A new book celebrating the work of photographer James Ravilious has opened a window into a rural North Devon that is all but vanished forever. During his lifetime James (1939-99) took almost 80,000 pictures for the Beaford Centre chronicling daily life in the 1970s and 80s that clung to the rural tradition far longer than other parts of Britain. The Recent Past is now on sale and offers a glimpse into those not-so-distant days and the wonderful characters and snapshots of life that fell before his lens. Released at the same time is James Ravilious: A Memoir by his wife Robin Ravilious. Robin was closely involved in James work from the start, often travelling with him, and working on his books and exhibitions. She shared his love of country life and understood what inspired him. She has drawn a picture of an engaging, eccentric and gifted man whose warmth and enthusiasm made him friends wherever he went. The Gazette caught up with Robin, 73, at the Chulmleigh she shared with James to find out more about the books and the man behind them. She said: The books are primarily a tribute to him but also a tribute to North Devon and a record of a way of life at a particular time. If people see the picture book they want to know more about James and hopefully if they see the biography they want to know more about his work, so they go together. James trained as an artist but found it difficult in the shadow of his famous father Eric Ravilious and photography became his passion. Robin said when he began he started out small after being invited to take a few photos but the work snowballed into what is now the Beaford Archive with thousands of pictures. His artistic training gave him an eye for a picture and composition, but he had no formal training and trained on the job. Robin was born and bred in Devon, but moved back to the area with James in 1972 and they had two children, Ben and Ella. Remembering James, she said: He was quite eccentric and he had a zany sense of humour he was very warm and friendly and he got on with strangers at once. Both books are now available on Amazon and at all good bookshops.