Rabbit Stew and a Penny or Two: A Gypsy Family's Hard Times and Happy Times on the Road in the 1950s
Born on a Somerset pea-field in 1941, the second of eight children in a Romani family, Maggie Smith-Bendell has lived through the years of greatest change in the travelling community's long history. As a young child, Maggie slept and rode in a horse-drawn wagon, picked flowers and hops, and sat beside her father's campfire on ancient verges, poor but absolve to roam. As the twentieth century progressed, common land was fenced off and the traditional Gypsy ways disappeared. Eventually Maggie married a house-dweller and tried to stay for bricks and mortar, but she never lost the restless spirit, the deep love of the land and the present for storytelling which were her Romani inheritance.
Maggie's story is one of hardship and prejudice, but also, unforgettably, it recalls the glories of the travelling life in the absolute safety of a loving and loyal family.