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Happy 100th Birthday, Miss Read! — 47 Comments

  1. What a wonderful and captivating interview, Victoria. I really enjoyed it. I too loved the Miss Read books. Thanks so much for this feature and ‘Happy 100th Birthday to Dora’. She is sadly missed but what a legacy she left for us all to enjoy again and again!

    Janice xx

  2. Your blog is always so interesting with fabulous photos, so I’ve awarded you the Sunshine Award, Victoria. Do pop over to my blog this week if you’d like to collect it.

    Janice xx

  3. Thank you so much, Janice! So glad you enjoyed the interview. Miss Read’s books are so special, aren’t they? I never tire of them. I shall pop over to your blog anon …

  4. Thank you so much for this interview, I just loved reading it. I too adore Miss Read’s books and have read them so many times I’ve lost count! But I still keep going back to them, there’s just something so special about the books. Yes, the cosy feeling is mixed with realism but I never fail to be comforted by these wonderful stories which take me to another time and place. (On another subject, I picked up your new book today and can’t wait to start it!)

  5. hotho? Where did that come from? Am on my new iPad and this is the first time I’ve used it- but my name is Kim! 🙂

  6. I love the Miss Read books, both Fairacre and Thrush Green. I’m trying to collect them all. I don’t mind how often I read them, they don’t get boring. They are a good way of escaping but also make one think how hard life is.

  7. What a lovely surprise to find other Miss Read Fans. I miss her books. I’ve got them all and read them all. I rotate them and now I live in the country I can appreciate them more. It is sad to see so many village schools closed and it is sad that the ecology of villages have changed so much since Miss Reads wrote her novels.

  8. I cannot dream of parting with my Miss Read books. Even when the pages are almost falling out of the bindings, I just turn to Kindle and order it. I have found so many threads over the years, 99% of them woman, who have read and reread all of Dora Saint’s books. She made an enormous impact on so many lives all over the world. I am happy to say I am one of them.

  9. I was introduced to the Fairacre books by my English teacher in First Year of Grammar school, way back in 1971. Ever since I’ve been addicted and return to them regularly. My late father also became a fan and between us the old Penguin editions have become worn but by affectionate devotion!
    I always think they make a nice complement to Agatha Christie’s village mysteries, the Miss Marple’s especially!
    The character of Miss Read always reminded me somewhat of my own very old Primary One Infants Mistress, Miss Bessie Ferrier who trained way back during the Great War under a pupil teacher system not dissimilar to how Dolly learned her craft! Such sweet souls, full of wisdom!

  10. excellent interview, always meant to write & say how much I enjoyed her books & how I reread them, never did but sure she knew how they were loved by so many.

  11. I loved reading other readers comments on the Miss Read books…always found them captivating and the sort that made the reader, well for me at least, as if you were actually in the story and witnessing conversations. They were the ‘can’t put down’ type of books which I absolutely love. Lovely to read the interview and have an insight into Miss Read’s life. Now of course I need to visit the library and get out on loan Miss Read’s autobiographies.

  12. It is good to be among Miss Read’s friends. Thank you for this interview with Dora Saint’s daughter. Even more, thank you to those who’ve commented. I feel very fortunate to have found these books, to have reread it for more than 20 years, and to connect to my own small village – a resident-owned mobile home park, in California, the more strongly for them.

  13. Wonderful Miss Read, I turn to her books so often I have them all and several on tape. I particularly enjoy the recordings made by June Whitfield, I’m sure she is as fond of all the characters as we, the listeners are. The voices she produces are just as I imagine them!
    Especially Mrs. Pringle! Always does she produce a smile as I listen over & over again!

  14. I was pleased to find this interview with Jill Saint. I began reading the Miss Read books in my first year of graduate school in 1970. My family had moved around a lot, and my university community was the closest thing to village life I’d ever known. I had a challenging graduate program, and was browsing in a bookstore for some light reading, as a bit of escape; picked up one of the books on a whim, but found in it wonderful storytelling, and a bit of peace that helped me during that time, and ever since. I own all the adult books, and every few years read them through. I seem to turn to them when I need a village frame of mind. I learned a great deal of value in the books on how to deal with life and people. I regret I never wrote to Dora Saint to tell her how important her books were to me.

