Down the River by H. E. Bates

‘The river, memory and the impulse to write, the sounds and rhythms of words and water, these things merge time and time again across the centuries to become the poetry and prose of rivers.‘ Charles Rangeley-Wilson, from the introduction.

Rivers are great workings of nature, time and geology. They have long been at the very centre of human culture, sustaining us with water, food, power and stories. A river’s journey, from source to sea, is a metaphor for life.

H. E. Bates’ own journey began on the banks and in the waters of two contrasting Midland rivers – the river Nene’s jumbled course speaks of human industry, while the River Ouse is rich in wildlife and wild flowers. The two rivers and their people, no matter how different, filled Bates’ imagination with the wonderful stories and characters that make his writing so rich and enjoyable.

This nature classic has an introduction by Charles Rangeley-Wilson and has illustrations by Agnes Miller Parker.

Introduced by Charles Rangeley-Wilson

Wood engravings by Agnes Miller Parker



In stock


H. E. Bates (1905-1974) was born in Rushden, Northamptonshire, where he spent his childhood 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. During the second world war he joined the RAF and wrote 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. Further success followed posthumously with the adaptation for television of My Uncle Silas, Love for Lydia and The Darling Buds of May.




Additional information

Weight320 g


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