The Big Read 2014
Cider with Rosie Laurie Lee
I was set down from the carrier’s cart at the age of three; and there with a sense of bewilderment and terror my life in the village began.
Every year we select a different title as our Festival Big Read, in association with Vintage Classics. This year, we are delighted to share Laurie Lee’s wonderful work, Cider with Rosie, with you through our Big Read Book Groups and special Big Read events.
Laurie Lee’s nostalgic memoir of childhood in a remote Cotswold village is one of the best-loved coming-of-age novels in English Literature. We hope that by making it this year’s Big Read, we encourage a whole new generation of readers to discover the writing of Laurie Lee in this centenary year of his birth.
Alice Broderick, Publicity Director, Vintage
The opening of Cider with Rosie is one of the world’s most widely-read and much-loved descriptions of childhood discovery and, of course, rural Gloucestershire. Laurie Lee was born in Stroud in 1914 and his evocative description of his childhood and a lost world of English rural life has become a modern classic. And whilst Cider with Rosie might be a celebration of childhood, As I Walked out One Midsummer Morning, and A Moment of War went on to become equally powerful evocations of leaving home and reaching out for new horizons.
I have so many memories of Laurie and my own childhood in Gloucestershire; we would walk across the valley and up to Swift’s Hill opposite Slad with great baskets of picnic and to look over towards the river Severn to celebrate the seasons. I am hoping that the focus on Laurie’s work this year might introduce him to people who have not yet read his work and also to introduce him as an artist.
Laurie Lee was born in Stroud, Gloucestershire, in 1914, and was educated at Slad village school and Stroud Central School. At the age of nineteen he walked to London and then travelled on foot through Spain, as described in his book As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning. In 1950 he married Catherine Polge and they had one daughter. Cider With Rosie (1959) has sold over six million copies worldwide, and was followed by two other volumes of autobiography: As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning (1969) and A Moment of War (1991). Laurie Lee also published four collections of poems, The Sun My Monument (1944), The Bloom of Candles (1947), My Many-Coated Man (1955) and Packet Poems (1960) as well as The Voyage of Magellan (1948), a verse play for radio, A Rose for Winter (1955), which records his travels in Andalusia, The Firstborn (1964), I Can’t Stay Long (1975), a collection of his writing, and Two Women (1983). Laurie Lee died in May 1997.
Schools Creative Writing Competition
Warhorse author Michael Morpurgo reads the winning entry to our creative writing competition for secondary schools based around this year’s Big Read, in association with Vintage Classics. Watch now