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Oh! To Be In England
Page Count
Word Count
Farrar, Straus & Company
Michael Joseph
Publication Year
Document Types
Comic Fiction
Larkin Family Novels
available as ebook

London: Michael Joseph, 1963;
New York: Farrar, Straus & Company, 1964.
Dedication: "This book is dedicated to Stephen, Jeremy, Andrew, Beverley and Emma" (Bates's grandchildren).
Serialized in Woman's Own (mid-May to mid-June 1963).

The title is taken from Robert Browning's "Home Thoughts from Abroad." This fourth novel in the Larkin family sequence features a variety of characters and incidents, including a stuffy Captain who is put in his place by the lovely Angela Snow and Jasmine Brown, an owner of a country fair who encounters young hoodlums, and a young minister pursued by the fourteen-year-old Primrose Larkin. Madame Dupont, owner of the hotel of the second novel, crosses the ocean only to discover that "Milord" Larkin is only a dealer in junk. As in the previous novels in the sequence, this ends in a major event (the christening of no fewer than eight Larkins) and celebration, at which the Reverend Candy surprises all by dispatching the hoodlums with techniques learned as a minister in the East End of London.

Michael Ratcliffe, in The Sunday Times, calls the book 'heartless, flat and unfunny,' but The Times praises Bates for his creation of a 'living, breathing quotable character, cast large in the heroic mould' while also describing this instalment as 'really little more than an improvised vehicle from which Pop Larkin can steal another quick bow.'


  • New Statesman (July 19, 1963, p. 85, Christopher Ricks, attached)
  • Times (July 18, 1963, p. 13, attached)
  • Times Literary Supplement (August 16, 1963, p. 627, attached)
  • The Critic (April-May, 1964, p. 70, attached)
  • Daily Telegraph (July 19, 1963, p. 19, David Holloway, attached)
  • Sunday Telegraph (July 14, 1963, p. 16, Isabel Quigly, attached)
  • Sunday Times (July 14, 1963, p. 26, Michael Ratcliffe, attached)


The below reviews and articles are available in PDF format.