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24 September 2014
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Laurie Lee: on writing Cider With Rosie
Laurie Lee in Slad montage
Laurie Lee put his Cotswold home village of Slad on the literary map

Slad writer and poet Laurie Lee immortalised a vanished era in rural life in his evocative book Cider With Rosie.

Relive his magical way with words in his last radio interview with BBC Gloucestershire.

LISTEN
Laurie Lee on his early days in Slad
 
Laurie Lee on his school days
 
Laurie Lee on Cider With Rosie
 
Laurie Lee on the Spanish Civil War
 
Laurie Lee on his favourite place - the Slad Valley
 

 

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audioBBC Radio 4 Literary Walks: Laurie Lee in Slad

Gloucestershire writers: Dick King-Smith

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Fact File

+ Laurie Lee was born in Stroud in 1914.

+ He moved to Slad, with his family when he was three after his father.

+ Laurie Lee's poems are generally about the English countryside and proved only reasonably successful.

+ Cider with Rosie, on the other hand, was an immediate best-seller, reaching a wide public with its images of village life from a bygone era of innocence and simplicity.

+ He died in 1997 and buried in the village churchyard.

 
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When I wrote it [Cider With Rosie], I was writing it in order to set down things I remembered with pleasure about our small, local life in Slad.

But I remember towards the end thinking "why am I writing this in a world which is so threatened by the dark clouds and threats of cosmic destruction?" This is only a small story, it can only interest my family and a few neighbours.

quote
I remember towards the end thinking 'why am I writing this in a world which is so threatened by the dark clouds and threats of cosmic destruction?' This is only a small story, it can only interest my family and a few neighbours.
quote
Laurie Lee

What happened was unpredictable but it also reminded many readers of their beginnings and their family recollections.

I was getting letters saying 'I've read your book and it's just like what my grandmother used to tell me' or 'your mother does remind me of my mother' and long pages about returning to their recollections of their beginnings in similar circumstances.

I was reminding them of their lives and I think that was why it was read so much, but this was quite unintentional and unpredictable.

It was the end of a semi-feudal life and it was also the beginning of one's own life. And these I think were the reasons why so many people read it - of course it was beautifully written too!

Actually I take that back, it's not beautifully written, it's funny.

I was very ill in my early days and on day my mother was having Tony, my younger brother, Dorothy who was very bored and about 12 went up to see her in the bedroom.

The conversation went like this:

"Where's Harold?" "Oh, he's cleaning his bicycle."
"Where's Marge?" "Oh, she's peeling spuds." "Where's Phil?" "Oh, she's playing with her dolls." "And where's Laurie?" "Oh, Laurie's dead."
"What?"
"Yes, he turned a very strange colour and the neighbour's laying him out in the kitchen."

"Nobody's going to lay out our Laurie," said Mother, giving one of her screams and leaping out of bed.

She dashed down into the kitchen and said: "What are you doing with our Laurie, you wicked woman."

She said "I'm just washing him".

Mother took me and wrapped me in a blanket and sent out for the vicar to christen me in case I did die that day.

I was very far gone, very far gone indeed and it was only Dorothy's boredom that saved me. Those things I remember vividly.

Listen
audio
BBC download guide Free Real player

>>Laurie Lee on his early days in Slad

>>Laurie Lee on his school days

>>Laurie Lee on the Spanish Civil War

>>Laurie Lee on his favourite place - the Slad Valley

 

 

 


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