Rural: The Lives of the Working Class Countryside

By Rebecca Smith

‘Revelatory’ THE SCOTSMAN

‘Eye-opening and persuasive’ SUNDAY TIMES

‘Brilliant … I loved it’ KIT DE WAAL

‘Thoughtful, moving, honest’ CAL FLYN

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.

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.

Living in rural areas means being surrounded by natural beauty, but for many it also demands hard work, precarity, fewer opportunities and – increasingly – being pushed out of the place your family might have called home for generations. In Rural, Rebecca Smith brings together the reasons we all love nature with the histories of life in its midst, and a prescient look at the dynamics for rural areas today. Why are our farmers struggling to make a profit on a pint of milk? What has Airbnb done to small communities in places like the Lake District?

In a gorgeous tour of Scotland, England and Wales, this is a book for anyone who loves and longs for the countryside, whose family owes something to a bygone trade, or who is interested in the future of rural Britain.

Format: Hardback
Release Date: 08 Jun 2023
Pages: 256
ISBN: 978-0-00-852627-6
Rebecca Smith worked for BBC Radio for over a decade, producing live and pre-recorded programmes. She now works for the BBC Radio 4 Readings Team, researching titles for Book of the Week and The Fiction Serial. She also reviews for The List, and BBC Radio Scotland’s The Afternoon Show. In 2021, she was shortlisted for the Scottish Book Trust’s Ignite Fellowship.

‘[An] intelligent, multifaceted exploration of working-class life in the British countryside’Independent -

‘Smith beautifully stitches together the beauty, tragedy and comedy that underpins rural communities today making her book a fascinating history lesson’The Scotsman -

‘The politics of land ownership and rural economics are complex and Smith deserves credit for grappling with some of this territory within an accessible and thought-provoking narrative. There’s much to enjoy in Rural’The Herald -

‘Smith is uniquely positioned to harvest the stories of rural and ex-rural working-class communities and turn them into something approaching magic. Rural ascends to beauty because it manages something more than simple reportage … This book is tender, glowing, vitally important stories whispered into an ear’Kirstin Innes, Press and Journal -

‘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 -

‘A wonderful book, beautifully conceived … So immediate and clearly seen, so gracefully and gently written … It is such a valuable thing’Adam Nicolson, author of Life Between the Tides -

‘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 -

‘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 vital, questing book about the often misunderstood past, hard present-day, and possible futures of rural life in the UK’Dan Richards, author of Outpost -