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Clare was allowed to take walks in the local countryside and it was whilst doing so that he decided to escape and to try to make his way on foot back to his beloved home village of Helpston, a distance of some ninety miles. Whilst undertaking this exhausting journey, Clare's sense of inner isolation became even greater, through his encounters with various characters, all of whom in their different ways treated him unkindly. First he met up with a band of gypsies who feigned friendship, hoping to get money from him, but who disappeared once they realised he has no coins. Then he came across some cattle drovers who, instead of attempting to help him, took the opportunity to mock him. Later he met up with a jovial character who is himself a traveller, but having offered hospitality to Clare, realized he was about to miss his coach and instead rushed away. During the evening Clare came to an inn, but since he had no money, couldn't afford to enter it and so could only watch from outside the warmth and companionship within, 'The Windowpanes Glow'.

At last, John was sighted by a villager as he approached Helpston and was collected by Patty his wife. However, due to his very confused state of mind he did not recognise her, but believed he was married instead to Mary, a childhood sweetheart who had since died in a fire. Clare idealised
his relationship with Mary, even though there was no possibility of their marrying as Mary was from a higher class. Sadly things went badly when he was together with Patty and Clare eventually began to become violent towards her. Finally Clare was admitted to the lunatic asylum at Northampton where he was to remain for twenty three years until his death from a heart attack at the age of 71 in 1864.

'Clare's Journey' is based on Clare's own detailed account of his journey, given in his journal.

'Clare's Journey' is dedicated to Peter Moyse, Hon. Vice President of The John Clare Society, in appreciation of his encouragement over many years and his suggestion that planted the seed from which 'Clare's Journey' has grown.
My sincere thanks to Carry Akroyd for painting 'Woodland Jay' for the Clare's Journey cover picture.
Thanks are due to Preston House for the authentic 'bell's, Church Farm & Stud, Ripe for the horse & Steve Hook at Hook and Sons dairy farm for the 'sound' of his cows...

© Terence Deadman



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