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Ask the Fellows Who Cut the Hay Hardcover – 25 Mar 2010

4.7 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Full Circle Editions Ltd; New ed. edition (25 Mar. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0956186920
  • ISBN-13: 978-0956186928
  • Product Dimensions: 17 x 2.8 x 22.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 455,037 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Book Description

Ask the Fellows Who Cut the Hay by George Ewart Evans is a classic picture of the rural past in a remote Sussex village. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Born in the mining town of Abercynon, South Wales, George Ewart Evans (1909-88) was a pioneering oral historian. In 1948 he settled with his family in Blaxhall, Suffolk, and through conversing with his neighbours he developed an interest in their dialect and the aspects of rural life which they described. Many were agricultural labourers, born before the turn of the century, who had worked on farms before the arrival of mechanisation. With the assistance of a tape recorder he collected oral evidence of the dialect, rural customs, traditions and folklore throughout East Anglia, and this work, reinforced by documental research, provided the background for his renowned East Anglian books. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.


Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I think it probably helps that I grew up in the same region as the subjects of this book, but I believe it has a general appeal. Like all oral historians, Evans seeks to learn what the reality of life was like 60-70 (or more) years ago by speaking to the old people about their memories. The coastal areas of Suffolk are geographically fairly remote, and more to the point have always been off the beaten track. Consequently, the lifestyle and conditions at the time the book was written probably reflected what life was like elsewhere in the country a good while earlier. A highly recommended book.
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Format: Hardcover
For anyone who likes oral history and the English countryside, this new edition of ASK THE FELLOWS WHO CUT THE HAY is one of those very rare things: it is just about as perfect as it's possible for a book to be.

From the blurb inside the jacket:
'This classic work remains vigorous and true, an illuminating and unvarnished portrait of village life with all its harsh poverty and struggle as well as its rich knowledge and culture. As the Times Educational Supplement wrote, George Ewart Evans "gives the wholeness of the old life and the passionate pursuit of perfection that could make a craft like drawing a a straight furrow into something near an art".'

Originally published in 1956, ASK THE FELLOWS WHO CUT THE HAY is a beautifully-crafted ramble through a vanished age: blacksmiths, dairymaids, waggoners, pig-keepers and shepherds dwell side-by-side with candlemakers, ploughmen, bellringers, the parson and the squire, and the whole account centres on the life and memories of a small Suffolk village in the century prior to the Second World War. The traditions, superstitions, games and pastimes of the villagers are set against a backdrop of unending hard labour through the shifting seasons down the centuries.

The unsentimental writing is masterful, eminently readable, and now it is a joy to see this book issued in an edition that celebrates the hundredth anniversary of the author's birth. This is not nostalgia - this is social history at its best: from the mouths of those who lived it. All human life is here, and here is something for everyone.
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Format: Paperback
This book is a collection of the memories of real people who worked as haymakers or shepherds before the days of agricultural mechanisation. They're not romantic about it but they don't complain either. They just tell it the way it was. A unique insight into a former way of life.
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Format: Hardcover
Back in 1177, a clerk in the Exchequer, faced with a difficult question, replied: "Ruricolae melius hoc norunt", which translates as "Let us ask the country folk".

Eight centuries later, when Welsh writer George Ewart Evans moved to the remote Suffolk village of Bloxhall in 1948, he did just that: he began talking to the locals and recording their memories, some dating back to the mid-nineteenth century.

One was Robert Savage, who started work as a 'back'us' or kitchen boy at a large farm for wages of £1 a quarter, and was not happy with the farm breakfasts: "Warm herrings and cold pork fat didn't fare go right well together."

In this beautifully produced edition of a classic work of oral history, sympathetically illustrated by David Gentleman, we can listen to the voices of the shepherds and stone-pickers, breadmakers and bellringers, ploughmen and publicans, as they remember every aspect of rural life before mechanisation and the modern world changed it forever.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
i only read a very old paperback with few illustrations, grew up in the south wales suburbs in the nineties but found so much to like in this book. i did not find it sentimental but hugely informative. the author goes into some detail about making beer and bread,traditions and practises. written in 1956 evans creates something both vibrant and deeply rooted.
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Format: Paperback
I first heard about this author on Radio 4 and out of interest bought this book.

If you were born and raised or now live in East Anglia this is an intriguing book. George Ewart Evans had the foresight to speak to the elderly people in the village of Blaxhall and recorded their memories on paper.

It tells of the life of shepherds, farmers, fishermen and housewives. How the villagers lived and survived in very hard times.

For an insight into the lives of our ancestors this book is a must read.
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Format: Hardcover
For those of us 'over a certain age' , this book is a must. It conjures up a bygone age when life. although hard, was good and uncomplicated. You can almost smell the hay and other country smells as you read it. I am not from E. Anglia, but the book could have been written about anywhere in rural England - most certainly in Berkshire where I grew up in the 1940's - and the whole country can wallow in its nostalgia. George Ewart Evans and Daniel Gentleman are to be congratulated on putting the book together.
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By Peasant TOP 500 REVIEWER on 26 Nov. 2012
Format: Paperback
Perhaps this book was hyped up too much to me; a friend kept urging me to read it, so I finally got a copy. I found it interesting and informative, but not the ravishing transport to bygone days I'd been promised.

Coming from a family with an agricultural labouring tradition, I grew up in the tail-end of this world; the labourers of the book would have been the old codgers in the pub when I was a teenager. I recognised the truth of the picture painted, but the vibrant, claustrophobic life of the village was told in language that, for me, placed it at a distance and sanitised it. Evans fills his book with detail and anecdote, but it is all filtered through his detached oral-historian's ear.

This is the tale of rural life as told by a middle-class writer educated in the academic tradition. I was surprised to see it was published as late as 1956; it had a flavour of the pre-war years, both in style and in content. I enjoyed far more, and was in fact rivetted by, Ronald Blythe's Akenfield: Portrait of an English Village, also set in Suffolk and published only 13 years later - which I have read several times and which continues to grow on me.

This Faber edition is the one I have. Some Faber bindings have a tendency to shed their pages like autumn leaves (my first Faber copy of The White Goddess: A Historical Grammar of Poetic Myth dismantled itself with alarming rapidity) but this edition seems to be sound enough.
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