English writer. Of his many novels and short stories, The Jacaranda Tree (1949) and The Darling Buds of May (1958) particularly demonstrate the fineness of his natural observation and compassionate portrayal of character. His work captures the feeling of life in the changing countryside of England in a simple, direct manner.
Bates was born in Rushden, Northamptonshire, and educated at Kettering Grammar School. He worked as a reporter and warehouse clerk before publishing The Two Sisters at the age of 21. From that time he published almost one book a year; in all about 30 novels and as many volumes of short stories. Fair Stood the Wind for France (1944) was based on his experience as a squadron leader in World War II, during which time he also wrote stories under the pseudonym Flying Officer X. His five novels featuring the Larkin family began with The Darling Buds of May, which 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). The novels were filmed as a television series in the 1990s.
His other novels include The Fallow Land (1932), A House of Women (1936), The Purple Plain (1947), Love for Lydia (1952), and The Feast of July (1954). His collections of short stories include The Woman Who Had Imagination (1934), The Flying Goat (1939), The Beauty of the Dead (1940), My Uncle Silas (1940), The Bride Comes to Evensford (1949), and The Four Beauties (1968).