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Alison Uttley

Country World

Alison Uttley is best known for her Little Grey Rabbit books and similar stories. Country World: Memories of childhood is a collection of her autobiographical work telling of her early years, selected by Lucy Meredith. The book tells of how Uttley (née Taylor) was born on a Derbyshire farm in the depths of winter some way from the nearest village. But being cut off from the rest of the world was not so much of a problem: throughout the book we learn about the self-sufficiency of the farm, which was virtually a community in itself.

In some of the stories Uttley gives herself the name 'Susan Garland', and I sometimes felt that she didn't want to make the stories too personal or specific. For instance, the chapter about Christmas mostly described a typical Christmas, rather than any particular year, although the last three chapters do tell of definite events - a visit to the dentist, a school prize, and her first day at the big school. Overall the book gives an interesting and sometimes rather poetic account of a young girl's life in the country, and gives a clue to the source of Uttley's ideas for her children's books.