The Bettesworth Book: Talks with a Surrey Peasant by George Sturt
In 1901, George Sturt (using the pen-name George Bourne) published this biography of his gardener, Frederick Bettesworth. This unusual ethnographic account, written in a modified dialect, uniquely captures rural life in late nineteenth-century England. The book bridges the class divide between 'master and man' as Sturt, through many interviews, gets to know his down-to-earth day labourer, and comes to understand peasant life and poverty as seen through the eyes of Bettesworth. In the introduction, Sturt precisely lays out his interviewing methodology, which allows the reader to understand both men as the conversations, and the book, progress. Through 35 chapters, he opens a window on the social relationships between the classes amid descriptions of the work, childhood, education, and family life of the region's agricultural workers. Sturt is humbled and enriched by his friendship with Bettesworth, calling him the 'voice of Britain', a man 'rugged, unresting, irresistible'.