Ronald Blythe's 1969 book "Akenfield" - a moving portrait of English country life told in the voices of the farmers and villagers themselves - is a modern classic. In 2004, writer and reporter Craig Taylor returned to the village in Suffolk on which "Akenfield" was based. Over the course of several months, he sought out locals who had appeared in the original book to see how their lives had changed, he met newcomers to discuss their own views, and he interviewed Ronald Blythe himself, now in his eighties. Young farmers, retired orchardmen and Eastern European migrant workers talk about the nature of farming in an age of computerization and encroaching supermarkets; commuters, weekenders and retirees discuss the realities behind the rural idyll; and the local priest, teacher and more describe the daily pleasures and tribulations of village life. Together, they offer a panoramic and revealing portrait of rural English society at a time of great change.
Craig Taylor is a journalist and playwright. He writes the 'We Love Each Other' column for the Guardian and has written for McSweeney's and the New York Times Magazine. Some of his 'One Million Tiny Plays about London' have been staged at the Hampstead Theatre. Originally from Canada, he lives in London.