English Pastoral is the story of an inheritance: one that affects us all. It tells of how rural landscapes around the world have been brought close to collapse, and the age-old rhythms of work, weather, community and wild things are being lost. And yet this elegy from the Lake District fells is also a song of hope: how, guided by the past, one farmer began to salvage a tiny corner of England that was now his, doing his best to restore the life that had vanished and to leave a legacy for the future.
This is a book about what it means to have love and pride in a place, and how, against all the odds, it may still be possible to build a new pastoral: not a utopia, but somewhere decent for us all.
James Rebanks is a shepherd based in the Lake District, where his family have lived and worked for over six hundred years. His No.1 bestselling debut, The Shepherd’s Life, won the Lake District Book of the Year, was shortlisted for the Wainwright and Ondaatje prizes, and has been translated into sixteen languages. His second book, English Pastoral, was also a Top Ten bestseller and was named the Sunday Times Nature Book of the Year. Heralded as a ‘masterpiece’ by the New Statesman, it was longlisted for the Ondaatje prize, and longlisted for the Rathbones Folio prize and the Orwell Prize for Political Writing.
James Rebanks photo credit: Stuart Simpson