Being provided with the opportunity to both learn and write about the memoir of Francis Alfred Peet has been a pleasure from the beginning. Despite having now sadly ended the module, I feel almost personally connected to Francis, and feel extremely lucky to have been able to publicly share the memoir of his life.
The memoir caught my attention initially as it stood out to me that just like myself, Francis had always lived in the same family home in which he was born. This alone was enough to intrigue and therefore persuade me that Francis was the author I wished desperately to learn a great deal more about, seeing as we already shared a specific similarity. Despite being a shorter memoir of around 11,000 words and 19 pages, the hopefulness I had for the memoir to still hold a great amount of detail was certainly not disappointed. The journey through Francis’ life was joyous and filled me with contentment to read, more specifically through the clear focus and importance in which Francis’ family impacted upon his life.
One of the most enjoyable aspects of my experience was the extensive amount of research I carried out and also the knowledge I have therefore gained regarding the lives of working-class individuals during the early 1900s. It was specifically intriguing to learn about the societal attitudes towards men un comparison to women surrounding the element of work. My author in particular made it clear that the men in his family were the main sources of income within the family, only ever describing their careers and not the women. It was interesting to read however about one of Francis’ teachers who held a knitting/sewing class specifically for the girls on late weekday evenings, in order to both gain extra income for herself, and also to help develop the skills and capabilities of the young girls in which she taught at the school. Researching deeper into the societal attitudes during the 1900s was even more interesting as it reminded me of the module, I completed a year prior to the Writing Lives module called Prison Voices. This module was an interesting comparison to the Prison Voices one as it looked as the lives of the working-class, as opposed to individuals who were caught up in a life of crime and deviance around the same time period.
I also really enjoyed the experience of having to be dedicated to keeping a blog as well as running a Twitter account alongside it, which helped to strengthen both my confidence in the field of public writing, and also my management and organization skills. The module also helped to develop the skills which I gained within the Prison Voices module, and I have particularly enjoyed being able to personally notice my growth in confidence as a result of working on the Writing Lives module this semester.
In reflection, the module has been an extremely enjoyable and liberating experience which has provided me with the chance to learn and gain a connection to an author whose life in regards to having a close-knit family and home environment had close similarities to my own. It was also a pleasant module to focus on in such strange times within modern day society regarding the pandemic, as it was different to any other of my current modules and was therefore a nice distraction. Being allowed the opportunity to share my work with other class members was extremely important as it is something which I have never really before experienced, and I feel as though it was a gratifying way to both connect with other classmates and also a good way of obtaining constructive criticism and opinions which therefore helped me to build upon my writing skills as an overall result.
551 PEET, Francis Alfred, ‘Recollections’, TS, pp.19 (c.10,000 words). Brunel University Library.
Burnett, John ed. Useful Toil: Autobiographies of Working People from the 1820s to the 1920s London: Routledge, 1994.