The Book of the Farm is a work on agricultural practices in mid-19th century England by Henry Stephens. The book was published in two volumes in 1841. This edition is from 1849.
The book follows the seasons of the farming year, starting in winter and working round to the end of autumn. It covers all aspects of farm life and contains many illustrations of machinery, implements, land and animals. The Book of the Farm quickly became accepted as a standard work on agricultural practice.
The Book of the Farm and Adam Bede
George Eliot read The Book of the Farm as part of the research for her novel Adam Bede. She took notes on Stephens’s descriptions of clouds to help her portray accurately the weather in the Midlands during the summer of 1799 (vol. 1, pp. 64–65; vol. 2, p. 304). She may also have read the sections relating to cheese and butter-making, in order to write about the Poysers’ dairy farm, and Hetty’s duties as dairy maid.
- Article by:
- Rohan Maitzen
- The novel 1832–1880
In Adam Bede, George Eliot sets out her commitment to realism as a literary genre – a commitment she would continue to develop over the course of her career. Dr Rohan Maitzen explains how detailed research and Eliot’s own experience fed into the realist project, enabling her to express her beliefs about religion, sympathy and understanding.