"The Wheelwright's Shop" Audiobook
The Wheelwright’s Shop Audiobook
By George Sturt, 1923
Read by Ray Deftereos
Rural England in the latter half of the 19th century was a landscape undergoing gradual change. The work of farming continued as always; the lowing of milk cows, the ring of the village blacksmith’s hammer, and the creak of the wagon on the lane had been unchanged for generations. Industrialization had gained a foothold in the cities, and would continue its advance, both economically and geographically, without end. But the old ways were still holding on in the country, where skilled makers produced most everything a community needed.
The Wheelwright’s Shop lucidly transports us back to that time. First published in 1923, it encompasses the years of 1884 through 1891 in the life of George Sturt, wheelwright. Sturt owned a shop in Farnham and was a keen observer of daily village life, as well as a skilled craftsman. When released, his book won immediate acclaim, with The Times Literary Supplement observing, “The book is a notable accomplishment in several ways. It shows in the author a combination of the gifts of a handicraftsman, the actual maker of things, with the powers of a writer, in a way not common in English literature.” In the century since, The Wheelwright’s Shop has gained the deserved status of a classic.
George Sturt’s descriptions of the practices of the woodworker of those days are remarkable for their clarity and detail. This degree of insight is only possible from one whose life is immersed in the practices described, but who does not take his readers’ knowledge of his trade for granted. Sturt’s vivid imagery invites us to his frosty shop on a winter’s morning, and into the sunny woods filled with birdsong when the time comes to select timber. His recounting of the process of ripping planks with a pitsaw, or the considerations of riving and cleaving fresh timbers and stacking them to dry, or the knowledge of joining shaped pieces of wood together to maximize strength and durability, are unequaled in literature.
This is a timelessly important and enjoyable book. Sturt had a wonderful sense of humor and an understanding of human nature, and his penetrating observations into the value of craft and the delight he found in work well-done can enlighten us today. His writing contains a poignancy at times, as he saw the way of life he knew and loved slipping slowly away. But he maintained a youthful idealism to the end, and his words are both personal and inspiring.
We’ve commissioned Ray Deftereos, host of the “Hand Tool Book Review” podcast, for the reading of this audiobook. It is a delightful listen for your workshop or commute.
Runtime: 340 minutes.
Upon completion of purchase, you will receive a link to download your audiobook. Files are shared in mp3 format, and can easily be played on most devices.Download a sample chapter here.