Shop H.E. Bates Online
In the Heart of the Country
Essay Collection
Page Count
Word Count
Country Life Ltd.
Publication Year
Document Types
Nature Writing
Social Commentary
Rural Living

London: Country Life Limited, 1942. Illustrated by C.F. Tunnicliffe.
Reprinted by the Unicorn Press (London, 2014).

Bates's fifth book of non-fiction nature-writing and his second set of essays illustrated by Tunnicliffe (the first being The Seasons & The Gardener, and a subsequent one being O More than Happy Countryman) visits familiar topics, but all touched by the presence of soldiers, planes, urban evacuees and by reflections on how the war will affect the English countryside. As in previous books, Bates writes of the seasons, birds, fish, and especially flowers of his Kentish home. He ponders both the timelessness of the countryside and the inevitable changes brought by technological changes and world events. In his discussions of the effect of war raids on birds and the weights of birds, he repeats topics covered in his Country Life newspaper columns (gathered in the book Country Life); he also makes occasional allusions to his childhood, his uncle Rook, family outings (and the family name), a visiting brother-in-law, and in the essay "Victorian Garden" a reminiscence of the scene captured in his highly successful story "Alexander."

The essays were included, in revised form, as part one of The Country Heart (1949).

A letter by Bates in response to the review in The Field indicates that the intended title of the book was simply 'The Heart of the Country', and that subsequent printings would remove the initial 'In'. No evidence is found of a later printing with the shorter title, although when reprinted in Bates's 1949 book The Country Heart, a publisher's statement mistakenly refers to the book without the initial 'In'.

The Sunday Times review states that 'this is a volume that will tell the future historian more about the temper of Britain at her crisis of fate than a wilderness of sensational yarns, even though they explode a bomb at the end of every sentence. It is full of a quiet loveliness.'


  • The Spectator (May 29, 1942, p. 516, C. Henry Warren, attached)
  • Times Literary Supplement (April 4, 1942, p. 176, Marjorie Hessell Tiltman, attached)
  • Sunday Times (April 26, 1942, p. 3, attached)
  • The Field (April 11, 1942, p. 396, attached)


  • Sudden Spring (comprised in part from 'Spring Has No Date')
  • Fisherman's Luck
  • Overture to Summer
  • Fruit Blossom Time (comprised in part from 'Festival of the Orchards')
  • "Clouded August Thorn"
  • Strange Battlefields
  • The Great Snow
  • A Summer Spring
  • "...Bring Forth May Flowers" (comprised in part from 'Bluebell Time in the Woods')
  • Victorian Garden (reprinted in Mother's Bedside Book, 1961)
  • Wealden Beauty (comprised in part from 'My Bit of Britain')
  • The Strangeness of Fish
  • The Parish Pump
  • Flowers and Downland


The below reviews and articles are available in PDF format.