This book contains original material that was written during the period between the early 1860s and 1888. It is part autobiography and part diary, and tells the story of James Nye, an extraordinary man, who lived much of his life in a nineteenth century rural village, near Lewes.

His life story was discovered in latter days by a fellow musician, Vic Gammon, who brought his words to print in 1981 and wrote the introduction to this book. The narrative describes James’s diverse career, ranging from his work as a village musician, composer, instrument maker, agricultural labourer and quarry worker to his later work as a gardener in Ashcombe House, near Lewes. He was a deeply religious man, being a self-educated Calvinist and his writings reflect his spiritual journey and belief in social justice for the poor and dispossessed.

Nye’s poetry, which is included in the book, provides a vivid testament to a world very different to that of today, and is especially vivid in his descriptions of life in the Sussex locality.

Team: John Barrow (photography), Mary Ferriter Boakes, Colin Brent, Marion Devoy, Sheila and Vic Gammon, Alun Howkins, William Lamont, John Lowerson, Eve Ross, Eileen and Stephen Yeo

Out of print