Seymour, John 1914-2004

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SEYMOUR, John 1914-2004

OBITUARY NOTICE— See index for CA sketch: Born June 12, 1914, in Hampstead, England; died September 14, 2004. Farmer, environmentalist, and author. Seymour gained prominence in the 1970s by writing books about being self-sufficient and living off the land rather than relying on industrialized society. Spending much of his childhood in the Essex countryside, he grew to love rural life and studied agriculture at Wye College. He then moved to South Africa, where he worked variously in a copper mine, as a sheep farmer, and in the government's veterinarian service. During World War II, Seymour served in the King's African Rifles in Burma and Ethiopia, returning to his native England after the war. Soon, however, he was traveling again, voyaging to India, where he learned about peasant farming, and then he worked on barges sailing out of England. He wrote about his Indian experience in The Hard Way to India (1951) and Round about India (1953), the latter being published in North America as Around India (1954), and he wrote about sailing in Sailing through England (1956). After marrying in 1954, Seymour settled down in the English countryside to raise a family and to farm. Beginning in the 1960s, he began publishing books about how to live independently, following traditional ways of life that did not rely on modern civilization. It was his fervent belief that our modern, industrialized lifestyle was not only ruining the planet but also humanity's spirit. Among his first books on the subject were The Fat of the Land (1961), On My Own Terms (1963), and Farming forSelf-Suffıciency: Independence on a Five-Acre Farm (1973), which he cowrote with his wife, Sally. His best-known work on the subject is The Guide to Self-Suffıciency (1976). Published during the oil crisis of the 1970s, the book became a hit, and Seymour became a guru of the self-sufficient life. Fans began visiting his farm, and the author began teaching classes on subjects such as milking and ham curing. In the 1980s, he also produced a British Broadcasting Corporation television series with Herbert Girardet titled Far from Paradise, which explores the world's problems concerning industrialization, environmental destruction, and the last remaining vestiges of rural life. Seymour published many more books about green living and simplifying one's lifestyle over the years, including Gardener's Delight (1979), The Lore of the Land (1983), Forgotten Household Crafts (1984; revised as Our Forgotten Arts and Crafts: Skills from Bygone Days, 2001), and Blueprint for a Green Planet: Your Practical Guide to Restoring the World's Environment (1987), the last written with Girardet.


OBITUARIES AND OTHER SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Guardian (London, England), September 21, 2004, p. 27.

Times (London, England), October 14, 2004, p. 68.