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H.E. BATES (1905 – 1974) was born in Rushden, Northamptonshire, where he spent much of his youth wandering the footpaths of the surrounding countryside, often at night. After leaving school he worked as a reporter and a clerk in a shoe factory, where he wrote his first two novels between shifts. In 1931 he married Marjorie (Madge) Cox and they made their home in an old granary in Little Chart, Kent. Commissioned into the RAF to write short stories during the Second World War, he published under the pseudonym ‘Flying Officer X’. Described by Graham Greene as Britain’s successor to Chekhov, he wrote over a hundred novels and collections of short stories and was appointed CBE in 1973. Further success came posthumously with the adaptation for television of My Uncle Silas (1939), Love for Lydia (1952), and The Darling Buds of May (1958).

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