The series is based on Flora Thompson's semi-autobiographical book "Lark Rise to Candleford", which was originally published as three separate books: "Lark Rise", "Over to Candleford" and "Candleford Green". The three books, which were published in 1939, '41, and '43 were literary recollections of some of the events which had occurred more than 50 years earlier, during the very end of the 19th century, when Flora [Timms] Thompson grew up in the tiny Oxfordshire hamlet of Juniper Hill ("Lark Rise"), and then at age 14 started work at a small post office in the village of Fringford ("Candleford Green"). Among others, the main character, who she modeled after herself, is referred to in the three books as "Laura Timmins," her father Albert Timms is re-named "Robert Timmins," and the postmistress she worked with, Kezia Whitton, became the jumping-off place for the character of the postmistress Dorcas Lane. Scholarly research indicates that these books were not completely autobiographical in nature, and that several of the stories found in the books had already been published independently before being re-worked by Thompson. In this TV series, Candleford and Candleford Green have been merged into one town. Flora Thompson also wrote a fourth book, "Heatherley", describing events later in her life when she ran her own post office in Grayshott, Surrey, but this book (which was published posthumously) does not feature in the TV series.
The series was parodied by Victoria Wood in 2009 for her seasonal special Mid Life Christmas. In it, the series is renamed Lark Pies to Cranchesterford and centres around the Post and Potato Office ran by the sultry Miss Finch (Wood).