Rabbit Stew and a Penny or Two : A Gypsy Family's Hard and Happy Times on the Road in the 1950s, Paperback Book

Rabbit Stew and a Penny or Two : A Gypsy Family's Hard and Happy Times on the Road in the 1950s Paperback

4 out of 5 (2 ratings)


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 child, Maggie rode and slept in a horse-drawn wagon, picked hops and flowers, and sat beside her father's campfire on ancient verges, poor but free to roam.

As the twentieth century progressed, common land was fenced off and the traditional ways disappeared.

Eventually Maggie married a house-dweller and tried to settle for bricks and mortar, but she never lost the restless spirit, the deep love of the land and the gift for storytelling that 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 loyal and loving family.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 320 pages, Integrated: 34, Int b/w photos
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Memoirs
  • ISBN: 9780349123615

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Showing 1 - 2 of 2 reviews.

Review by

A fascinating account of the life of the author, Maggie Smith-Bendell. Now an advisor to Travellers, she recounts the story of her life from when she was born in a pea-field to the present day. As well as explaining many of the customs and traditions of the Romani, she shows how lack of education marginalises people. Well worth reading.

Review by

This is a really interesting memoir about a gypsy family in 1950s England. It was quite upsetting in places as it tells of the hardships faced by the family and the ways they were discriminated against.