Pastoral Song

James Rebanks

Pastoral Song



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Pastoral Song: A Farmer’s Journey is the autobiographical story of James Rebanks’ life. Coming from a farming family, and growing up in close contact with nature, Rebanks is able to really appreciate the Earth’s bounty and beauty, and acknowledges the constant toil involved in working the land. While fondly remembering his childhood days, Rebanks proposes his own hypothetical vision of a better, and perhaps somewhat utopian future, in which humans can make the best of what nature offers, at its own pace and in its own rhythms. Working the land is still hugely challenging, but looking to the future, while celebrating our close bond with nature, could help to put humans back at the heart of farming.

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Analysis and key concepts


Farmers hold the key to the Earth’s best-kept secrets


Celebrating the past with a sense of nostalgia helps us to stay on the right track


We have to consciously choose to put our faith in progress


The future of agriculture lies in the past


What can we do to help protect nature in the immediate future?




Take-home message

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Many useful tips to:

  • Explore the huge developments in agriculture over the last century. 
  • Learn more about the challenges involved in farming. 
  • Reflect on how we can reverse the trend and get back to a simpler way of doing things.

James Rebanks is the son of a farming couple and grew up on his grandfather’s farm in England, Great Britain. His second book, Pastoral Song, is an autobiographical account of the challenges faced by three generations of his family on the farm. His first book, The Shepherd's Life, was recognised as one of the ten best books of the year by the New York Times. He still runs the family business today in the Lake District, in the north west of England.

Publishing house:

Mariner Books