Education and Schooling
Throughout Mary Bradbury’s memoir My End Is My Beginning , there is only one mention of the education she received as she states that she “rushed home from school” in order to help her dad fulfil a task on the farm. It is clear that Mary is educated to some degree. She is articulate and has a developed style syntax which attracts the reader’s attention. Therefore it would be assumed that in her life she has received some form of education, but it is unclear to what standard that would have been at.
A theory which could be drawn from the memoirs however is if Mary worked at the farm rather than receiving an education at a grammar school, for example. It was common that in the 19th century children from a working-class background were employed to work on the farms.
Mary often portrays the people who came to work in the farm in great detail. This could bring the conclusion that she only could describe them in such detail due to the fact that she was working alongside them, or at least not in education and present whilst they were labouring. Mary stated that in “The middle of April” the farm would “bring out extra help”. This, along with “the second man came early in July for haytime” suggests that she was helping out on the farm at a young age and had knowledge of the work load which was required during certain periods of the year.
“I was never present when my father gelded or castrated the wether lambs”
As stated in the previous post about her family life, the relationship with her father is one which consists of admiration and love. It could be suggested that this is due to the possibility of them working closely together in the farm. Due to Mary being the only child of her parents, the relationship she had her parents will have been strong, and her working on the farm would only strengthen the bond herself and her father shared. It could be suggested that Mary’s father, with his extensive knowledge of farming and providing a good home for his family, was at the essence of her education.
“The work on a very big sheep farm when I was a child was very arduous and exacting”
The quote above is another indication that the labour she completed on the farm at an early age could have been at the expense of a traditional education which we experience in modern society. Although, as she states that the work is ‘exacting’, it could be argued that she is developing life skills whilst completing her tasks on the farm. In the Life and Struggles of William Lovett, he comments that many auto biographers were “autodidacts ”, meaning they are self-taught. This would explain Mary’s ability to possess literary skills, without the necessary presence of an education. This would make sense due to the occasional basic grammatical error, such as spelling the word that as ‘dat’.
Overall, it is interesting evaluating the education of Mary due to the little mention it receives within the memoir. I believe that she will have left school at 13 years to help her mother domestically and her father out on the farm. Mary’s focus on her adventures as a child really only draws attention to her fondest and wildest memories, resulting in a mundane experience in a classroom being left out!
Bradbury, M. My End is My Beginning, Burnett Archive 2:871 1973
Lovett, William. Life And Struggles Of William Lovett In His Pursuit Of Bread, Knowledge, And Freedom. 1st ed. New York: A.A. Knopf, 1920. Print.