Letitia Simpson (B.1926): Biography

Born c.1926. Parents ran an old pub in Paddington, London, fairly near to Paddington Green and Edgware Road. Street market outside.

Father was a publican and also a bookmaker. Describes his final illness.

Mother’s early life.

Mother kept license for Pub. Describes girls who looked after her. Family dogs. Walks around London ie. Hyde Park, Speaker’s Corner, Regent’s Park. Wounded ex-servicemen begging.

Schoolday’s – May-Day, Empire Day. Dancing lessons. Friendships and quarrels with other children. Writer was May Queen of Paddington 1935. Trips, ie. to Bognor Regis; Ireland. Staff in pub, pub life ie. British Legion luncheon; mother also sold pub food. Staff, customers. Thefts from writer’s mother. Rat infestation. Illnesses.

Family Members.

Outbreak of WW2.

Writer evacuated to Cornwall. Unhappy there, came back to London, started working in mother’s pub aged 13.

Description of working in the pub. The austerity of life in London. Memories of Dunkirk. Air-raids. Home Front. Social life in wartime. Volunteered as red-cross nurse.

Lived over pub until war years, when they rented a small house on Paddington Green without electricity or water.

Mother lost tenancy of pub. Writer found other work – In a restaurant; a record shop; in a fashion house; department store; and in orthopaedic appliance makers. Describes how appliances were made.

Shock of Churchill losing post war election. Trip to Switzerland. Seaside Holidays. Night school. Do-it-yourself home improvements. Coach trip to Southend-on-Sea. Public Baths.

Her mother died of cancer. Describes treatment and hospitals.

Available from: Simpson, Letitia, My Day Before Yesterday. Burnett Archive of Working Class Autobiographies, University of Brunel Library, Special Collection Library, vol. 4

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