H. E. Bates (H H. E. Bates)

H. E. Bates

Author. A prolific writer of novels, short stories, non-fiction, and children’s books, he is probably best remembered for his novels “Love for Lydia” (1952), “The Darling Buds of May” (1958, the first of the five ‘Pop Larkin’ series of novels), and his short-story series “My Uncle Silas” (1939). Many of his stories depict life in the rural Midlands of England, particularly his native Northamptonshire, England. Born Herbert Ernest Bates, after completing his education at Kettering Grammar School in Kettering, Northamptonshire, he worked as a reporter and a warehouse clerk. At age 20, his novel, “The Two Sisters” (1926) was published, which he wrote while working at a local shoe manufacturing warehouse. Additional novels, collections of short stories, essays, and articles followed, but did not pay well. During World War II, he was commissioned into the British Royal Air Force solely to write short stories. The British Air Ministry recognized that the populace was less concerned with facts and figures about the war than it was with reading about those who were fighting it. The stories were originally published in the daily newspaper News Chronicle under the pseudonym of “Flying Officer X” and later they were published in book form as “The Greatest People in the World and Other Stories” (1942) and “How Sleep the Brave and Other Stories” (1943). His first financial success was the novel “Fair Stood the Wind for France” (1944) which was followed by “The Cruise of the Breadwinner” (1946), and after being posted to the Far East, it was followed by two novels about Burma, “The Purple Plain” (1947) and “The Jacaranda Tree” (1949), and one set in India, “The Scarlet Sword” (1950). He was also commissioned by the British Air Ministry to write “Flying Bombs over England”, but because of various disagreements within the British Government, it was shelved and publication was banned for 30 years. It was eventually discovered by Bob Ogley and published in 1994 as “The Battle of the Flying Bomb.” “The Darling Buds of May” became the source of the Film “The Mating Game” (1959) that starred Tony Randall and Debbie Reynolds, and the series was later adapted to British television. The “My Uncle Silas” stories were also made into a British television series from 2000 to 2003. Other of his stories were adapted to television and to films, the most renowned being “The Purple Plain” (1954) which starred Gregory Peck, and “The Triple Echo” (1972), with Glenda Jackson and Oliver Reed. He was also a keen and knowledgeable gardener and wrote many books on flowers. He died at the age of 68. (bio by: William Bjornstad)  Family links:  Spouse:  Margerie Helen Cox Bates (1909 – 2004)* *Calculated relationship


  • May, 16, 1905
  • England


  • January, 01, 1974
  • England


  • Kent County Crematorium
  • Kent
  • England

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