Flora Thompson

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Flora Thompson
Born Flora Jane Timms
(1876-12-05)5 December 1876
Juniper Hill, Oxfordshire, England
Died 21 May 1947(1947-05-21) (aged 70)
Brixham, Devon, England
Resting place Longcross Cemetery, Dartmouth, Devon, England
50°20′55″N 3°35′48″W / 50.348601°N 3.596723°W / 50.348601; -3.596723
Employer Post office
Known for Author and poet
Notable work Lark Rise to Candleford
Spouse(s) John William Thompson
Children 2 sons and 1 daughter

Flora Thompson (5 December 1876 – 21 May 1947) was an English novelist and poet famous for her semi-autobiographical trilogy about the English countryside, Lark Rise to Candleford.

Early life and family[edit]

She was born Flora Jane Timms in Juniper Hill in northeast Oxfordshire, the eldest child of Albert Timms and Emma Dipper, a stonemason and nursemaid respectively. Albert and Emma had twelve children, but only six survived childhood.[1] Her favourite brother, Edwin, was killed near Ypres in 1916.[2] Flora was educated at the parish school in Cottisford and was described as 'altogether her father's child'.[3]

Flora worked in various post offices in southern England. The first of these was Fringford, a village about 4 miles (6.4 km) northeast of Bicester. Flora started work here in 1891, as assistant to the postmistress, Mrs. Kezia Whitton.[4][5] Among other post offices where Flora worked were those at Grayshott (Hampshire) and Yateley (Hampshire), and she later moved to Bournemouth.[6]

In 1903 she married John William Thompson at Twickenham Parish Church,[6] with whom she had a daughter, Winifred Grace (1903), and two sons, Henry Basil (born 1909) and Peter Redmond (born 1918–lost at sea, 1941).[7][8]

Literary output[edit]

A self-taught writer and a largely self-educated woman, Flora was thinking, as early as 1922, about writing of her childhood.[9] In 1911 she won an essay competition in The Ladies Companion for a 300-word essay about Jane Austen.[10] She later wrote extensively, publishing short stories and magazine and newspaper articles. She was also a keen self-taught naturalist, and many of her nature articles were anthologised in 1986.

Her most famous works are the Lark Rise to Candleford trilogy, which she sent as essays to Oxford University Press in 1938 and which were published soon after. She wrote Heatherley as a sequel thereto; it was published posthumously in 1948, along with her other novel, Still Glides the Stream.[11] Heatherly fictionalizes Flora's three years in Grayshott at the turn of the 20th century, when several of her lifelong interests took shape: the longing for education and culture and the desireto become a writer.[12]

All her books present a fictionalised, if autobiographical, social history of rural English life in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and are now considered classics. H. J. Massingham said of her in 1944, "...she possesses the attributes both of sympathetic presentation and literary power to such a degree that her claims can hardly be questioned."[13] Thompson's essays reveal an impressive knowledge of English literature and a gift for writing intelligent but accessible prose for a general audience. She approached novel writing as an artistic process. Her descriptions of nature are notably poetic.[14] Her biographer, Gillian Lindsay, concludes, "...this girl whose elementary education was not enough to allow her to take a Civil Service examination, had written a classic book, a piece of enduring literature," [15] and Shuckburgh considers it was ' passion and control' that made Flora such a good writer'.[12]


The death of her son during the Second World War affected her deeply and overshadowed the final years of her life.[16] Flora Thompson died in 1947 of a heart attack[6] in Brixham, Devon and is buried at Longcross Cemetery, Dartmouth, Devon. In 1948, her final work, Still Glides the Stream, was published posthumously.[16]




Nature articles[edit]


  1. ^ Census Returns of England and Wales, 1911. Kew, Surrey, England: The National Archives of the UK, Class: RG14; Piece: 8177; Schedule Number: 134.
  2. ^ "Casualty Details". Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Retrieved 1 August 2010. 
  3. ^ Timms, Betty, More Tales from Lark Rise, The Wychwood Press, Charlbury 2012; ISBN 9781902279459.
  4. ^ Lindsay, 2007, page not cited
  5. ^ United Kingdom Census 1881, parish of Fringford
  6. ^ a b c "In the Footsteps of Flora Thompson". Dorset Magazine. 1983. Retrieved 18 February 2016. 
  7. ^ "Ennever family history & ancestry: Flora Jane Thompson (née Timms), authoress". Retrieved 18 February 2016. 
  8. ^ Profile, cwgc.org; accessed 18 February 2016.
  9. ^ Lindsay, Gillian The Story of the Lark Rise Writer Robert Hale Ltd, 1990; ISBN 9781873855539
  10. ^ Winton Community Forum: Flora Thompson
  11. ^ Cover note OUP Press Paperbacks, Oxford; ISBN 0192811924
  12. ^ a b Introduction, The Peverel Papers - A yearbook of the countryside ed. Julian Shuckburgh, Century Hutchinson London 1986 ISBN 0712612963
  13. ^ Massingham H.J. (1944), Lark Rise to Candleford, Penguin Books, London 1973, ISBN 9780141037196
  14. ^ Hoffman, Ruth Collette. Without Education or Encouragement - The Literary Legacy of Flora Thompson, Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, Madison, 2009; ISBN 9780838642061
  15. ^ Lindsay, Gillian The Story of the Lark Rise Writer - Robert Hale Ltd, 1990 ISBN 9781873855539
  16. ^ a b Profile, odnb.com; accessed 18 February 2016.


  • Lindsay, Gillian (2007). Flora Thompson, the story of the 'Lark Rise' writer. Bordon: John Owen Smith. p. 30. ISBN 978-1-873855-53-9. 

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