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The Woman Who Had Imagination
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Marriage, Music, Youth

A village choir travels to a country estate for a music festival, where the young son of the choir director is drawn to a resident of the estate, a mesmerizing and mysterious young woman.

Only on the return trip does he learn that she is married to the aged don of the house; as one choir member exclaims, 'it needed a bit of imagination to marry that old cock'.

The many details of the choir outing may reflect in some respects Bates's own youth, as his father Albert Bates was a passionate singer and choir director (The Vanished World, p. 29). Graham Greene, reviewing the collection in which the story first appeared (The Woman Who Had Imagination and Other Stories), wrote that 'I cannot enough admire the title story...The dresses and slang...the heat of the afternoon striking up into the crowded brake from the country road, the return at night...these frame, in the setting of the country house, an odd romantic episode. But the sureness of Mr. Bates's tact is seen in this: the kept in its place and is not allowed to do more than to throw into relief the lovely realism of the choir's outing'.

In The Woman Who Had Imagination and Other Stories (1934), Country Tales (1938), Country Tales (1940). Reprinted in Modern English Short Stories (London: Oxford, 1956).