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Akenfield author Ronald Blythe celebrates 100th birthday

Beloved author of Akenfield Ronald Blythe celebrates his 100th birthday and appeals for the world to ‘slow down’

  • Ronald Blythe’s book Akenfield became a surprise bestseller in 1969
  • It portrays life in a Suffolk village from the late 19th century to the mid-1960s 
  • A new book called Next to Nature is being published to mark his centenary

The author of Akenfield, the much-loved portrayal of Suffolk village life, today celebrates his 100th birthday – with an appeal for the world to ‘slow down’.

Ronald Blythe’s book became a surprise bestseller in 1969.

Speaking from his cottage on the Essex-Suffolk border yesterday, he said he was delighted to have received a congratulatory message from King Charles.

To mark his centenary, a new book titled Next To Nature, A Lifetime In The English Countryside is being published.

Ronald Blythe, author of Akenfield, the much-loved portrayal of Suffolk village life, today celebrates his 100th birthday – with an appeal for the world to ‘slow down’

Blythe said it contained an important message – to slow down and appreciate the natural world. He said: ‘I am for ever telling people to take longer walks – to walk more slowly so that they can really see.’

Akenfield: Portrait Of An English Village is described by the Natural History Book Service as ‘a celebration of one of our greatest living writers, and an unforgettable ode to the countryside’.

It tells of life in a Suffolk village from the late 19th Century to the mid-1960s and is about, says Blythe, ‘time, and change’.

Five years later it was made into a film by Sir Peter Hall, in which locals starred. Blythe played a vicar

It wove his love of nature with an unflinching realism that rural life could be oppressive.

Five years later it was made into a film by Sir Peter Hall, in which locals starred. Blythe played a vicar, a part he mirrored in real life, becoming a Church of England lay canon.

He said he would be celebrating his centenary by greeting friends at home – and perhaps enjoying a glass of sherry.

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