It has been an amazing experience to be a part of the writing lives project and I really feel like I have left my mark upon working-class history. From the get-go, I have been so fascinated with the life of Mrs Yates and I wanted to learn everything I could about her life to help me in my blog writing. I feel like I have definitely achieved this through the extensive research I have carried out on nineteenth-century working-class life.
The memoir initially stood out to me as it was presented in interview format. The fact that it was also broadcasted on Granada TV made it all the more exciting! Being a born and bred northerner myself, the northern feel of the interview resonated with me and also made understanding Mrs Yates’ colloquial lexis much easier. Unfortunately, after numerous emails to ITV, I have not been able to find the archived interview which is slightly disappointing as I would have loved to hear her voice for myself. Fortunately, we still get a taste of her bubbly personality through this transcribed interview.
I have particularly enjoyed engaging with Mrs Yates’s hometown of lower Darwen through the website Cotton Town which is run by Blackburn Central Library. It has allowed me to delve further into the environment Mrs Yates grew up in which has made me feel much more connected to my author.
Blogging has been very enjoyable; it takes the pressure off writing academically and allows a friendlier tone to register within my writing, I will admit that it was a struggle at first but after a couple of blog posts I was really enjoying the different style of writing. I will happily say that I am proud of the research that has gone into my writing which has allowed me to historically contextualise Mrs Yates’ memoir and therefore enabled me to make the blog even more engaging for readers. I set out to upload one blog per week whilst simultaneously tweeting quotes from the memoirs to attract Twitter users. I believe this allowed me to reach a wider audience on social media.
Until this module, I did not realise the impact of social media and its ability to reach historians and teachers all over the country who have similar interests in working-class life. Alongside my social media engagement with other students on the module I have also had lots of help from other Twitter users who have pointed me in the right direction for research. From retweets from the Brunel Library to likes from Dr’s of history and comments from historians, the social media side of this project has been the most enjoyable for me.
Fortunately me and my module tutor managed to track down Mrs Yates on Ancestry after weeks of research which allowed me to delve further into her life and family. To see where Mrs Yates lived and who with brought the memoir to life and enabled me to connect the facts to her writing. I intended to take my research further by contacting members on Ancestry who has Mrs Yates in their trees. However, none of them was related to her which was disappointing.
I feel very proud of the work I have produced, and I am very grateful that my blog will be up there for all to see as my mark upon working-class history and testimony to the life of the great Mrs Yates.