As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning

As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning (1969) is a memoir by Laurie Lee, a British poet. It is a sequel to Cider with Rosie which detailed his life in post First World War Gloucestershire. The author leaves the security of his Cotswold village in Gloucestershire to start a new life, at the same time embarking on an epic journey by foot.

It is 1934, and as a young man Lee walks to London from his Cotswolds home. He is to live by playing the violin and by labouring on a London building site. When this work draws to a finish, and having picked up the phrase in Spanish for 'Will you please give me a glass of water?', he decides to go to Spain. He scrapes together a living by playing his violin outside the street cafés, and sleeps at night in his blanket under an open sky or in cheap, rough posadas. For a year he tramps through Spain, from Vigo in the north to the south coast, where he is trapped by the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War.

Experiencing a Spain ranging from the utterly squalid to the utterly beautiful, Lee creates a story which evocatively captures the spirit and atmosphere of the towns and countryside he passes through in his own distinctive semi-poetic style. He is warmly welcomed by the Spaniards he meets and enjoys a generous hospitality even from the poorest villagers he encounters along the way.

As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning
First edition (UK)
AuthorLaurie Lee
IllustratorLeonard Rosoman
Cover artistShirley Thompson
PublisherAndré Deutsch (UK)
Atheneum Publishers (US)
David R. Godine, Publisher (US)
Publication date
914.6/0481 19
LC ClassPR6023.E285 Z463 1985
Preceded byCider with Rosie 
Followed byA Moment of War 


In 1934 Laurie Lee leaves his home in Gloucestershire for London. He visits Southampton and it is here that he first tries his luck at playing his violin in the streets. His apprenticeship proves profitable and he decides to move eastwards. Lee makes his way along the south coast and then turns inland and heads north for London. He meets up with his American girlfriend, Cleo, who is the daughter of an American anarchist.

Cleo's father finds him a job as a labourer and he is able to rent a room. However, he has to move on as his room is taken over by a prostitute. He lives in London for almost a year as part of a gang of wheelbarrow pushers. Once the building nears completion, he knows that his time is up and decides to go to Spain because he knows the phrase in Spanish for "Will you please give me a glass of water?".

He lands in Galicia in July 1935. Joining up with a group of three young German musicians, he accompanies them around Vigo and then they split up outside Zamora. By August 1935 Lee reaches Toledo, where he has a meeting with the South African poet Roy Campbell and his family, whom he comes across while playing his violin. They invite him to stay in their house.

By the end of September Lee reaches the sea. Then he comes to the Sierra Morena mountains. He decides to turn west and follow the Guadalquivir, adding several months to his journey, and taking him to the sea in a roundabout way. Lee turns eastwards, heading along the bare coastal shelf of Andalusia. He hears talk of war in Abyssinia. He arrives at Tarifa, making another stop over in Algeciras.

He decides to stick to his plan to follow the coast round Spain, and sets off for Málaga, stopping in Gibraltar. During his last days in Malaga his violin breaks. After his new line of work, acting as a guide to British tourists, is curtailed by local guides, he is fortunate to meet a young German who gives him a violin.

In the winter of 1935 Lee decides to stay in Almuñécar. He manages to get work in a hotel. Lee and his friend Manolo, the hotel's waiter, drink in the local bar alongside the other villagers. Manolo is the leader of a group of fishermen and labourers and they discuss the expected revolution.

In February the Socialists win the election and a Popular Front begins. In the spring, the villagers, in an act of revolt, burn down the church but then change their minds. In the middle of May, there is a strike and the peasants come in from the countryside to lend their support as the village splits between 'Fascists' and 'Communists'.

In the middle of July 1936 war breaks out. Manolo helps organise a militia. Granada is held by the rebels, and so is Almuñécar's neighbour Altofaro. A British destroyer from Gibraltar arrives to pick up any British subjects who might be marooned on the coast and Lee is taken on board.

The epilogue describes Lee's return to his family home in Gloucestershire and his desire to help his comrades in Spain. He finally manages to make his way through France and crosses the Pyrenees into Spain.