  15. I agree with Dee’s comment.I regret not writing to Miss Read to tell her how much I appreciate her writing and insights on human nature. I have all here books but have started collecting the original hardbacks. I love Gwen Watford’s audio book reading of the novels and so did Miss Read herself. At the end of one of the recordings is an interview with Dora Saint when she was in her nineties. All Miss Read fans should try to hear it. I’m sorry I can’t think on which book it was recorded.
    I live in Australia and would love to write to another Miss Read fan, particularly one who lives in England. You have to be an Anglophile to love her descriptions of rural England.

  16. I wanted to respond to the idea that village life of the Miss Read books, rural life in general, is seen merely as bucolic, gentle, even cosy by those who don’t really know any better. I think in the kind of close village communities such as Dora Saint made her settings, there was certainly knowledge of and concern for one’s neighbors, a kind of closeness that many in the post 1960s have lost. I lived in rural areas until I left home for college, though we moved about a good bit so I did not have that life-long Miss Clare kind of village life which does feel somehow safer, even with poverty, violence, and all real the things people everywhere experience. My parents on back to my great-great grandfather, who had first settled in the northwestern American frontier, did have that kind of intimate, familial bond in their small towns and hamlets which really doesn’t exist much anymore. Flora Thompson’s semi-autobiographical Lark Rise stories were in that vein as well. So few of us really know our neighbors anymore, and for many of us it calls up an inner longing for a deeper level of connection, and I think that’s why we happily return to Miss Read’s villages.

  17. This interview has refired my keenness to reread all my Miss Read collection-please excuse the pun. My mother introduced me to her works and I am glad to have written to Mss Read to thank her for her wonderful books . Suzanne Rivett I am happy to write to you as another fan . Are you on facebook? I am Marilyn Andrews Younger so can easily be found or email gemyounger7@sky.com

  18. My Miss Read books are treasures to me and I would never think of giving them up. But I’m also trying to collect them on my kindle, and lately as my eye sight is getting worse I’ve been trying to get them as audio books. However, being in the United States is a problem in that regard. None of the Fairacre series (my favorite) is availae to us, and only a limited few of the Thrush Greebn ones are. This is a very sad thing for me, and I would dearly love to know how to change that. Does anyone know of who to go to for a sort of lobbying? I know that in my very near future I will be unable to read for myself, which means giving up my Miss Read books. Could there be a way to get these audio books to us here in America?

  19. Pam Barber, I read your comment a while ago and could not stop thinking about it. Would it not be possible for you to get the audio books via the ubiquitous Amazon?
    I had a similar story with the Jan Karon books (partly inspired by Miss Read so I read somewhere) Penguin only publish them in the USA. Fortunately my mother loves them and, on her trips to America to visit family, bought them and brought them home for me.
    Do you have a kind family member or friend that travels to the UK? The other thing I have done is to scour charity shops (thrift shops?) and have augmented my Jan Karon collection from time to time.
    I do hope you succeed in your endeavours to get the audio books. All the best

  20. I started reading Miss Read’s books when I was stuck in bed for three months after a spinal operation, they were and still are my gems. I have all the Fairacre and Thrush Green books most of them in hard back although I do have a few paperbacks.
    I wrote to Miss Read many years ago telling her how much I loved her books, it was near Christmas and was overjoyed to receive a Christmas card from her plus some gummed autographed stickers to put in my books. She was such a busy lady but found time to answer and send a card to one of her fans. She was what was known in days gone by as a ‘Real Lady.’
    I would also like to write to another Miss Read fan and have made a note of the e-mail address of Gem Young and hope you won’t mind me e-mailing you Marylin. I would also love to write to Suzzane Rivett if anyone knows her address.
    I loved reading your interview Victoria it gave a real insight to Miss Read and her writing.
    I am a country girl at heart and went to a village school although we did have more than two classrooms and two teachers. I live in a village in Devon although my home county is Worcestershire.

  21. I often regret not having written to Miss Read to let her know how much I love her books. I have read all her books, including the autobiographies, and do not tire of reading them again and again. I have often thought that it would be so lovely to have a TV serial based on the Thrush Green books – in my mind I can almost imagine the characters and scenes!

