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ID
a23
Title
Flowers and Faces
Genre
Essay
Page Count
53
Word Count
17680
Publisher
Golden Cockerel Press
Publication Year
1935
Document Types
Autobiographical
Topics
Gardening

London: Golden Cockerel Press, 1935 (June). Engravings by John Nash. Dedication: "To my little flowers Ann and Judith." Commissioned by a small press, this long essay, in eight sections, expresses Bates's passion for flowers and gardening, his fond memories of early family and boyhood, and the saga of the acquisition of the Granary and the creation of its gardens (a reprint of the 1933 essay "My Cottage that was a Barn). Bates defines himself "as a man springing from a common and humble people" in contrast to the "young gentlemen of genteel education who I imagine hoe in silk lavender shirts and patent boots." He pays tribute to "my family, the obscure Midland shoemakers & fishermen & poachers and butterfly-hunters who thought more of flowers and freedom than they thought of respectable firesides and bread and butter." He praises the English working-man's "love of flowers, for the indomitable passion & desire for colour and blossom which asserts itself wherever they are." Two sections recall visits to the home and garden of his great-grandmother Mrs. Lawrence and make the point that love, more than horticultural knowledge, makes the garden; remembering himself "while I sat by the tock-tocking grandfather clock and ate a sugared mince-pie and gazed at the faces and flowers in the golden lamp-light" Bates feels the "half-sweet pain of lost but remembered joy." Moving on to his search in 1930, with his new wife, for a "small cottage...a modest, solid quiet place in which to live and work and grow flowers," Bates recounts their decision to buy a Kentish granary, convert it into a home, and tame the wild acreage into a splendid rock and flower garden. The book is Bates's first collection of essays about rural life and gardening.

The Spectator says that "Mr. Bates, as a writer about the countryside, has surely no equal among his contemporaries, and indeed few superiors among his predecessors."

Reviews: John O'London's Weekly (August 10, 1935, p. 656, Frank Kendon, attached) The Spectator (August 2, 1935, p. 202, attached). Times Literary Supplement (July 18, 1935, p. 463, Geoffrey West, attached)


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