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The Black Boxer Tales
Story Collection
Page Count
Pharos Editions
R.O. Ballou
Bloomsbury Publishing Ltd
Publication Year
Document Types
available as ebook

London: Pharos Editions, 1932 (February 15). 272 pp. New York: R. O. Ballou, 1932.
Dedication: "To my wife."

Bates's third collection displays a growing emphasis on plot and characterization, while amply displaying his previous skill at creating plotless atmospheric pieces. Several stories explore new ground (the carnival world, economic challenges, traveling performers) while most portray the landscape and people familiar from his previous Midlands tales (children and youth, and farm or woodland settings). In 1949, five years after Bates's transfer of allegiance to publisher Michael Joseph in 1944, Cape would reissue these eleven stories with a new title story as The Bride Comes to Evensford and Other Tales.

The New York Times commented that Bates's work "may be too quiet-toned, too simple, too austere, for our brisk, full-blooded taste. If so, it is America's loss. He is a very genuine artist, even if a minor one, and his stories are as good as any that are being written in England today." The New Statesman and Nation commented that "he still has a certain intellectual frailty; he is so sensitive that at times he will not venture beyond an insinuation, when statement would be more appropriate." The Spectator calls him"a sensitive observer, with a quick eye for significant gesture, a tender imagination, and a sure way with words," while the Times Literary Supplement comments on his "mastery of both matter and manner." According to Eads (1990, p. 19), Compton Mackenzie commented that "his stories challenge comparison with the best of D.H. Lawrence's longer short stories, and to my taste they are more true and more beautiful than most of his short stories."


  • The Nation (September 20, 1933, p. 329, Angel Flores, attached)
  • New Statesman and Nation, March 12, 1932 (attached)
  • New York Times, September 17, 1933 (attached)
  • The Spectator, February 20, 1932 (attached)
  • Times Literary Supplement (February 18, 1932; p. 110, by Geoffrey West [Wells], attached)
  • By Compton McKenzie (source as yet unknown, quoted above)
  • Sunday Times (March 27, 1932, p. 6, Ralph Straus, attached)

Contains: The Black Boxer, On the Road, A Love Story, Charlotte Esmond, A Flower Piece, The Mower, The Hessian Prisoner, Death in Spring, Sheep, The Russian Dancer, A Threshing Day for Esther. ebook edition (Bloomsbury, 2016) also contains The Laugh.


The below reviews and articles are available in PDF format.