An insight into the origin of the title of the book is found in the second episode the BBC Four documentary series Travellers' Century presented by Benedict Allen. In the episode, which looks at As I Walked Out..., a friend of Lee reveals that the title of the book comes from a Gloucestershire folk song. The traditional song "The Banks of Sweet Primroses" starts with the line 'As I walked out one mid-summer morning'.[1]

Critical responses

Robert McFarlane[2] compares Lee's travels with those of his contemporary, Patrick Leigh Fermor. Both walked across a Europe in political turmoil. McFarlane praises Lee's powerful use of metaphor and notes that the 'rose-tinted' descriptions of Cider with Rosie are replaced here by 'very dark passages'. Sex with several partners is described 'euphemistically'. 'Life on the road' is another key theme; 'As I Walked Out' is all about movement, where Cider with Rosie was about staying in one place.

Michael Kerr[3] says that Lee was 'hungry for experience, and often just hungry'. BBC Radio Four presented Lee's work as their Book of the week in his centenary year, 2014.


  1. ^ 'The Banks of Sweet Primroses' lyrics on Archived 3 April 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ Robert McFarlane, book review, The Guardian, 20/6/2014
  3. ^ 'Michael Kerr's Top Ten Travel Books', Daily Telegraph, October 2011
  • As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning, Penguin Books (1971) ISBN 0140033181

External links

1969 in literature

This article presents lists of the literary events and publications in 1969.

A Moment of War

A Moment of War (1991) by author Laurie Lee is the last book of his semi-autobiographical trilogy. It covers his time as a combatant in the Spanish Civil War from 1937–38. The preceding books of the trilogy are Cider With Rosie (1959) and As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning (1969).

The book describes how, in December 1937, Lee set out for Spain to fight for the Republican cause. He could not persuade anyone to help him and so eventually crossed the Pyrenees alone in a snowstorm. After encountering Republican sympathisers, he was suspected of being a Nationalist spy and imprisoned. On the day scheduled for his execution, a fortunate encounter led to him being released and finally joining the International Brigade. The book then recounts Lee's experiences as a Republican soldier in Figueres, Valencia, Tarazona, Madrid, Teruel and Barcelona. He left Spain in February 1938.

There is some doubt about the historical accuracy of the book. Lee himself wrote that his diaries had been stolen and so he relied on memory for the eyewitness accounts.

The book is currently published by David R. Godine, Publisher.


Almuñécar (Spanish pronunciation: [almuˈɲekaɾ]) is a municipality in the Spanish Autonomous Region of Andalusia on the Costa Tropical between Nerja (Málaga) and Motril. It has a subtropical climate. Almuñécar lies in the province of Granada, and has around 27,700 citizens (2012).

Since 1975, the town has become one of the most important tourist towns in Granada province and on the Costa Tropical; it has good transport connections and a football (soccer) stadium.

Almuñécar is an important setting in Laurie Lee's account of the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning, and referred to as "Castillo" to disguise people's identities.

Almuñécar's coat of arms, which shows the turbaned heads of three Barbary pirates floating in the sea, was granted to the town by King Carlos I in 1526 for its having destroyed a Berber raiding force.

British Battalion

The British Battalion (1936–1938) was the 16th battalion of the XV International Brigade, one of the mixed brigades of the International Brigades, during the Spanish Civil War.

Cider with Rosie

Cider with Rosie is a 1959 book by Laurie Lee (published in the US as Edge of Day: Boyhood in the West of England, 1960). It is the first book of a trilogy that continues with As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning (1969) and A Moment of War (1991). It has sold over six million copies worldwide.

The novel is an account of Lee's childhood in the village of Slad, Gloucestershire, England, in the period soon after the First World War. It chronicles the traditional village life which disappeared with the advent of new developments, such as the coming of the motor car, and relates the experiences of childhood seen from many years later. The identity of Rosie was revealed years later to be Lee's distant cousin Rosalind Buckland.

Cider with Rosie (film)

Cider with Rosie is a British television film of 1998 directed by Charles Beeson, with a screenplay by John Mortimer, starring Juliet Stevenson, based on the book of the same name by Laurie Lee.

The film was made by Carlton Television for ITV and was first broadcast in Britain on 27 December 1998. It was broadcast in the US as the second episode of Series 28 of Masterpiece Theatre and was later issued as an ITV Studios DVD.


An expatriate (often shortened to expat) is a person residing in a country other than their native country. In common usage, the term often refers to professionals, skilled workers, or artists taking positions outside their home country, either independently or sent abroad by their employers, who can be companies, universities, governments, or non-governmental organisations. Effectively migrant workers, they usually earn more than they would at home, and less than local employees. However, the term 'expatriate' is also used for retirees and others who have chosen to live outside their native country. Historically, it has also referred to exiles.

