Over the Bridge, the first volume of Richard Church's personal essays, originally published in 1955, takes the reader through the poet's Edwardian childhood adventures. With his detailed descriptions and insightful observations Church paints an idyllic image of his early years passed in the safety of the close-knit lower middle-class home where his loving, hard working parents did all they could to protect their sons from the harsh reality of Britain at the end of the Victorian era. He ponders with humour the disappointments of his first school endeavours; his academic failure made him feel an outcast until it was discovered that not a poor intellectual capacity but rather the child's poor eyesight was to blame for his lack of concentration and understanding of his school subjects. And finally Church takes us through his teenage years, which began happily with a promise of undisturbed literary and artistic pursuits at Camberwell Art School but were soon tainted with worry over the diminishing health of their beloved mother Â? the pillar of the Church family.
Over the Bridge is not only a touching portrait of Church's childhood self but also an intriguing and detailed picture of the social and economic realities of the Edwardian era. In 1955 Over the Bridge was awarded the Sunday Times Prize for Literature.