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, frequently, 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.
Dr. Robert Lee is a Research Fellow at the University of Teesside, specialising in nineteenth century regional history. He has researched and written extensively on the subject, with particular reference to East Anglia and the North-East England, and has taught at a number of Higher Education institutions. Born and brought up in Norfolk, Dr. Lee now lives with his young family in Weardale, Co. Durham.
Preface: Hearing Voices. Introduction: Seeing Signs. 'Seems we have a revolution on our hands'. Lady Catherine and the arch-fiend. Countdown to riot. The Strange Case of Elizabeth Rudd's baby. The Banningham witchcraft letters. Rabbits, rights and radicals. Finding Patterns. Appendices: Primary Sources. Select Bibliography. Index.