H. E. Bates

Illustration © The Estate of John David Roberts. Reproduced with the permission of the William Roberts Society. Catalogue information based on the catalogue raisonné by David Cleall. For this and full details of the exhibitions cited, see the links below. Any auction prices quoted may not include all fees and taxes, such as VAT and Artist's Resale Right charges.

H. E. Bates

H. E. Bates, 1927
Pencil, 27.9 cm x 19.1 cm

Herbert Ernest Bates (1905–1974) was born into a family of shoemakers in Rushden, Northamptonshire. On leaving Kettering Grammar School, where his English teacher had encouraged him to write, he became, aged 16, first a reporter on a local paper and then a warehouse clerk for a leather merchant, where he had time to start writing seriously. In June 1926 his first novel, The Two Sisters, was published, after nine rejections. Later that summer Bates took a job at the Bumpus bookshop in London. He stayed at Bumpus for only a few months, but during that time he met the bookseller-publisher Charles Lahr (see Esther Lahr 1925), who published stories by Bates in his periodical New Coterie. This drawing was used as a frontispiece both to New Coterie no. 5 (spring 1927) and to two stories collected as H. E. Bates, The Spring Song and In View of the Fact That (London: E. Archer, 1927; San Francisco: Lantern Press, 1927). In August 1927 Bates was a member of a group including Lahr, Roberts and the writer Rhys Davies that made a visit to Lahr's birthplace in Germany. Bates later described the trip (and his first meeting Lahr) in his memoir The Blossoming World (1971). (See also The Prodigal Sets Out 1927–8.) Bates went on to achieve great success as a short-story writer and novelist, especially with the wartime series of stories (first appearing as by Flying Office X) about the exploits of the Royal Air Force (to which in 1941 Bates was recruited as a writer) and with the rustic novels that began with The Darling Buds of May (1958) and which were filmed as an extremely successful television series in 1991
PROVENANCE: Wyndham T. Vint > ? > Christie's 23 Mar. 2011 (£2,875) > National Portrait Gallery (NPG 6909)
EXHIBITION HISTORY: Perth 1936, Cheltenham 1937, Plymouth 1938, Bradford, Cartwright Memorial Hall (date unknown)

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