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A Shepherd's Life

W. H. Hudson

Book Overview: 

Hudson wrote this classic work and it is admiringly mentioned by many other writers. It focuses on the memories of a head shepherd, Caleb Bawcombe, so it is concerned with the period of mid to late nineteenth century rural Wiltshire, a county in England. This pleasant engaging book contains rural wisdom, natural history, farming practices, human characters, and more

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .John refused it. "Master," he said, "I be going to stay in my own native village, and if I can't make a living the parish'll have to keep I; but keep or not keep, here I be and here I be going to stay, where I were borned."

From this position the stubborn old man refused to be moved, and there at Winterbourne Bishop his master had to leave him, although not without having first made him a sufficient provision.

The way in which my old friend, Caleb Bawcombe, told the story plainly revealed his own feeling in the matter. He understood and had the keenest sympathy with old John, dead now over half a century; or rather, let us say, resting very peacefully in that green spot under the old grey tower of Winterbourne Bishop church where as a small boy he had played among the old gravestones as far back in time as the middle of the eighteenth century. B. . . Read More

Community Reviews

A look into an old way of life. The first 2 chapters were awful (long, loving descriptions of countryside - more for the benefit of the author than the reader), and the rest was wonderful. Story after story about specific shepherds, sheepdogs, cats, birds and wildlife, gamekeepers and poaching,and,

gett along, its fine see also, James Rebanks different sheep anddifferent grass

Anyone possibly about sheep and grass. Similar problems.

More tractors and other machinery. Not a lot about vets or medicine, dogs or women

I acquired a used copy during a visit to Cambridge, UK. It was listed as a "heritage" book. Hudson begins his book on the Salisbury Plain and focuses on an uninteresting village in Wiltshire (Winterbourne Bishop) that has no manor house or powerful lord. He writes down the discussions he has with an

A rather boring descriptive piece about an openly boring county, as described by the author himself. There are a handful of interesting tales about life in the 1800s but they are lost amongst the pages of dull writings about the land.
This said, his talk on birds and dogs were intriguing, but I strug

Read this as James Rebanks mentioned it a few times in his book. Interesting, just not quite what I was expecting. A good glimpse of rural life as it was though!

A lovely story, simple and gentle, nothing horrible in it but lots of nice tales. An interesting historical record to normal non industrialised country folk.

I found the first chapter hard work but once Hutson had explained his love of Wiltshire, and started telling tales of the Shepard and other cha

A little too pastoral, rustic, bucolic or all three for me.

He's not actually the Shepherd? Disappointing. Felt more like an ode to Wiltshire too, a county I love, but not this much. Did enjoy the paragraphs about the cats and the train tracks though, never be able to forget that.

I was drawn into reading this book by a favourable reference in James Rebank's The Shepherd's Life. Rebanks's wrote that reading Hudson's A Shepherd's Life by "the sudden life-changing realization it gave me that we could be in books – great books", it "turned me into a book obsessive".

It is an odd

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