Ask the Fellows Who Cut the Hay Hardcover – 25 Mar 2010
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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.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.
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.
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Haven't read it as yet but have scanned the David Gentleman illustrations which have given me great pleasure .Published 3 months ago by Margaret Ann Jackson
Lost world. A valuable collection of oral history about farming.Published 15 months ago by Susan J. Webber
My idea of a horrendous lifestyle would be to live on a farm so lord knows why I read this book.
I always have wondered what my chances would be if I was thrown on the land to... Read more
This excellently produced book of writings by one of the finest observers of rural life is always a great delight to read.Published on 29 Nov. 2013 by Peter Wenban
This a charming book well written and presented. It was despatched promptly and was received soon afterwards. It would make a nice presentPublished on 18 Sept. 2013 by andrew monro
My husband read this book at the Ipswich record office and asked for a copy of it because he liked its practical/self-sufficiency information. Read morePublished on 15 Feb. 2012 by bretbrit
This book was bought as a present for my grandmother who grew up in the area written about.
She loves it, and it is beautifully decorated throughout with prints from the local... Read more
Perhaps this book was hyped up too much to me; a friend kept urging me to read it, so I finally got a copy. Read morePublished on 9 Aug. 2011 by Peasant