As part of my research into local agriculture in South Cambs. in the 1930s I have been reading more widely and have come across the works of Adrian Bell, who wrote about his experiences as a Suffolk farmer, both in fictional form, in articles and a regular newspaper column. The novels have been an unexpected delight.
Although there are elements of nostalgia (for the modern reader) his prose is never sentimental. As a consequence he offers some acurate insights in to the state of agriculture in the period between the First and Second World Wars. He was a very good writer with an ability to write well about character as well as provide finely drawn descriptions of the countryside and farming. His books make good bedside reading as well as offering much of value to the historian.
His first three works, published between 1930-32, ‘Corduroy’, ‘Silver Ley’ and ‘The Cherry Tree’ form a trilogy of works, which should be read together. ‘Cordury’ was an unexpected success, propelling Bell into a career both as a writer and farmer.
All in all, Adrian Bell wrote 14 novels on the themes of farming and country folk-lore, as well as collections of essays, non-fiction, poems and an autobiography, ‘My Own Master,’ (1961). He also produced the first Times crossword, which appeared on February 1, 1930 and was a regular crossword contributor to the paper throughout his life.