H. E. Bates was born in 1905 in Northamptonshire. He worked as a journalist and clerk on a local newspaper before publishing his first book, The Two Sisters, when he was twenty. In the next fifteen years he acquired a distinguished reputation for his stories about English country life. During the Second World War he was a Squadron Leader in the R.A.F. The Darling Buds of May (1958), the first of the popular Larkin family novels, was followed by A Breath of French Air (1959), When the Green Woods Laugh (1960), Oh! To Be in England (1963) and A Little of What You Fancy (1970). His works have been translated into sixteen languages. H. E. Bates was awarded the C.B.E. in 1973 and died in January 1974.