Helen Rebanks

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Assistant: Amber Garvey


Helen Rebanks is a farmer, a businesswoman, a teacher, a conservationist and a working mother – and a cook.
She lives with her husband and four children in the Lake District and has been cooking and baking for more than 30 years, both professionally and in farmhouse kitchens. Her love and enthusiasm for food and farming is completely infectious, and her cooking is utterly delicious.  She and her family work as a tight-knit team that have made their farm globally important with their farming innovations. They advise internationally and host events regularly at the farm to share their expertise and encourage others to farm sustainably.

You can meet her on Instagram @theshepherdswife.


Latest publication THE FARMER'S WIFE - Faber & Faber - August 2023

Instant Sunday Times Bestseller

​A Waterstones Best Book of 2023

An Observer Food Monthly's Book of 2023

A gorgeous portrait of Helen Rebanks's Lake District life.

As dawn breaks on the farm, Helen Rebanks makes a mug of tea, relishing the few minutes of quiet before the house stirs. Within the hour the sounds of her husband, James, and their four children will fill the kitchen. There are also six sheepdogs, two ponies, 20 chickens, 50 cattle and 500 sheep to care for. Helen is a farmer's wife. Hers is a story that is rarely told, despite being one we think we know.

Weaving past and present, Helen shares the days that have shaped her. This is the truth of those days: from steering the family through the Beast from the East and the local authority planning committee, to finding the quiet strength to keep going, when supper is yet to be started, another delivery man has assumed he needs to speak to the 'man of the house', and she would rather punch a cushion than plump it.

A gorgeous, unvarnished delve into the labour and glory of keeping a home and raising a family, this memoir offers a chance to think about where our food comes from, and who puts it on the table, Helen helps us all survive with recipes, lists and gentle wisdom to help us get through our days, whatever they throw at us.



'It's quite an achievement to portray the quiet power behind the choices we make for our children - be it the food on the table or the life we choose to live. And to shine a light of truth on the often idealised, always understated, role of the farmer's wife.' Raynor Winn

‘Lifestyle magazine fodder? Not a bit of it. Helen Rebanks proves in this memoir to be a hell of a person in her own right, both in her lucid, flowing prose and in her bitingly honest – though never bitter – reflections on domesticity, family and rural realities. The Farmer’s Wife is masterly.’ Times Literary Supplement

'Very moving, real and true.' Amy Liptrot

‘Compelling. This feels like a book she has been bursting to write.  Without the Helen Rebankses of this world, everything would fall apart.’ Country Life

'Rebanks's recipe book doubles as an honest, moving and absorbing account of life on a Cumbrian farm.' Observer Food Monthly

‘Really honest.  It’s a book that joins the dots about the food system. Her voice is really powerful and she sees things so clearly from her farm and from her kitchen’ The Food Programme, BBC Sounds

‘This is an absolutely beautiful book. It is honest and true, unflinching, powerful, lyrical without being sentimental. Most of all, it is so clear in its call for us to know more about where our food comes from and also for the right of any woman to choose the life she wants to live. I read it in one sitting.’ Kate Mosse

‘A touching, raw and beautifully written book.’ Ian Cumming, Ontario Farmer

‘“Some would say mine is a small life. But this is how I want to live my life.” Wife of the (currently) more famous James, Helen is a homemaker, mother of four children, and carer to a drove of animals including 500 sheep. Complete with her farmhouse kitchen recipes, this enchanting memoir which opens at cock crow (5.30am) might sound gentler than a small ripple on nearby Ullswater. But it is an engrossing and tenacious account both of the running a home, and of the tightly knit family team which has made their farm globally important with its innovations and drive towards sustainability.’ Bookseller

The Farmer’s Wife is a lovely read about ordinary life on a farm. Helen writes brilliantly about the constant juggle: kids, meals, animals, paperwork, more meals. It’s familiar to any working parent and yet the setting is a Lake District farm in all its unvarnished reality.’ Countryfile

‘Authentic and affecting, this is a story of a hidden life. Helen’s clear voice shows us what it really means to become the bedrock, and through unhistoric acts of both struggle and joy, she shines a light on the women who stitch together the fabric of our rural communities.’ Sarah Langford

‘A testament to the strength – for better and worse – of marriage and family and community, to indoor as well as outdoor farm work.’ Tim Adams, Observer Food Monthly

‘Behind the deep delve into her day-to-day life of keeping a home, raising a family, rearing sheep, cows and dogs, Rebanks uncovers the quiet power behind the daily choices we all make; from the food on our table to the kind of life we choose to live.’ The Oldie

'Engrossing, intimate, unflinchingly honest.' Daily Mail

‘Lovely, warm and real, The Farmer’s Wife made me cry and cook and think. A beautiful book.’ Ella Risbridger

‘An exquisite love-letter to the goodness of the natural world, and to shepherding family, marriage and a farm to health and prosperity. A paean to fidelity, illustrating clearly why simple, hard work in the home and in the pastures is so damn rewarding.’ Nick Offerman

The Farmer’s Wife is a special book. It stands up for itself and it is a treat in its own right. Before coming to visit the Rebankses, I spotted an acknowledgment at the back of English Pastoral in which James thanks his wife for keeping the show on the road, doing, “all the mundane stuff that no one celebrates”. Her book includes that mundane stuff, and what is against-the-odds wonderful is that she makes the ordinary sympathetic, relatable and even gripping.’ Observer

‘With this enchanting, funny, fearless book, Rebanks brings her own ‘unhistoric’ life unequivocally out of hiding… there is not a superfluous word in Rebanks’s narrative… This is a luminously beautiful memoir.’ Juliet Nicholson, Spectator

'In this honest and tender memoir, Helen invites us into her life and home with rare openness and warmth – inside, we find a loving place, sometimes conflicted, often chaotic, and always buzzing with life.' Helen Jukes, author of A Honeybee Heart Has Five Openings

‘Though ingratiating, this is no rose-colored account … this frank, good-natured debut memoir with recipes … Black and white pen illustrations enhance the charm. Home cooks and aspiring farmers will be captivated by this lively and accessible look at life on the farm.’ Publishers Weekly