On Thursday we returned to Bottengoms Farm to talk with Ronald about his book Akenfield, as we are hoping to start the new River Stour Festival in 2018 with a screening of Akenfield at the Quay Theatre in Sudbury. It had been a busy week for him as he was awarded a well deserved CBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours and had had lots of visitors to talk about this.
Akenfield was published in 1969, the title derives from acre field, as most villages started as a clearing in the trees of an acre field. It paints a fascinating portrait of a Suffolk village at a point in history and already reading it one senses how much village life and agriculture have changed since the 1960's. In 1974 it was made into a film by Peter Hall, we asked Ronald about how it translated into this medium and amusingly he said that as a book it was 'impossible to translate it into a film'. However, the film works successfully and again paints a very interesting picture of the life of a Suffolk Village
Ronald has continued to write in the same vein for most of his life with his Word from Wormingford series which he began as a weekly piece for the Church Times Letter from Wormingford on 19 November 1993 and continued until a few weeks ago. I have enjoyed reading these over the years, they paint a fascinating history of life in the English countryside on the Essex – Suffolk border, the effects of the seasons, changing agriculture, the localpeople and village life, together with the area's wildlife and traditions.
The recording that Stuart and I made we hope to include as introduction to the screening of Akenfield in January 2018. We will post more news about it here in due course. Meanwhile you can sign up for updates on the new River Stour Festival at this address