Books by Dorothy Calcutt


The Wychwood Press has published several books by Dorothy Calcutt, a retired schoolteacher who taught in Woodstock and now lives in retirement in Combe. Dorothy is pictured here in an enormous chair made in 1891 for 'Uncle John' by Charles Mansell of Long Hanborough. John had a mysterious benefactor and remained a lifelong bachelor, but the story of his benefactor and the circumstances of his birth are told in Born in a Stable (see below).

Her first book is

The Salt of the Earth

in which Dorothy vividly recreates the year 1900 in the home of her mother's family in Woodstock.

Dorothy Calcutt's mother, Dora, told her many tales of her childhood at the turn of the century, and this book is based on Dora's stories. It is an accurate reconstruction of the daily life of a poor family of the time.

Dora's father, George, starts the year as a farm labourer, too fond of his whisky, but proves himself an effective midwife when the farm cow gives birth to two heifer calves. Later he answres an emergency call to Blenheim Palace when one of the Duchess's precious spaniels is whelping. As the year passes George spends more time at the palace, and he is secretly given a guinea each time a bitch whelps successfully. The pups are sold at six weeks and George is employed to deliver them to their new owners. By the end of October he has 25 guineas buried in a cocoa tin buried in the garden.

But good fortune is tempered with bad. There are to be four deaths in the family in this year alone, and George has to practise his midwifery skills again – and unexpectedly – on new year's eve…

The chapter 'Home Rule from Ma' is available below as a free download.

£8 paperback  109 pages  Many black and white illustrations

Also by Dorothy Calcutt

Born in a Stable

Dorothy's Uncle John (her mother's brother, photographed right) was born in mysterious circumstances in a tiny cottage, now a stable, that still stands in a farm on the edge of Freeland and received an income from a secret benefactor throughout his life. Dorothy researched his life history and reveals an aristocratic connection, going right back into the mid-nineteenth century amid circumstances of extreme rural poverty.

My Three Hats: The Autobiography of a Schoolgirl at Milham Ford, a Member of Stonesfield Silver Band and a Keen Oxford United Supporter  £8

Tracing her life through three crucially important influences, each of which involved the wearing of a hat.

I Love Life: The NHS is Ours, So Let's Take Care of It  £6.99

An alarming story of Dorothy's experience at the hands of the NHS, and a testimony to the wonderful care she received at Witney Community Hospital

A Cocktail of Village Life: A Century of Change In and Around Combe  £9.99

Illustrated with many historic photographs, this book recounts the changes that overtook village life in rural Oxfordshire during the twentieth century, drawing on her own memories (she was born in 1920) and the recollections of family members. Topics covered include the importance of the coffee tavern in the fight against alcohol abuse, and the changes brought about by the introduction of village buses and private cars. As in her other books, Dorothy Calcutt combines careful social observation with the experiences and emotions of her family and friends.

Jon Carpenter,
8 Dec 2009, 11:56