Hatless to Hindhead

Susannah Clapp

Flora Thompson was born in 1876 in the hamlet of Juniper Hill in Oxfordshire, the daughter of a nursemaid and a stonemason. At the village school she was good at skipping and scripture. She was expected to go into service like most of her schoolfriends, but she was bad at sewing and ineffective with babies; when she was 14 she became a post-office clerk in a nearby village. Ten years later, she married a future postmaster; they had three children – Basil and Winifred and Peter. She published a few stories in magazines, and was sneered at by her husband’s relatives. In her sixties she wrote three books which made her famous as an articulate inhabitant of that strange planet, the countryside.

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[*] Michael Joseph, 1977.