12 May 2010

H. E. Bates and Rushden, Northamptonshire

The novelist and short story writer Herbert Earnest Bates, who wrote as H. E. Bates, was born almost 105 years ago, on 16 May 1905, at 51 Grove Road, Rushden. His father A. E. Bates was director of Knight and Laurence Ltd, a shoe factory that stood very close to this house. At the age of six he moved to his grandfather's house in nearby Essex Road, and went to Newton Road School.

After Kettering Grammar School, and when shoemaking was a major industry in Rushden, he found a job in a leather warehouse, and drew heavily on his experience of the town when he wrote his autobiography, The Vanished World.
Rushden Hall, parts of which date from the 14th century, was used as the model for the building in Bates's book Love for Lydia: he had visited it as a reporter for the local newspaper.

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