I’ve been reading A.S.Byatt’s Oxford Book of English Short Stories. I was a bit disappointed. Coppard, Pritchett and Bates were in there, but not showing their best. Wells, Kipling and Saki were included, but with stories which sore heads and bloodstained walls could be made on! Aumonier, found by Hensher in his ‘British’ offering for Penguin, was missing, and so were Quiller-Couch and L.A.G.Strong. Arthur Morrison was well represented though.


There were one or two very bright buttons, including Elizabeth Taylor and Mary Mann. The latter was described as ‘the wife of a Norfolk Farmer.’


I wondered if her husband was ever described as the husband of a Norfolk writer, perhaps at the turnip market…..


That do be old farmer Mann


He be ‘ubby to that there Norfolk Writer, Mary..

Urr! Do is turmits be any good?

Dunno. Her stories do be, though


Most striking, in the introduction, were two statements I was surprised to find there/


‘There is a reluctance to think about Englishness’

‘There is even a hinted feeling that to think about Englishness might lead to racism and xenophobia’



Mike’s collection of essays on the tales of A.E.Coppard is available here

Now available in Paperback!

Now available in Paperback!