H. E. Bates was born in 1905 at Rushden in Northamptonshire and was educated at Kettering Grammar School. He worked as a journalist and clerk on a local newspaper before publishing his first book after which he quickly acquired a reputation for his stories about English country life.
During the World War II, he was a squadron leader in the RAF and was commissioned to write stories about service life, which he published under the pseudonym of 'Flying Officer X'.
In 1958 the Larkin family appeared for the first time in The Darling Buds of May, the first of the enduringly popular Larkin family novels.
H. E. Bates was awarded the CBE in 1973 and died in 1974.