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The Day of the Tortoise
Page Count
Word Count
Argosy (UK)
Michael Joseph
Bloomsbury Publishing Ltd
Publication Year
Document Types
Film & Television
Radio Dramatizations
available as ebook
Original Typescript (tss)
Music, Pets

London: Michael Joseph, 1961 (November). Illustrated by Peter Farmer.

A tale of a brief interlude of pleasure in the drab existence of a man nearing his sixties. The title refers to one of the man's pets, a tortoise who is led by a leash on walks in the garden. Baldwin (1987, p. 202) cites correspondence dating the writing of the work as January 1960.

First published in Argosy (September 1960, with illustrations by Mary Dinsdale). The story was adapted for television by Julian Bond and aired in 1967 in the series "ITV Playhouse." The story was dramatized for BBC Radio by Margaret McKenna in 1973 in a production starring George Woolley and Charlotte Howard.

The Times Literary Supplement was more enthusiastic than most reviewers: "Like all Mr. Bates's work, this story is acutely and aromatically realized. It buzzes and sweats with summer. Sometimes, again typically, floods of descriptive detail drown what are essentially simple images. But, gentle and sensuous, compassionate without ever heeling over into sentimentality, The Day of the Tortoise remains joyously readable."

A typescript (pp. 71) is held at the Museum of the English Rural Life at the University of Reading (


  • New Statesman (December 8, 1961, p. 894, William Walsh, attached)
  • Spectator (November 24, 1961, p. 790, Francis Hope, attached)
  • Times (November 30, 1961, p. 16, attached)
  • Times Literary Supplement (December 8, 1961, p. 877, Anthony Burgess, attached)
  • Daily Mail (November 24, 1961, p. 8, attached)
  • Sunday Telegraph (November 26, 1961, p. 7, Fred Urquhart, attached)
  • Sunday Times (November 26, 1961, p. 32, Jeremy Brooks, attached)


The below reviews and articles are available in PDF format.