A gripping Gothic tale of possession, madness and murder, Hilda Vaughan’s Harvest Home, first published in 1936, is set in ‘Abercoran’ on the south-west coast of Wales during the reign of George III. One fine morning Daniel Hafod rides home from England to become Master of ‘Great House’ after the death of his uncle. But his obsessive pride and his dark desire for the pretty dairy-maid Eiluned lead to his downfall, as he and his sailor cousin, Dan, compete for her love. One of Vaughan’s most appealing heroines, Eiluned herself strives to remain steadfast under pressure.
Outstanding in its lyrical evocation of a bygone Welsh rural life, Harvest Home is also a tautly-written psychological study of a man driven mad by desire. It draws on tales of the wreckers then active on the Welsh sea-coast, the legend of Blodeuwedd from the Mabinogi, and superstitions associated with ‘Nos Galan Gaeaf’ (All Hallows Eve) when spirit voices call out the names of those soon to die. Hilda Vaughan’s portrayal of ‘Abercoran’ (an ancient name for Laugharne where she often stayed) vividly depicts its haunting estuarine landscape as well as weaving in some of the folklore and folk-customs associated with the area.
Hilda Vaughan (1892-1985) was born and raised in Builth Wells. During the First World War, she worked in a Red Cross hospital and as organising secretary of the Woman’s Land Army in Breconshire and Radnorshire. She married the novelist Charles Morgan in 1923 and they had a daughter and a son. Vaughan published ten novels, two plays and a number of short stories. Her work is distinguished by its lyrical yet realistic evocation of Welsh rural landscapes and customs, and by her incisive analysis of the politics of class, gender and nationality. This new edition of Harvest Home has an introduction by Diana Wallace, Professor of English Literature at the University of South Wales.