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The Darling Buds of May by H E Bates

The Darling Buds of May by H E Bates

When I was commissioned by The Folio Society to illustrate 'The Darling Buds of May', I read the book properly for the first time, and at once lost myself the sheer abundance and appreciation of spring time, youth and feasting. My brief was to steer away from the more hackneyed style of the television series, and follow the details in the book as per the letter. Every page is brimming with descriptive narrative, and the plot flows very quickly, so my hardest task was to narrow down specific moments from the story that encapsulated the feel of the whole. Most importantly to make sure that every single detail is correct both to the copy and the period, without seeming over laboured, and keeping the breezy style of the narrative.

At that time my studios were in the Wiltshire country side, so I had the luxury of being able to draw from life. I was able to draw the chickens at the end of my lane, the iron gate from outside my window, and the geese and ducks who roamed around a village pond, tempting them with bread to follow me and stay in position long enough to sketch. Perhaps the hardest illustration was Pop at his glass galleon drinks cabinet, created presumably from H E Bates' imagination, as I could not find and existing one to draw from. So I had to consult a friend of mine who works with theatre props to work out how one might be constructed. My mother, who grew up in almost identical circumstances to the Larkin children, was able to tell me to tell me the exact kind of cigarettes Pop might smoke, (Woodbines), so I have used their packet design.

As a whole I hope I have captured the tone of the book: fresh, light hearted and abundant, with a sense of wit and observation too.

Society, Darling Buds of May, Ma Larkin
Folio Society, Darling Buds of May, Larkin, Mariette, Mr Charlton, nightingales
ociety, Darling Buds of May, Ma Larkin