We rarely hear the past voices of the rural poor - the labourers dependent on casual employment, the workhouse inmates, the dispossessed. This book lets them tell their own story. It is often a story of bitterness and resentment, and one that bursts occasionally into outright rebellion. To many who occupied the early-Victorian countryside, injustice seemed part of the landscape. Robert Lee draws on a remarkable set of historical sources from Norfolk which show how the experience of poverty could lead people into social transgression and political resistance. Using dramatisations of contemporary accounts he presents a series of disturbing true stories, and goes on to assess what each one can tell us about the reality of nineteenth-century rural society. Insurrection, riot, execution, witchcraft, seduction - Unquiet Country visits the dark side of the Age of Improvement. Two centuries earlier the cry had gone out that 'the poorest he that is in England hath a life to live as the greatest he'. Thomas Rainsborough's radical fire may not have caught at the time, but it lived on, even in a polarised world of baronial halls, disease-ridden hovels and New Poor Law workhouses.
This book uncovers its glowing embers.