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The Watercress Girl
Story Collection
Page Count
Michael Joseph
Bloomsbury Publishing Ltd
Publication Year
Document Types
available as ebook

London: Michael Joseph, 1959; Boston, Toronto: Little, Brown and Company (an Atlantic Monthly Press Book), 1960. Drawings by Hazel Pope.

Thirteen stories that explore the world, especially the inner world, of childhood, many easily matched to Bates's own boyhood. With the single exception of the novella-length "A Great Day for Bonzo," the tales are short evocations of mood and character which depend little on plot or action. Baldwin (1987, p. 199) cites a letter in which Bates names his three favorite tales in the collection: "The Cowslip Field," "Let's Play Soldiers," and "Love in a Wych Elm."

The New York Times comments that "Mr. Bates opens an effective and affecting route straight to the heart of childhood; its innocent joys, its uncorrupted vision and its inevitable capitulation to time." The Spectator calls it "the best thing Mr. Bates has done for a long time," and the Times Literary Supplement concurs that the book is "Mr. Bates at his best...The scherzo of the small trotting feet and the appassionato rumbles from the adult world are beautifully blended, and the vast timelessness of a young child's summer day has rarely been more deftly recaptured."


  • New Statesman (March 21, 1959, p. 420, Naomi Lewis, attached)
  • New York Times (January 10, 1960, p. BR5, Alice S. Morris, attached)
  • Spectator (February 13, 1959, p. 236, John Coleman, attached)
  • Times (February 5, 1959, p. 13, attached)
  • Times Literary Supplement (February 20, 1959, p. 93, David Williams, attached)
  • Punch (February 18, 1959, p. 266, attached)
  • Saturday Review of Literature (January 16, 1960, p. 65, Hope Hale, attached)
  • Daily Telegraph (February 13, 1959, p. 15, Frederick Laws, attached)

Contains: The Cowslip Field, The Watercress Girl, Let's Play Soldiers, The Far Distant Journey, The Pemberton Thrush, Death and the Cherry Tree, A Great Day for Bonzo, The Butterfly, Love in a Wych Elm, The House with the Grape Vine, Great Uncle Crow, Source of the World, The Poison Ladies.