John Stewart Collis was born in 1900. His father was a Dublin solicitor and Collis was educated at Rugby School and Balliol College, Oxford. In 1925 he published a biography of George Bernard Shaw and he later went on to write other biographical works and also became a pioneer of the ecological movement in Britain. During the Second World War his wife and daughters were evacuated to the United States and he worked for the Land Army as an agricultural labourer - accompanied by his beloved dog, Bindo. His memoirs and meditations on rural life, While Following the Plough (1946) and Down to Earth (1947) were first published together as The Worm Forgives the Plough in 1973, which has become a classic of nature writing.