Posted by: Lisa Hill | September 26, 2019

Vale Peter Devenish (HV Morton Society)

It is with sadness that I share the news that Perth-based Peter Devenish has passed away, aged 79.  Peter was the founder, (with Kenneth Fields in Lancashire) of the H V Morton Society, of which I have been a member for many years now.

The society is based in England but it has a worldwide membership of readers who admire (and sometimes collect) the pioneering travel writings of H. V. (Henry Vollam) Morton, author of numerous books about Britain, London, the Holy Land and Europe, including In Search of London, In Search of Scotland, In Search of Wales, A Traveller in Italy, A Stranger in Spain, and the heart-breaking I Saw Two Englands, written during WW2 when the England he knew and loved was under siege from the Blitz.

As Niall Taylor, the current coordinator says in the membership notice announcing the news:

HVM’s Blue Plaque in Henry Square, Ashton under Lyne

Peter was the face and voice of the society for most of its existence and what he didn’t know about HVM wasn’t worth knowing.

The HV Morton Society was founded on the 15th December 2003 to celebrate Morton’s life and works and to push for a commemorative blue plaque to be erected in Morton’s home town of Ashton-under-Lyne, England. It was largely through Peter’s dogged determination that the campaign succeeded, despite a degree of opposition, and the HVM Society grew from that moment. He was a man who could get things done.

I first came to know Peter when I joined the society in 2005 and was immediately struck by his courteous and gentlemanly manner which expressed itself in his plentiful society bulletins and every email he sent. Peter D was a gentleman in the true sense of the word and was a mentor and friend to me, my life has been the richer for knowing him. I am saddened, more than I can say, by the news of his passing.

As well as his extended family, who he was always proud to share photographs of, Peter loved books and language and (of course) HV Morton in particular. I felt this quote from Morton, resurrecting an old adjective which could just as easily refer to Peter himself as to HVM and which Peter included in the society’s very first post in 2003, was particularly apt in the circumstances:

“I am a librarious person. And I like the word. It suggests someone curled up in an easy chair surrounded by books. It suggests someone rising librariously from his chair to cast a librarious eye over the shelves before returning librariously to his chair to remain out of circulation for the rest of the day.”

This is how I will always remember Peter, a librarious gentleman, surrounded by books. I don’t think he would have been unhappy with that.

Niall Taylor, Glastonbury, Somerset, England

It’s impossible to put a value on the work of volunteers like Peter and his successor Niall. Reading is so often a solitary pursuit, and more often than not there is no one in our lives who shares that enthusiasm. The HVM Society brings together a community of readers from around the world, bonded by a shared love of an author with a unique talent, and we owe that sense of shared community to Peter Devenish.

On behalf of the Melbourne members of the society who met for lunch some years ago, I wish to pass on condolences to his family and friends.

For those in the Perth area, Peter’s funeral service will be held on 2.30pm, Wednesday 2 October, at the Norfolk Chapel, Karrakatta.


  1. Sad news for his family and friends , and the wider world of HVM aficionados. May he Rest In Peace


    • Yes, it’s a loss for a worldwide community.


  2. I met Peter through the Morton Society, and although my interest in the latter waned it did not for the former. I loved corresponding with Peter, my Aussie mate, and getting his views about many issues. He was always enthusiastic and supportive of my writing projects. Farewell, mate!


    • Thanks for sharing this, Richard, I think he will be missed by many far and wide…


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