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Dear Life
Page Count
Word Count
Michael Joseph
Publication Year
Document Types
Original Manuscript (mss)
Music, Youth, Violence, Crime, Family Relations

Boston: Little, Brown and Company (An Atlantic Monthly Press Book), 1949 (November); London: Michael Joseph, 1950 (February). Later published in The Cruise of the Breadwinner & Dear Life (1951).

Written in the midst of Bates's immensely popular war novels (The Jacaranda Tree, The Scarlet Sword) is this short novel that represents one of the few experimental efforts that Bates made in his long career. It is a graphic story of a teenager whose life devolves from an abusive and miserable home situation to a series of senseless robberies and killings with an ex-soldier. The novel also features an array of unattractive characters: an unfeeling mother and abusive stepfather, a crazy uncle, and a self-absorbed employer and choir director.

Antonia White in the New Statesman and Nation found the book "artificial...he endows the girl with an exquisite, strained sensibility that registers every nuance of sound and colour and obviously belongs to the author rather than to the character." The reviewer in the Times Literary Supplement says that Bates "seems to be writing out of character, from a kind of compulsion to project the squalid life of adolescent delinquency and ruthless violence that has become a familiar part of the contemporary scene."

A manuscript is held at the King's School, Canterbury.


  • New Statesman and Nation (March 11, 1950, p. 277, Antonia White, attached)
  • New York Times (November 12, 1949, p. 13, Charles Poore, attached)
  • New York Times (November 6, 1949, p. BR4, James Stern, attached)
  • Saturday Review of Literature (November 19, 1949, p. 19, Siegfried Mandel, attached)
  • The Spectator (March 3, 1950, p. 288, Marghanita Laski, attached)
  • Times Literary Supplement (March 3, 1950, p. 133, Julian Maclaren-Ross, attached)
  • Daily Telegraph (March 3, 1950, p. 6, Pamela Hansford Johnson, attached)