As the old Romany Ryes and Scholars are now in our time highly respected ,I have no doubt that in future generations folk will
also look on our "today" authors with likewise regard.
I guess I have a soft spot for Dominic Reeve and Sven Berlin as wrote about Romanies they lived and travelled with in
Hampshire Dorset and Wiltshire which is the area where my research first started and that I can relate too as some of the families
are known to me and having done their family history it was nice to read of the family and the way they spoke and the life they led .
Also appealing to me personally was the way in which these two Authors wrote about the folk they travelled with by this I mean the
fact that they wrote as the words were pronouced and also in the local accent so if a Dorset or Hampshire Romany , then often a
good deal of local dialect was interspersed with the Romanes chib(talk).
They both have a wonderfull grasp of conveying what was being said or done as to make you the reader feel almost as if you
were there with them, sitting around the yog(fire) on a misty winters night or struggling with the Wagon when it got stuck in the mud
after heavy rain.
Sven Berlin who was also a Painter and painted many of the New Forest Gypsies and was a frequent visitor to Augustus John a
fellow painter and friend to the Gypsies who then lived in Fordingbridge on the verge of the Forest and he also stayed at the
Shave Green Compound mentioned previously on another page which was also near Fordingbridge as was another
site Millersford Bottom and Cystal Hollow.
Another book that recorded the Local Forest Romanies at the turn of this century was was Gypsies of the New Forest and other
Tales by H.E.J.Gibbons published in1909,concerning his works for the New Forest Good Samaritan Charity who tried to get the
poor people of the Forest into decent housing often with out much luck , and one notible character was Hannah Lakey who was pictured on a postcard by John Short (Photographer) with her swiggler (pipe) in her mouth and looking rather regal! this was a
famous holiday post card of the Forest and I believe is still on sale Hannah Lakey was regarded at the time as the ' Queen ' of the
New Forest Gypsies. Hannah was in fact the wife of Silas Lakey having married at St Mary's Parish Church Andover on 11th October1841, and they had five children that I know of. She died in 1903 her funeral was attended by a large number of Gypsies
at East Boldre Church where the register reads :- An old Gypsy woman, styled Queen of the Gypsies Hannah Lakey. Silas
Lakey died much earlier in 1871.
Frank Cuttriss was also among the New Forest Gypsies at the turn of this century and wrote "Romany Life, Experienced and
Observed During Many Years of Friendly Intercourse With the Gypsies" which has some wonderful pictures,as well
as describing their trades and culture and their style of clothing and even the womens hair styles!.The Wells family to name just
one, are mentioned as well as photos of Dosha Wells and other's. Juliette de Bairacli Levy the Famous Herbalist also lived at
Abbotswell in the N/Forest and befriended old Eiza or "black Lizzy" Cooper as she was known "black" being a compliment and referring to Lizzy's pure Gypsy blood line, she along with other Forest Romanies including the Sheen family, can be found in the excellent Wanderers in the New Forest. Juliet writes that she was very touched by the members of the Sheen family
who walked miles in the snow from their camp at Millersford Bottom to attend her wedding at the New Forest registrar's office at Ringwood,she also talks of old granny Sheen and her old Gypsy type photos of old wagons which she loved to show people while
sat round the fire.
Also at a much later date Irene Soper author of "The Romany Way" and "My New Forest Home" lived in the same cottage at Abbotswell that Juliette had, and was herself also visited by members of the Cooper family who wanted to see where their granny
Liza had spent so much time. The cottage is still there today and is a typical 'picture postcard' cottage, the type much sought after
by outsiders for a holiday retreat and alas out side the price of the local inhabitants of the Forest.
Books mentioned :-
Wanderers in the New Forest by Juliette de Bairacli Levy .1958
My New Forest Home : Irene Soper 1996
The Romany Way :Irene Soper 1994
Smoke In The Lanes By Dominic Reeve 1958./ With drawings by Beshlie.
No Place like Home By Dominic Reeve 1960 Forward by Augustas John .O.M.
Whichever Way we Turn : By Dominic Reeve First Published 1964
Dromengro Man of the Road .By Sven Berlin First Published 1971
Virgo In Exile By Sven Berlin First Published 1996
Romany Life By Frank Cuttriss: 1915
Beneath the Blue Sky
(Paperback) by Dominic Reeve
click the book to go to the site.
Publisher: Five Leaves Publications
ISBN: 1-905512-02-3 Pages: 236
Beneath the Blue Sky does not romanticise Romani life but reveals how people have lived, survived – and thrived – at a time of enormous pressure to integrate..
Dominic Reeve is the author of four books on Gypsy/Travelling life – this is his first new book in 40 years.
Now well past retirement age within the “settled community” he continues to work, selling goods from door to door.
Dominic Reeve’s Smoke in the Lanes was a classic book on traditional Gypsy life – this book covers the mechanised years of the