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Book editions and TV
The first ever edition of the book version of Anne Hughes was published by Countrywise Books in 1964. 'The Diary of a Farmer's Wife 1796-1797' was edited by Suzanne Beedell under the aegis of Barbara Hargreaves at the FW. It used the original spelling and included parts previously omitted by Mary Day who had also adjusted the spelling to make it less tedious to a modern reader. The text for this book is as close as we can get to what Jeannne Preston actually sent in, although we believe that was handwritten and her transcript was then typed up at the FW office. But how accurate is it?
First, there is the difficulty of transcribing spidery, probably faded, 18thC writing with no electric light. Next, we must add the difficulty the typist undoubtedly had in reading Jeanne's own handwriting. There is also scope for additional typing errors at this stage and finally typesetting errors for the print run. So from the diary manuscript to the finished book, there are repeated opportunities for errors to creep in. Even with our standardised English spelling, proofreading is sufficiently difficult to be a professional occupation. Proofreading Anne Hughes' spelling must have been a nightmare. As we have seen, accuracy in the process is important in determining the spelling and pronunciation of unusual dialect words and, unfortunately, we simply can't rely on it. To compound the problem, it is not possible to refer back to the original typescript as it was lost along with many other documents in a fire at the FW offices. Jeanne's handwritten transcripts probably disappeared at the same time.
Because Jeanne had moved to Sussex before she died, the Farmer's Weekly had lost touch with her and were unable to contact her about publication. Also, with the interruption to continuity at the FW with the death of Mary Day, it was assumed that the serialisation was a straight transcription of an eighteenth-century document and thus out of copyright. When Jeanne's daughter, Molly, discovered the book had now been published, she successfully claimed the copyright on behalf of her mother's estate on the grounds that it was not simply a copy, but that her mother had added to it.
The next edition, Suzanne Beedell's version again, was distributed by Temple Press for Countrywise Books in 1965.
On Christmas Day, 1978, a drama based on Anne Hughes' Diary was transmitted by BBC television. It was written and directed by Michael Croucher who, when he was introduced to the book by a colleague, thought it would make marvellous television. The role of Anne was played by Elin Jenkins and that of John, by James Duggan.
Following the previous editions of the book came the Allen Lane hardback edition of 1980 with an introduction by Michael Croucher dated 1979.
A subsequent edition by Penguin had a rewritten introduction, again by Michael Croucher, and this introduction was also used in the Folio Society edition of 1981. This edition was titled 'Anne Hughes, Her Boke'.
In 1992, Penguin issued the book again, this time with 'A New Introduction' by Adele Roberts and Frances Houghton based on their extensive research. Having begun researching independently, they had teamed up after being introduced to each other by Michael Croucher.
An audio book on cassette tape was also produced in 1992. It was titled 'The Diary of a Farmer's Wife, 1796 - 1797'
and was read by Elizabeth Proud.
In collaboration with Colin Preston, Jeanne Preston's grandson, the current edition of Anne Hughes' Diary was published in the UK in September, 2009 and in the USA in December, 2009, by The Good Life Press. It has new illustrations by Emma Brown and a new introduction written by the Anne Hughes Research Team. Purchase details are on our Links page.
News of any subsequent editions will be detailed in the Latest News section of this website.