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The Face of England
Page Count
Word Count
B.T. Batsford
Christian Science Monitor
Publication Year
Document Types
Nature Writing
Social Commentary
Original Manuscript (mss)
Rural Living

London: B.T. Batsford Ltd, 1952. "With 40 photographs in colour by A.F. Kersting."

Bates revisits many themes of his previous volumes of nature writing, such as the influence of the railroad and the internal combustion engine (both in autos and in farm machinery) on country life, social changes in the countryside since the two wars, the temperament of the English farm laborer, the sprawl of country housing both inland and on the coasts, the spirit of different villages and cities, English gardening both modest and grand, and the way in which "a land reflects its people...but it is perhaps even truer that a people reflects its land."

Bates remains optimistic throughout, finding most of the changes brought about by technological and economic development to be to the benefit of country life. He finds the continuous process of change to be "a preservative. Through the incessant impact of change our land cannot decay. It is possible that we lose a vista here, a haven there, a piece of the picturesque, a morsel of pastoral somewhere else; but the measure of loss is itself minute against the virility of the life we gain."

Eiluned Lewis, in The Times Literary Supplement, praises Bates's 'brave words when most commentaries on present-day rural England tend to become jeremiads, if not wholehearted books of lamentation' and concludes that 'concerning the endlessly varied beauties of this land, Mr. Bates writes in the noble tradition of English country lovers.'

An excerpt from the book was published in The Christian Science Monitor with the title "The North Downs in July" (July 9, 1954, p. 8).

A manuscript is held at the King's School, Canterbury.


  • Times Literary Supplement (December 19, 1952, p. 839, Eiluned Lewis, attached)
  • British Book News (January, 1953, p. 50, attached)
  • Illustrated London News (November 15, 1952, p. 824, Edward O'Brien, attached)


The below reviews and articles are available in PDF format.