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Down the River
Essay Collection
Page Count
Word Count
Henry Holt
Victor Gollancz
Publication Year
Document Types
Nature Writing

London: Victor Gollancz, 1937 (December); New York: Henry Holt, 1937.
"With 83 Engravings on Wood by Agnes Miller Parker."

In this sequel to Through the Woods, Bates writes of the rivers of his childhood, the Ouse and the Nene, and of the many aspects of river life, both natural and human, that he appreciates: flowers, birds, otters, mills, boats, fish and fishing, ice-skating, and seasonal changes. While writing as if following a river from Northamptonshire to the sea, Bates takes time for memories of his grandfather and other relatives, observations on village life, his opposition to hunting (in general, and specifically of otters and foxes), and a history of English lace-making.

Richard Church, while finding Bates often "peevish, shrew-tempered, and inclined to scold when contradicted," nevertheless calls him "one of the most sensitive, direct, and subtle prose-writers amongst English naturalists." Sir John Squire in The Daily Telegraph said that 'Mr. Bates writes of riparian scenes with the passion of a country-lover who is also a born essayist, who commands a vivid and vigorous prose-style.'

A reprinting in 2014 by Little Toller features an introduction by Charles Rangely-Wilson.


  • The Daily Express (October 14, 1937, p. 8, James Agate, attached)
  • The New Statesman and Nation (November 6, 1937, p. 752, Richard Church, attached)
  • New York Times (December 12, 1937, p. 5, attached)
  • The Spectator (November 19, 1937, p. 26, Edmund Blunden, attached)
  • Times Literary Supplement (November 6, 1937, p. 831, Brenda Colvin, attached)
  • Daily Telegraph (October 12, 1937, p. 8, Sir John Squire, attached)
  • Sunday Times (October 17, 1937, p. 10, attached)

Contains: The Twin Rivers, A Boy's Brook, The First River, Fish and Fishermen, The Flood, The Frost, The Second River, Water Flowers and Water Creatures, Flowers of Childhood, The Water-Mill, The Lace-Makers, Otters and Men, The Rivers of England, Down to the Sea. With the following exceptions, the essays appeared only in this collection: