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Keith Rylands-Bolton

As a teenager, Keith Rylands-Bolton represented his home county of Lincolnshire at football and athletics, eventually becoming the Anglian sprinting champion in his final year of school. A fan of rock and folk-rock music, in the early 70s he played in a band, Curiosity Morgue, which performed in the Boston area and at colleges and universities. He read English, Philosophy and Drama at the universities of Middlesex, Lancaster and Bishop Grosseteste, Lincoln. During his teaching career, he was Head of Special Needs and Professional Tutor at a comprehensive school, later becoming Head of Drama. In his spare time, Keith acted in and directed many productions at the Broadbent Theatre, Wickenby (named after Jim Broadbent’s father, a founding member). He also played football for Market Rasen in the Lincolnshire League. Nowadays, he walks and cycles in the Lincolnshire Wolds, belongs to a book group, carries out voluntary work for the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust and the village community shop and supports Lincoln City F.C. as a season ticket holder.

Reflecting upon his novel, ‘Trying Times for Sebastian Scattergood’, Keith writes:


‘The novel is an exploration of a particular area of England, Tennyson’s Lincolnshire, both factual and satirical. Factual, because most of the places and walks described in the novel exist; satirical, because it enjoys poking fun at the eccentricities of the life of a small community and its characters.

In this sense, the novel is a cultural tour. However, beneath the amusing surface, there are also darker elements contained within, such as the moral turpitude of the gutter press and the crippling consequences of dementia.

More specifically, the novel celebrates the poetry of Tennyson, making references to many of his famous poems e.g. ‘In Memoriam’, ‘Locksley Hall’ and the dialect poem, ‘The Northern Farmer’.

It was also a conscious decision to make Sebastian’s reading material an array of nature diaries and journals, thus reflecting his own interests and aspirations: Gilbert White’s ‘The Natural History of Selborne’; ‘Edward Thomas on the Countryside’; Roger Deakin’s ‘Notes From Walnut Tree Farm’ and Dorothy Wordsworth’s ‘Journals’.’

Keith also sees his novel as a travel guide: 

‘The Lincolnshire Wolds is an area of England not often featured in literature but now, owing to the staycation trend, it is attracting more visitors. In this sense, then, the novel becomes like a travel guide. This is further enforced by the fact that nearly all of the walks which Sebastian and Jan enjoy together or with friends are real and can be followed on OS maps or read about in various rambling publications. Similarly, many of Sebastian’s diary entries will appeal to nature lovers as they are full of detailed nature writing with a strong emphasis on wildflowers throughout the seasons.’

As for his initial inspirations, Keith writes:

‘My love of E.M Delafield’s ‘The Diary of a Provincial Lady’ certainly influenced the style. (In homage to Delafield, I use the names of the Provincial Lady’s children, Robin and Vicky, for Sebastian’s brother-in-law and wife). ‘The Diary of a Nobody’ by George and Weedon Grossmith was another influence. I suppose you could call my novel a rural version of this. (One of the care homes which Sebastian chooses for his parents is called ‘Lupins’, named after Charles Pooter’s son).

As for the subject matter, a lot is based on actual events which happened to us between the years of 2009 and 2013. We, too, had a building firm go bust on us, interminable leaks in our conservatory, a landscape gardener do a runner. Also, sadly, my mum developed dementia during this period.

One spooky fact, showing life mirroring fiction, is that my wife turned to Buddhism after the novel was written.’

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