Where Beards Wag All

George Ewart Evans
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ISBN 9780571244317 Format Paperback
Published 21/08/2008 Length 312 pages

About Book

From his landmark study of rural life in East Anglia, Ask the Fellows Who Cut the Hay (1956), George Ewart Evans set about, in a series of books, unveiling the sylvan round of myth and merriment, plenty and hardship, that informed the traditions and texture of country living.

Core to his chronicles is the oral tradition, echoing through the years, and it is this that he concentrates upon in Where Beards Wag All (1970). Here are the memories, unmediated and raw, of the craftsman, the drover, the marshman - a chorus to the seasons' constant turn. And it is by no means an idyll they describe: thrift and want, poverty and subjection are often their lyric. The depression of the 1930s is vividly brought to life, and a particularly affecting section details the migration of East Anglian farm-workers to the maltings of Burton-on-Trent.

Sympathetically illustrated by David Gentleman, and containing fascinating period photographs, Where Beards Wag All is a touching and faithful portrait of the countryside of fading memory.

  • About George Ewart Evans

    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.

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