This is the first ever general history of nineteenth-century English rural workers. Reay provides a fresh perspective on England's rural past, reintroducing those often excluded from more traditional historical approaches, and stressing the diversity of working communities and the dynamism of rural life. Reay challenges stereotypes of rural England, arguing that the extent of localization is so compelling that it forces a rethinking of a unitary "rural England."
'This is an encompassing and impressive survey of "rural England". On everything that he deals with, Barry Reay is professionally well-informed and his touch and erudition are highly reliable.' - Keith Snell, Centre for English Local History, University of Leicester '[Barry Reay] is especially good at demonstrating the fecund imagination of the rural commons, apparent in its remarkable musical tradition (often crude and lewd), bizarre pastimes and elaborate sporting pursuits.' - BBC History Magazine 'This valuable book stimulates research, and underlines the potential for further local and regional enquiry.' - Dick Hunter, Family& Community History