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April 19 , 2011

At the Yeoman's House


When in 1947 the young writer Ronald Blythe first visited Bottengoms Farm on the Essex-Suffolk border, the ancient house of the artists John and Christine Nash, he could not have guessed that this would in time become his own home and the centre of the writing life. It was to bring him fame with publication of his study of rural life, Akenfield (1969), now a Penguin Modern Classic. The old farm nestled in a valley, in a landscape little changed since the middle ages, immediately surrounded by a richly stocked garden created by the Nashes from the flinty fields. From his current perspective, Blythe looks back with affection to the friendships with artists, writers, farmers, gardeners and neighbors that were to enrich his life. At the Yeoman’s House is not merely a spellbinding fragment of autobiography, but also a fascinating picture of the history, topography, botany and folk-lore of a beautiful corner of England made famous in the paintings of John Constable and through Blythe’s own enchanting books.

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