Maurice Woods was one of the most distinguished journalists of his era. After serving his apprenticeship on local newspapers, he was recruited to the Manchester Guardian, only to be lured back to Norfolk to become London editor of the Eastern Daily Press. During his 15 years there he served as chairman of the Parliamentary Press Gallery, and of the British section of the European Association of European Journalists. He enjoyed a reputation that saw him awarded the European Prize for Journalism.
Yet throughout that time there was always a second string to his serious journalistic bow. Once a week Maurice Woods, a man on first-name terms with prime ministers, would set aside the politics of Westminster and Brussels, and return to his local roots. He became the voice of Harbert, rural correspondent for the Norwich Mercury Weekly, and file his report from Dumpton – a village somewhere in Norfolk.
“News from Dumpton by Harbert” was an eagerly-awaited column, written in vibrant dialect, rich in Norfolk humour, and constructed with as much care and skill as any Parliamentary report or EDP leader he ever wrote. It was truly a labour of love, which ran for the best part of 40 years. This book, a selection of 66 episodes from the hundreds he wrote over that time, celebrates the other talent of a gifted newspaperman.
Keith Skipper, local dialect champion, and founder of FOND – Friends Of Norfolk Dialect – provides a revealing introduction to the man, while Chris Fisher, a close colleague, pays a heart-warming tribute to the friend he followed as London editor of the Eastern Daily Press.