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In 1933, influenced by the books of Charles Dickens and George Eliot borrowed from the public library, Fred Kitchen started writing about his experiences as a farm labourer. He was studying at the Workers Educational Association where his jottings became Brother to the Ox, this classic memoir of farming which does not romanticise the countryside. Fred's story in Brother to the Ox begins in childhood, at West Riding, South Yorkshire, where he explored the woods and fields owned by the nobleman who employed his father for seventeen shillings a week. It was a place where the sun rose and set and little else disturbed the day's still waters.
But his journey away from this idyll began abruptly on his thirteenth birthday, after his father died, when the young Fred started working as a 'day-lad' and then a horseman to support his family. His search for work through the fields, cowyards and colliers of Northern England is an honest and unforgettable account of life during the first half of the twentieth century, when locomotives first billowed coal smoke, while the First World War tore Europe apart, and as people left the land to work in the industrialised towns and cities.