Rural Rides

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Rural Rides
Cover of the 2001 Penguin Classics edition
AuthorWilliam Cobbett
CountryGreat Britain
PublisherThe Political Register
Publication date
1822 to 1826
Published in English
1830 in 2 volumes.

Rural Rides is the book for which the English journalist, agriculturist and political reformer William Cobbett is best known.

At the time of writing in the early 1820s, Cobbett was a radical anti-Corn Law campaigner, newly returned to England from a spell of self-imposed political exile in the United States.

Cobbett disapproved of proposals for remedies for agricultural distress suggested in Parliament in 1821. He made up his mind to see rural conditions for himself, and to "enforce by actual observation of rural conditions" the statements he had made in answer to the arguments of the landlords before the Parliamentary Agricultural Committee.

He embarked on a series of journeys by horseback through the countryside of Southeast England and the English Midlands. He wrote down what he saw from the points of view both of a farmer and a social reformer. The result documents the early 19th-century countryside and its people as well as giving free vent to Cobbett's opinions.

He first published his observations in serial form in the Political Register, running from 1822 to 1826. They were first published in book form in two volumes in 1830.


Rural Rides in the Southern, Western and Eastern Counties of England; edited by G. D. H. and Margaret Cole; Vol. 1. London: Peter Davies, 1930; title page
  • Penguin Classics; new edition (27 Sep 2001) ISBN 0-14-043579-4. Introduction and notes by Ian Dyck.
  • Constable; abridged hardcover edition (Sep 1982) ISBN 0-09-464060-2. Introduction by E. R. Chamberlain.
  • J. M. Dent & Sons; Everyman's Library (1912), reprinted 1924 and 1953, ASIN B00085HPA0. Introduction by Edward Thomas.
  • Rural Rides in the Counties of Surrey, Kent, Sussex, Hampshire.... Original publication by Cobbett, 1830 and 1853.

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