  22. I did write to Miss Read, I enjoyed her books so much and in particular, Over the Gate and she very kindly replied to me to my astonishment. I continue to read and listen to her books as an alternative to listening to all the bad news we seem to hear these days.

  23. I am fortunate to have randomly picked up “Thrush Green” while looking for a book in a nearby library. I haven’t stopped reading Miss Read after that. I don’t have words to explain how lovely it is to read a few pages of Miss Read everyday.

  24. For US audio books try Blackstone Press, but don’t hold your breath. Amazon is probably your best bet. Good luck!

  25. I have adored Miss Read since I found Thrush Green in a book/stationery shop long, long ago on our Country Club Plaza in Kansas City, Missouri. I introduced the books to my mother and she loved them as much as I. After my mother died, I wrote to Miss Read via her publisher to let her know how much her books had meant to my mother and still meant to me. Several months later, before Christmas 1996, I came home from work to find a slim, pale-blue air-mail letter from England in my mail box. I could not imagine who it could be from, but when I opened it and saw that it was from Miss Read, I burst into tears. I had never understood “bursting into tears” until that moment. I have saved this treasured letter in which she thanked me for mine and told me a bit about her current life. She also invited me to write or visit if I returned to England. I would not allow myself to write again because I didn’t want to take her away from her work but I’ve often wished I had. I have all the books and continue to feel blessed to have happened upon them so long ago.

  26. Thank you for sharing this lovely interview and to Jill for doing it!
    I love Mrs Saints wonderful books, they have been and still are honey to my heart! I have purchased as many as I can from far and wide. I too wish I had thanked her for writing them while she was living. I am happy and grateful that she shared them with us in America. I would love to see her stories made into a movie or series! May God bless her for the joy, comfort and legacy she has left through her books. She lives on through her lovely daughter as well.

  27. I love all the Miss Read books and cannot make my mind up whether I prefer the Fairacre stories or the Thrush Green.
    I am a retired librarian and many of my readers loved the Miss Read stories.
    I have them all and I regret that I was unable to thank her for all the pleasure I have had reading them.
    I am now reading them again.
    They are worth their weight in gold. Thank you Miss Read

  28. I am in the process of collecting all the Miss Read’s. I know I can order them from Amazon, but I prefer finding them in dusty used book stores! Her calm wisdom and sense of humor and appreciation of the simple, but complex is wonderfully expressed. Like many of the others who have commented, I have read her books over and over and never tire of them.

  29. I found one of the Miss. Read books in a Library in Rosettenville, Johannesburg, South Africa a good couple of years ago. From reading the first pages I was intrigued with the story, the characters, the village, the school the animals and the writer herself. I have a vivid imagination and could live myself into the story. From then onward I made a point to read as many of her books as I could. After not finding all the books through the library services in Johannesburg, I started looking out in charity and second hand shops for Miss. Read books. This all started around 2011. When I visited my fiancé in the UK in 2012, we went on holiday to a caravan park in Chapel St. Leonards. We drove through Horncastle and I saw a bookshop whilst driving through called “Tim Smith Books” My fiancé didn’t stop for me on that day so I could go into the shop but when we came back two weeks later he did stop. I picked up quite a few Miss. Read books from that shop that day and I was so happy, I cannot describe how happy. In the years following that, I picked up some books at car boot sales in the UK, at charity and second hand book shops in South Africa and in the last five months, I took an animal to the Booysens, Johannesburg SPCA for treatment and low and behold, there was another Miss. Read book among all the other books that were donated to be sold, most not worthy for me to look at but it was worth going through the lot to find the one treasure and it cost me only R10.00 (+- 40p)The book is “The Year at Thrush Green, published in 1995, the first edition of this book, a hard cover and in pristine condition. I am a hoarder of books and have books in different places but I think that I have most of Miss. Read’s books, some first editions which I paid more for and I probably short less than five of her books it not only one or two once I have them all together. Miss. Read was born on 17 April 1913, my late gran was born on 16 March 1913, just a month before Miss. Read and I was born on 16 April 1961. I was very happy to read that my favourite writer of all times was born just a day away from me, no wonder I love her books so much, we must be thinking alike even when I was born in another country – yet, we were still under British rule when I was born as South Africa only became a republic on 31 May 1961 after which we changed our monetary system and in the same year the trams were taken off the streets of Johannesburg – what a shame that was. I always feel deprived of being able of becoming a British citizen since I was born before South Africa became independent from the UK and later on went into the Apartheid era and the rights of people my age and older were affected hugely by politics, something that we had no say over as a minority. I wonder what Miss. Read’s view about all of that would have been and if she could see a story in a South African girl who would have loved to become an English Rose if it wasn’t that politics had gotten in the way.

