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Flora Thompson Biography

(1876–1947), Daily News, Catholic Fireside, The Peverel Papers, Bog-Myrtle and Peat, Lady

candleford autobiographical age novel

British autobiographical novelist, born in Juniper Hill, Oxfordshire, faithfully described in her major novels as ‘Lark Rise’. The eldest of ten children of a stonemason and a former housemaid, she left school at the age of 12 to become a clerk at the post office in the village of Fringford, then at Greyshott in Surrey. In 1900 she married John Thompson, also a post office clerk, and moved first to Bournemouth, then to Liphook in Hampshire, and eventually to Dartmouth. Her early stories and articles appeared in various periodicals including the Daily News, and in 1920 she contributed a series of monthly nature notes for the Catholic Fireside (later known as The Peverel Papers). Her first publication was a collection of poems, Bog-Myrtle and Peat (1921). In 1937 she began a sequence of sketches about her childhood in the Lady and The Fortnightly Review which were to form part of her autobiographical trilogy: Lark Rise (1939), Over to Candleford (1941), and Candleford Green (1943), published together as Lark Rise to Candleford (1945). Narrated by Laura, her memories of childhood and youth are interwoven with acutely observed, unsentimental evocations of pre-industrial rural England with its slowly vanishing crafts and traditions. Together, the novels form a history of the social, economic, and cultural change that took place at the end of the nineteenth century. In her posthumously published Still Glides the Stream (1948) Thompson returns to Juniper Hill, described this time as ‘Restharrow’, and seen through the eyes of the elderly Charity Finch. A Country Calendar and Other Essays (1979) is a collection which includes the autobiographical novel Heatherley, written in the mid-1940s. This novel's description of the early struggles of a female intellectual of humble origins, in an age when such disqualifications were almost crippling, is evidence of Thompson's importance as a social historian.

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