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: ebook
Release Date: 08 Jun 2023
Pages: None
ISBN: 978-0-00-852629-0
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.

‘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' -

Independent -

‘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’ -

Scotsman -

‘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.’ -

Dazed -