The Dark Lantern (1951) was the first of Henry Williamson's fifteen-volume A Chronicle of Ancient Sunlight spanning the years from the late Victorian period to the Second World War. In it we meet Richard Maddison, a countryman working in London as a City clerk, struggling to make do on a few shillings a week. He falls for Hetty Turner, youngest daughter of a prosperous merchant, but her father rates Richard an unsuitable suitor.
'There is magic in Henry Williamson's novel . . . which raises it right out of the family saga class. The magic is of the steam train age of South London which is so lovingly described.' John Betjeman, Daily Telegraph
'Williamson's style is romantic, though rarely sentimental, and his sensuous response to nature is fresh and surprising.' Anthony Burgess, Ninety-Nine Novels: The Best in English since 1939