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The Lives of the Working Class Countryside

Rebecca Smith author


Publisher:HarperCollins Publishers

Published:6th Jun '24

Should be back in stock very soon

This paperback is available in another edition too:

Rural cover

The Lives of the Working Class Countryside: ‘Thoughtful, moving, honest’ - Cal Flyn


‘Eye-opening and persuasive’ SUNDAY TIMES

‘Brilliant … I loved it’ KIT DE WAAL

‘Thoughtful, moving, honest’ CAL FLYN


‘Eye-opening and persuasive’ SUNDAY TIMES

‘Brilliant … I loved it’ KIT DE WAAL

‘Thoughtful, moving, honest’ CAL FLYN

*Winner of The Lakeland Book of the Year 2024*

Work in the countryside ties you, soul and salary, to the land. But often those who labour in nature have the least control over what happens there.

Why have our rural industries been replaced by tourism? Why can't people stay living in the places they grew up? In this beautifully observed book, Rebecca Smith traces the stories of foresters and millworkers, miners, builders, farmers and pub owners, to paint a picture of the working class lives that often go overlooked. This is a book for anyone who loves and longs for the countryside.

‘Eye-opening and persuasive… effective and affecting. Smith is trying to understand what it means to work on the land but not own it'

Sunday Times

'How we manage people’s competing claims to ownership of places is one of the great questions for the world in the 21st century. As Rural shows, the British countryside is a good example of how not to do it'

The Observer

‘A brilliant book about another side of working-class life, not a tower block in sight. Clever and honest, tackling slavery, loss and aspiration with humour and candour. I loved it’

Kit de Waal, author of My Name is Leon

‘Intelligent, multifaceted… revealing parts of society that are too often simply forgotten'


‘A thoughtful, moving, honest book that questions what it means to belong to a place when it can never belong to you … Timely and illuminating’

Cal Flyn, author of Islands of Abandonment

‘An educational and moving read that I believe no matter where you fit in society, you can enjoy … a fascinating history lesson’


Rural sets out to identify some of the huge and near-invisible changes to rural life… should be considered by anyone with an interest in the future of the British countryside'

Country Life

Rural tenderly reveals the precarious lives that underpin the beauty and the wealth of our countryside. Essential reading for lovers of the land and its people’

Katherine May, author of Wintering

‘A love letter to life in the countryside and a distinctive rural working-class identity. As Smith and countless others attest, rural life may be challenging, but it’s a lifestyle worth defending.’


ISBN: 9780008526313

Dimensions: 198mm x 129mm x 30mm

Weight: 220g

256 pages