A solid collection of 37 stories, presumably intended to accompany an earlier volume edited by the late V.S. Pritchett. Byatt has cast her net widely and well, and included such overlooked gems as Graham Greene's ""The Destructors,"" Charlotte Mew's ""A White Night,"" and H.E. Bates's amazingly rich ""The Waterfall."" Byatt's long Introduction--which might well stand as a capsule history of its subject--sensibly emphasizes ""the evocation of the concrete"" as a common feature of English (as opposed to other British Isles' or Commonwealth) short fiction, while offering superb concise assessments of classic writers like Dickens, Trollope, Hardy, and Wells. If some of her omissions (especially de la Mare, Lessing, and Angus Wilson) are hard to defend, one is grateful for her unearthing of neglected writers like Arthur Morrison, Malachi Whitaker, and (the other) Elizabeth Taylor. All in all, one of Oxford's best, and another feather in Byatt's richly decorated cap.