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Harmondsworth Middlesex England; New York: Penguin Books, 1943.

A selection from Bates's brief "Country Life" columns in The Spectator. In The Blossoming World (p. 81), Bates credits Jonathan Cape's editorial assistant Rupert Hart-Davis for the assignment with the Spectator, the column giving "me the very first regular income, a magnificent 6 guineas a week, that I had had since first beginning to write." From 1935 to November 1940, Bates wrote the column in place of its chief writer, William Beach Thomas, but was thereafter responsible for the column.

In his foreword (attached), Bates maintains that science has brought about a "revolution" in interest in country life: improved communication, transportation, public health, domestic comforts (such as electric light and improved heating systems), and research about birds, flowers, and animals have "made possible for us, of the twentieth century, the easiest, safest, most comfortable, most accessible, most equitable and most varied kind of country life that has ever been known in England." He goes on to say that because "I believe that a happy country life is based as much on decent wages, decent sanitation and decent education as on the charm of Springtime and the call of the blackbird," the essays treat such issues a much as they do natural phenomena. Indeed, Bates states that "the countryside of England is, perhaps more than any other countryside in the world, man-made...To believe that the countryside will grow and blossom and remain beautiful without the intelligent and active interest of men and women is therefore a great mistake. It is to the opposite of such a belief, and to the kind of countryside and country life that have grown and will grow out of it, that this book is dedicated."

The columns are derived from the following weekly Spectator issues:

  • 26 April - 10 May 1935,
  • 20 December 1935 - 14 February 1936,
  • 22 January - 29 January 1937,
  • 12 February - 26 March 1937,
  • 18 February - 1 April 1938,
  • 17 February - 24 March 1939,
  • 31 May - 26 July 1940,
  • 8 November 1940 - 24 October 1941.

An extract from one column was published with the title "A Blackbird Triangle." Extracts from the columns of January 22, 1937 and February 18, 1938 were reprinted in Wings of Light, an Anthology for Bird-Lovers (compiled by Garth Christian, 1965).

Full-text of the individual Spectator columns are available within separate Library entries grouped by year. (1935, 1936, 1937, 1938, 1939, 1940, 1941.)


  • The Tribune (November 19, 1943, p. 17, Margaret Willy, attached).


The below reviews and articles are available in PDF format.