I learned to read very young when I was three at our little village school. I grew up in a home that didn’t have any books but when I went to my Grandfather’s I would read The Pilgrim’s Progress and Brer Rabbit and the Uncle Remus stories; the Tar-Baby is the one that I remember. My Grandfather who was born in 1864 had gone to America when he was about eighteen and I imagine that he picked them up there. He also had National Geographic magazines that I would read.

Later when I was about five or six we moved to Nottingham and I went to a proper school. I read My Son, My Son by Howard Spring and The Story of My Heart although these weren’t children’s books at all. Richard Jefferies called The Story of my Heart an autobiography but it was really much more than that and it left me with the happy, calming belief that I, and every human being, was as much part of nature as a tree, or a cloud, and this is a feeling that stayed with me for the rest of my life.

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