  30. I am the biggest fan and sory to hear Dora is no longer with us I went to the library back in the day in my 20s and couldnt get enough of this lovely storys now have my own collection and reread these books many times xxxx

  31. I was thrilled to come upon this interview quite by chance this evening! Thank you so much, Victoria, and thanks to all your bloggers! It’s wonderful to realize how many other women are as entranced with Dora Saint’s books as I am, and how many rotate them continuously, or revisit them often as time goes by, as do I. I’m not sure where your other readers live (are you all British?) but this lifelong fan hails from Albuquerque, New Mexico 🙂

  32. Just having started “Further Afield” for who know how many times, I decided to Google “Miss Read fans” and found this delightful interview. I have read Dora Saint’s books over and over since I first discovered them at my local library years ago. They’re still on the shelves 50 years later, and well thumbed over. I find something new every time I read one of the Miss Read books. Just this evening, my heart softened toward Mrs. Pringle, when she left a note for Miss Read after she’d had had a fall: “Have put all to rights and fed cat. Will come up this evening. Can live in if needed.” Dora Saint’s characters had such rich and varied personalities. They were both simple and complex at the same time.

  33. I love reading your interview about miss read and to find I’m not alone in reading her books over and over . Thrush green are my favourites

  34. belated but have been reading Miss Read for close to 50 years and have carried her books with me across the Pacific and through China and all over India and never stopped enjoying them for their depth and their light heartedness. I wrote to her after using her books on my radio show in Japan and met her many times subsequently and took her and her husband to dinner when I finally returned to the U.K. She was charming and intelligent and wonderful fun.I feel her books are underated as she had a deep awareness of the human condition. I use in my work her books and continue the joy of reading myself.

    Thank you both for a fantastic and elegant interview

  35. Thank you so much for this wonderful interview, which I found by chance. How lovely to hear from fellow Miss Read fans, and to know that others appreciate this wonderfully gifted writer as I do. Her books have been so important to me throughout my life, since my dear mother introduced me to them whilst I was in my teens, many years ago! They have helped me through the loss of both my sister and mother at young ages, as it is always so comforting and reassuring to return to both Fairacre and Thrush Green. And Christmas would not be Christmas without revisiting Mrs. Berry in ‘The Christmas Mouse’, one of the best books ever written. I too regret not writing to Dora Saint to thank her, and tell her how much her books meant to me. God bless her.

  36. I too am a long – time fan of “Miss Read” who I discovered in my local library back in the early 80’s when I was twenty. I have also re-read the books many times, particularly during difficult times in my life when I needed some escapism. Does anyone else feel as I do that they would like a map of the villages? I am back in Thrush Green at the moment and have a picture in my mind of the village. However, it keeps changing;just as I think I know where Harold Shoosmith lives in relation to Winnie Bailey or Ella ? for example, I read that ‘he turned left out of his gate and passed the school'(or whatever, please don’t quote me on this!) Then I’m thrown. This isn’t in any way a complaint, and I don’t remember it bothering me before; perhaps it’s because I’m getting old! I would be interested to hear if anyone else has the same problem?
    Thank you Victoria for bringing us this lovely insight into the world of
    Dora Saint and to Jill for giving the interview. How much duller the world would be for her fans without ‘Miss Read’ in it.

