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I belonged to a generation which saw, by chance, the end of a thousand years’ life

Author Laurie Lee recounted in later life how children visiting his village, Slad in Gloucestershire, would enquire where his grave was located.

The writer was in middle age when his famous memoir, Cider With Rosie, became a classic and before long, a part of school exam boards’ set texts. Set in a between the two world wars, in an era almost unrecognisable to younger generations, children studying his book simply assumed he must be long dead, he explained in a TV interview during the 1980s.

The first book in his bestselling trilogy, Cider With Rosie recounts Laurie’s poor, but seemingly halcyon childhood in rural Slad, where he returned to live in later life.

As a young man, Laurie took on an office job, but left to explore Spain, travelling mostly on foot, recounting the experience in his second memoir As I walked Out One Midsummer Morning.

He was brought home by a British ship when the Spanish Civil War broke out in 1935, but enlisted as a volunteer with the International Brigade fighting against General Franco’s Nationalists.

Laurie’s enduring literary success lies in how he recognised and captured the last moments of traditional rural ways that would soon disappear for good.

“I wanted to communicate what I had seen, so others could see it,” he said.