H.E. Bates was born in 1905 at Rushden in Northamptonshire and was educated at Kettering Grammar School. He worked as a journalist and clerk on a local newspaper before publishing his first book after which he quickly acquired a reputation for his stories about English country life. During the World War II, he was a squadron leader in the R.A.F. and was commissioned to write stories about service life, which he published under the pseudonym of 'Flying Officer X'. In 1958 the Larkin family appeared for the first time in The Darling Buds of May, the first of the enduringly popular Larkin family novels. Bates was awarded the C.B.E. in 1973 and died in 1974.
"'One of the most exciting and perfectly executed pieces of fiction that I have ever read' Spectator * 'It haunts you, alike for the queer and mounting suspense and for the masterly portraits of the three men' Sunday Times * 'Few writers have a more exact feel for texture - of a flower, a face, a silence - and it is this that has value,' Spectator * 'H. E. Bates can achieve a quality of lyrical intensity that few contemporary novelists can match' The Times Literary Supplement"