  37. I love Miss Read books, it is escapism for me. When I feel down I always turn to Miss Read better than therapy. She takes me into a world of tweeness and I love it. When I grow up I want to be Miss Read. Thank you for helping me in difficult times. Anne

  38. The Miss Read books encouraged me to become a village schoolteacher and I had the pleasure of teaching at a delightful two teacher school just a couple of miles from Dora Saint’s home. I wrote to her at the time and received a lovely reply

  39. I too am of course an avid fan of Miss Read and looking in my”Book of Books I have read” I see that I have read each one many many times; for some reason, “Fresh from the Country” seems to be the winner so far having been read 7 times! For me the books have added enjoyment as I was brought up in Kent in the 1950’s and can remember going to a school not dissimilar to Fairacre and our village was also fairly similar. that said, I love all the characters in all her books and always find them very comforting to read.

  40. Loved reading your interview. I have been to Witney and walked up the hill to Wood Green where Dora Saint was evacuated as a teacher with her school
    Useless fact did you know that the late Paula Yates had several Miss Read books in her house when she died

  41. My comment here may come so long after this interview but it doesn’t lessen my love for Miss Read and her books. It’s true that each time my spirits need rejuvenation, I turned to her 2 series. In fact, her books helped me made the difficult decision to retire early from a stressful job 3 years ago. I dreamed of a life in the English country side but of course that isn’t possible for me. Her stories have impacted my life and enriched my soul. May her daughter Jill know how much Dora Saint’s writings had enriched so many people far and wide. I’m signing off as an ardent admirer from Malaysia.

  42. Have just returned to Victoria’s blog, and am so grateful to you all for your kind comments about Miss Read. She would be honoured and delighted.

    A play has been written of Thrush Green, the first TG book, about the May fair, and has been performed once. We now have permission to perform it again on Woodgreen, the real Thrush Green, in 2019, so mark your diaries and tell your friends!

    Jill S

  43. I just came across this blog for the first time, having googled “Thrush Green Miss Read” in hopes of finding a MAP of the village, as another reader requested, above! I started the Miss Read books because I love the Mitford books and read a quote from Mitford author Jan Karon that she was inspired by the Miss Read books. One thing I love about the Mitford hardbacks is the MAP of Mitford that appears on the insides of the covers! Would love to see a map of Thrush Green since, like the reader above, each book seems to indicate a different lineup of the various houses and buildings around the green. Was thrilled to recently find online an original hardback with book jacket of “The Christmas Mouse” – what a wonderful, cozy, Christmas story. Love Miss Read and love my collection of hardback copies, especially Thrush Green!

  44. I have only recently found this interview and comments .
    I loved reading all of miss read books . They are priceless to me Esp the hardbacks .
    I started reading the books when I was only 21 and had moved away from home ..
    I adored buying the books and could not wait to get them home . That was back in the eighties!
    I agree with so many of the comments.
    They are my ‘go to books’ to escape into. Sometimes if I feel I need some comfort.
    I’m reading Tyler’s row at the moment .
    I love my collection and hope they will all be treasured.
    I also wrote to Miss read ( Dora Saint ).
    She replied both times and I was so very touched.
    She sent me some signed stickers for my book-
    I treasure a postcard she sent when her eyes were failing and she still took the trouble to write .
    she said
    ” The skylight never got fixed”. Awww.. isn’t that wonderful?.
    There is something hard to define about the characters and the places.
    But without a doubt the books have brought me great joy .
    I read ‘The Christmas Mouse’ every Christmas Eve .
    It’s very special .
    I have to say I prefer the old covers on the books – I don’t think they modernization( I know it’s to reach a new market ) in my opinion- I expect we all have favourite covers that we treasure .
    Thankyou for reading .

  45. Judy Anne – thank you so much for sharing your special message from Dora Saint about the skylight – how wonderful. I love it!

  46. I am so pleased to have found this blog. Miss Read’s books have accompanied through my life and helped me in so many ways through very difficult periods. I hope I may get the chance to see the play next year at Woodgreen
    Lorraine

  47. How lovely to see all these comments about the wonderful Miss Read. I have loved her books all my life and read them over and over. I always feel as though I’m among friends. I have always regretted that I didn’t write to this lady in her lifetime and thank her for the wonderful stories she told. So glad to see such appreciation here by so many. Rest in peace Miss Read.

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