Ronald Blythe at 100 – A life in writing

Dr Ronald Blythe CBE

Dr Ronald Blythe CBE turned 100 on Sunday, 6 November 2022.

Most famous for his book Akenfield, that traced the changes in English rural life from the 1880s to the 1960s, Ronald Blythe has written 36 books.

SPS commemorated his life and work on Saturday, 12 November 2022 with an event of talks, readings, video interviews, book launch and a showing of the film Akenfield.

Colin Whyles gave an opening talk illustrated with images and video to show Ronnie’s connection to SPS, his family background and how he became a writer.

We are very grateful to Ronnie’s family for providing much background material and for sharing their family photographs.

Alan Cudmore, an old friend of Ronnie, talked of their connection through the John Clare Society, of which Ronnie was President for 30 years.

After a break, the afternoon continued with a poem of Ronnie’s ‘In the Beginning’, read on video by Richard Maslen in the Desert Island Poems held with Ronnie in 2013.

Anne Boileau gave her own take on her friendship with Ronnie.

Elizabeth Soule read an extract from ‘Prospero’ from The Age of Illusion. This relates the beginning of the BBC in 1922, the year that Ronnie was born.

The Reverend Richard Titford read Ronnie’s introduction to No Glorious Dead, a book about the effect of war on Sudbury, and also from A Year at Bottengoms Farm.

Peter Sandberg read extracts from At the Yeoman’s House.

Diane Jackman read from The View in Winter, ‘The Class of ’09’.

The readings were interspersed with videos from Web of Stories and also SPS’s own videos of Ronnie’s Desert Island Poems.

SPS thanks Web of Stories for their permission to use their videos.

Ian Collins introduced David Holt, the voice actor, who read from Ronnie’s newest book Next to Nature: A Life in the English Countryside.

After another break, there was a showing of the film Akenfield.


Ronald Blythe’s family background and upbringing
Readings from Ronald Blythe’s books
Here is more of Ronald Blythe, here ‘interviewing’ Lord Phillips of Sudbury (Andrew Phillips), who was our Desert Island Poems castaway in 2014. This is the complete event, full of interesting stories, history and analysis of the poets, poems and events surrounding them.






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