Jack Picone

Jack V. Picone (born 1958) is an Australian-born documentary photographer, photojournalist, author, festival/collective founder, tutor and academic. He specialises in social-documentary photography.

Picone's coverage of war zones and social issues is internationally prominent, and over a career spanning more than three decades, his photojournalism has encompassed 10 conflicts across three continents, the global HIV/AIDS pandemic and the Nuba peoples of Sudan, Africa, among many other subjects.His work has been featured in a wide range of international publications including Time, Newsweek, The Sydney Morning Herald (SMH), The Age, Liberation, Der Spiegel, L'Express, Granta, Independent (UK) and The Observer. As of 2016, Picone's work is held at various venues including the Australian War Memorial, State Library of NSW and National Portrait Gallery of Australia, and his exhibited work has been displayed at numerous international venues, including the Australian Centre of Photography, University of Berkeley, United Nations headquarters and Visa Pour L'Image Perpignan. Picone has also authored/coauthored seven books.Among his list of honours, Picone is a three-time winner of the Picture of the Year International (POYi) award; a winner of the UNESCO Humanity Photo award, the Mother Jones/IFDP Grant for Social Documentary Photography award and the World Press Photo award; and a finalist of both the Walkley Awards and the Amnesty International Media Awards.Picone received both his Master of Visual Arts (MVA) and PhD from Griffith University, Queensland, Australia, and he was an "Artist-in-Residence" Visiting Professor of Lingnan University in Hong Kong from 2012 to 2014. As of the beginning of 2017, he is a Lecturer at Mahidol University in Thailand.

Laurie Lee

Laurence Edward Alan "Laurie" Lee, MBE (26 June 1914 – 13 May 1997) was an English poet, novelist and screenwriter, who was brought up in the small village of Slad in Gloucestershire.

His most famous work is the autobiographical trilogy Cider with Rosie (1959), As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning (1969), and A Moment of War (1991). The first volume recounts his childhood in the Slad Valley. The second deals with his leaving home for London and his first visit to Spain in 1935, and the third with his return to Spain in December 1937 to join the Republican International Brigades.

List of books featured on Book of the Week in 2014

This is a list of books which have been featured on BBC Radio 4's Book of the Week during 2014.

Long-distance trail

A long-distance trail (or long-distance footpath, track, way, greenway) is a longer recreational trail mainly through rural areas used for hiking, backpacking, cycling, horse riding or cross-country skiing. They exist on all continents except Antartica.

Many trails are marked on maps. Typically, a long-distance route will be at least 50 km (30 mi) long, but many run for several hundred miles, or longer.

Many routes are waymarked and may cross public or private land and/or follow existing rights of way. Generally, the surface is not specially prepared, and there are often rough ground and uneven areas, except in places such as converted rail tracks or popular walking routes where stone-pitching and slabs have been laid to prevent erosion. In some places, official trails will have the surface specially prepared to make the going easier.

Roy Campbell (poet)

Ignatius Royston Dunnachie Campbell – better known as Roy Campbell (2 October 1901 – 23 April 1957) – was a South African poet and satirist. He was considered by T. S. Eliot, Dylan Thomas and Edith Sitwell to have been one of the best poets of the period between the First and Second World Wars. Campbell's vocal attacks upon the Marxism and Freudianism, and support for causes such as Francisco Franco's Nationalists during the Spanish Civil War, made him a polarizing figure.

The Banks of Sweet Primroses

"The Banks of Sweet Primroses", "The Banks of the Sweet Primroses", "Sweet Primroses", "As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning", "As I Rode Out" or "Stand off, Stand Off" (Roud 586) is an English folk song. It was very popular with traditional singers in the south of England, and has been recorded by many singers and groups influenced by the folk revival that began in the 1950s.

Tobias Menzies

Hanan Tobias Simpson Menzies (born 7 March 1974) is an English stage, television and film actor. He is best known for his role as Brutus in HBO's Rome, Edmure Tully in HBO's Game of Thrones, and the dual roles of Frank and Jonathan "Black Jack" Randall in STARZ's Outlander, which earned him a Golden Globe Award nomination. Menzies will portray Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh in the third and fourth seasons of Netflix's popular original series The Crown.

Travellers' Century

Travellers' Century is a 2008 BBC Television documentary series presented by Benedict Allen that profiles the lives of three influential 20th-century British travel writers.

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