Explore the world of H.E. Bates: Short Stories

Explore the world of
Short Stories
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Something short and sweet Dust Jacket

Story Collections

His first collection of stories was published when he was only 23. Early tales reflect the contrast between life in the boot and shoe making town where he lived and the rural landscape and characters of his grandparents’ small-holding.

Many of his stories are drawn from his love of travel, to pre war Germany, and later to Switzerland and Tahiti. In his post war stories he observed the changing world around him, the complexities of maturing love, and the eccentricities of elderly ladies and animal lovers, of whom he was especially fond.

Uncle silas sketch

My Uncle Silas

Uncle Silas is one of H.E.’s most loved comic characters. He wrote 29 stories about him. Based on his great uncle, Joseph Betts, H.E. described him as ‘going strong at over ninety...having lived a life of rapscallion robustness, plentifully soaked in country beer and home-brewed wine and spiced with dark adventures. There was about him a fine fruitiness, an early sagacity and deep-humoured cunning.'

The early tales are written through the eyes of a young boy and are almost wholly biographical, such as The Wedding in which the boy travels by pony and cart to the marriage of Uncle Joe’s son.

(Illustration of Uncle Silas by Edward Ardizzonne.)

Bates is supreme among English short story writers
- Graham Greene

Did You Know?

  • Uncle Joe had a blood-shot eye, which H.E. described as ‘giving him that gave him a look of devilish fascination'. When he took his future wife, Madge, to meet him she was just 17. She was terrified and swore she would never go back, and she never did!
  • During WW1 a German prisoner of war, Johann, worked on his grandfather’s small holding. H.E. wrote about Johann in The Hessian Prisoner. In real life Johann went home to Germany and stayed in touch by letter