Flora Thompson, née Timms, was the eldest of six children of a stonemason and a nursemaid. She was educated at the parish school in Cottisford and left school at age 14 to work in various post offices across southern England. In 1903, she married John William Thompson, a post office clerk and telegraphist who had served in the Royal Navy, and the couple had a daughter and two sons. Flora Thompson won an essay competition in The Ladies Companion in 1911 for an essay about Jane Austen. She later began publishing extensively, writing short stories, magazine and newspaper articles. She was a dedicated self-taught naturalist and many of her nature articles were published in anthologies. Flora Thompson is best known for her semi-autobiographical trilogy of books about the rural English countryside, Lark Rise to Candleford.