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Herbert Ernest Bates, CBE, who wrote as H. E. Bates (May 16, 1905 January 29, 1974) was an English writer and author. He was born in Rushden, Northamptonshire and educated at Kettering Grammar School. After leaving school he worked as a reporter and a warehouse clerk. Many of his stories depict life in the rural Midlands of England -particularly his native Northamptonshire.
Bates was partial to taking long midnight walks around the Northamptonshire countryside - and this often provided the inspiration for his stories.
His first two novels, written when he was in his very early twenties were thrown away by him and nothing is known of them; his third novel, the first one published "The Two Sisters" was inspired by one of his midnight walks, which took him to the small village of Farndish. There, late at night, he saw a light burning in a cottage window and it was this that triggered the story. At this time he was working briefly for the local newspaper in Wellingborough, which he hated and then later at a local shoe factory, where he was able to hide undiscovered and uninterrupted for hours in the factory's leather store - where he was able to find time to write.
During World War II he was commissioned as a writer by the RAF and wrote a number of novels under the pseudonym of "Flying Officer X". His best war novel, however, was written under his own name, Fair Stood the Wind for France. His 1947 novel "The Purple Plain" (right) was made into a film starring Gregory Peck.
A prolific and successful author in his own lifetime, his greatest success was however posthumous, with the television adaptations of his stories The Darling Buds of May and its sequels, and My Uncle Silas. Pop Larkin and his family were inspired by a colourful character seen in a local shop in Kent by Bates and his family when on holiday. The man (probably Wiltshire trader William Dell, also on holiday) turned up to the shop with a huge wad of rubber-banded bank notes and proceeded to spoil his trailer load of children with Easter eggs and ice creams.
In 1973 H. E. Bates was awarded the CBE.
H.E. Bates knew from an early age that he wanted to be a writer, and spent many of his formative years in nearby Higham Ferrers at the home of his maternal grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. George Lucas. This gave him an affinity with this small ancient borough which lasted all his life, and he set a number of his books there, most famously The Sleepless Moon and many of his Uncle Silas Stories revolve around fictitious versions of his relatives and local residents in the Town.