Points West Archive Films
Laurie Lee in 1984
Laurie Lee: 1984
To mark the 25th anniversary of the publication of 'Cider with Rosie' in 1984, BBC Points West visited the Gloucestershire writer and poet Laurie Lee at his home in Slad near Stroud.
"Edna… Bertha… Maureen… Gertie… Rosie… ah, yes, that's it," muses Laurie Lee, 'Cider with Rosie.'
He must have told the story of how he chose the title for the first book in his autobiographical trilogy hundreds of time and yet when Chris Vacher from BBC Points West visited Laurie Lee in his Gloucestershire home in November 1984, it was like he was telling the story for the very first time.
"Cider with Rosie" in paperback
'Cider with Rosie', written in 1959, is probably Laurie Lee's most celebrated work, having been a favoured text for 'O' Level English exams and one which continues to attract thousands of readers the world over, dealing, as it does, with childhood experiences and the awkwardness of growing up.
Born in the same month as the outbreak of World War One - June 1914 - Laurie Lee's own tumultuous baptism into adulthood included a spell fighting in the Spanish Civil War – an experience that later he would write about in his personal memoirs and one that formed the basis of the final book in his trilogy, 'A Moment of War'.
It would have been a very different world from the one he occupied in the peaceful Slad valley, growing up with Rosie – and his family, with the "voices, accents, scents, sounds… smell of the cottage… and the village…" all around him.
Telling a good story
During World War Two, Lee wrote poetry and plays and became a documentary filmmaker – a clue perhaps as to why he seems so relaxed in front of the cameras.
But most commentators agree, Laurie Lee and Gloucestershire – and Slad in particular – are inseparable – and the West Country is a better place for such a meeting of mind and physical being.
The Woolpack, Slad
Naturally, such a reputation for telling a good story led to a huge amount of prominence for the Gloucestershire writer, and up until his death in May 1997, hundreds of people would come to Slad in the hope of meeting the man who captured a moment and shared it so generously with the rest of the world.
When so many other writers choose to leave behind their roots and head for the smoke of the big city, it is always heartening to hear of such a person who opts to stay put in the place that inspired their ability.
Laurie Lee was such a man – and because he chose to maintain his association with the Slad valley, 'Cider with Rosie' has more genuine appeal – another reason for it remaining such a popular piece of writing today.
last updated: 22/01/2009 at 10:28
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