“Although Blythe never laboured on the land, AKENFIELD gave voice to those who did. “If you read John Clare, he makes you realise that they weren’t just lumpen creatures, even if they couldn’t read and write. They had dreams and visions which we don’t know about.” Have we lost something because we lack people labouring on the land like Clare, who could write about it in a more intimate way? “Hardy never worked on the land but he was among people who did. I actually haven’t worked on this land but I’ve seen the land ploughed by horses,” Blythe says. “So I have a feeling and understanding in that respect – of its glory and bitterness.”"
The cultural-artistic life that Blythe has managed to lead without venturing overly far from Suffolk is a rich and fantastic and formidable one. You will expect that he knew Britten and Forster and John Nash and the Holsts; I bet you hadn’t anticipated that he once had a fling with Patricia Highsmith.
“Well, it wasn’t my fault really. She lived four miles from me and she came over every week for several years. I admired her enormously. She was a very strange, mysterious woman. She was lesbian but at the same time she found men’s bodies beautiful. And I think she found me beautiful. But it was ridiculous, really. She also drank like a fish which I don’t do.”
As for where he lives and what he has made of it in words, Blythe could not be more touchingly direct:
“If you go for walks with a friend in the countryside, that is a lovely experience. But if you live as I live in the middle of nowhere by yourself, that’s another experience. There’s nothing mystical about it, but it makes me dream. If you’re in this house, surrounded by fields every day, something happens to you. I don’t know what it is.”