Laurie Lee: Author and Poet
Glasgow, Eric, Contemporary Review
With the death, on 13 May, 1997, of Laurie Lee, English literature has lost a writer of extraordinary fluency and spontaneity, as well as a poet of great sensitivity and creativity. He was born and died in the Gloucestershire village of Slad, and although his books embraced themes of travel, as well as rural life and society, it must always be as a writer about the quintessential countryside of Gloucestershire that Laurie Lee has so distinctively earned and sustained his place in the English literature of the twentieth century. In that capacity, as a literary exponent of a very limited and specific area of England, his place in literature is surely on a par with that of Emily Bronte or Thomas Hardy.
Born on 26 June, 1914, he had a vagabond childhood, rarely far from the orphanage. His formal education was fitful and uncertain. He had no paternal guidance. He learnt most of his poetic sensitivity from encounters with fields and hedgerows. So were formed both his mind and his imagination. It was to be crucial for all his mature work, as both author and poet. He grew up to be extraordinarily responsive to immediate and first-hand experience; a 'child of nature', if ever there were one. He subsequently wrote: 'a day unremembered is like a soul unborn, worse than if it had never been.'
After a brief spell as an office boy in Stroud, at the age of 19 and in the year 1933, equipped with nothing more substantial than a violin, a blanket and a tin of biscuits, he set forth from Gloucestershire to seek his fortune in life. Typically, his knowledge then of even local geography was quite rudimentary: 'I thought Tewkesbury was in Poland.' He walked his way to London: via Salisbury and Southampton. It was at Southampton that he …
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Publication information: Article title: Laurie Lee: Author and Poet. Contributors: Glasgow, Eric - Author. Magazine title: Contemporary Review. Volume: 271. Issue: 1578 Publication date: July 1997. Page number: 30+. © 1999 Contemporary Review Company Ltd. COPYRIGHT 1997 Gale Group.
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