Introducing Edna Bold (1904 – 1987)
Upon first reading the memoir of Edna Bold, my first impression is that she is had a good sense of humour. The foreword which she includes at the beginning of the memoir firstly states who she dedicates the memoir to, introducing a personal theme. Edna then continues to explain the reasons for why the readers of it may or may not find the anecdotes too long or too short. This is also one of the reasons why I chose the life of Edna Bold. I favoured the tone and style that she adopts from the very start of her memoir.
Although Edna’s memoir is of an ordinary life for a woman born in the beginning of the twentieth century, it is also an amazing, highly entertaining life, with many difficulties and positive experiences. Ranging from her struggles with childhood and her family, to being alive when the First World War commenced, being highly educated and becoming a teacher, and her experience of popular music and youth culture from the 1960’s.
Edna Mosley was born on 12th February 1904 in the Beswick district of Manchester. It is apparent that Edna was a part of the middle class in Manchester. She states ‘our young maid… Hannah’ (page 4) when only the relatively well off had a maid at this time in the early 20th century. Edna’s father was a baker and confectioner, whilst her Mother was formerly a weaver. It is evident that Edna’s parents triumphed over a business crisis, although it was at the cost of their health. As a result, the family was cared and looked after by a stern aunt for many years, ‘my red-haired, fiery-tempered, Aunt Maggie’ (page 18). Although not an ideal living situation, it allowed Edna to get closer to her young cousin, Dorothy.
Edna had a large family, which was common in both the 19th and 20th centuries. She had a twin brother called Stanley. She also had three brothers (one of whom died in infancy) and two sisters. Although her opinions on her siblings are ambivalent, it is clear that she felt a lot closer to her cousin Dorothy rather than her twin brother: ‘my twin brother and I knew we were different… we had no interest, no curiosity and paid little attention to the phenomenon’ (page 20). Throughout most of the memoir, she forgets to mention many of her family members, which she apologises for at the conclusion of the memoir.
Edna was educated at state school; secondary school; Church of England Teacher Training College; Sunday school and Art School (part-time). She became a schoolteacher after many years of education. Eventually, she married John Bold in 1946, with no children. After marriage, John Bold became ‘a member of the Manchester Academy of Fine Arts, a member of the Modern Painters of the Royal Cambrian Academy. He was also invited to join the Manchester Group founded by Margo Ingham and the Lancashire Group established by Colin Hilton.’ (Page 122). Edna then moved to Cranley, Surrey, and died in 1987.
She had a love of the English countryside, and qualified for the Imperial Society of Teacher’s Certificate of Dancing. Also, she attended Courses in Transcendental Meditation, where she dedicates a number of her chapters to her mentor and what he achieved from it.
Written in 1978, the author provides full details of her childhood and schooling though writes only briefly of her life after qualifying as a teacher. Topics mentioned include the bake house; street games; domestic rituals; family details and ancestry; dress; sex education; street entertainers; friendships; the Ancoats Brotherhood; profile of L.S. Lowry; popular music and youth culture in the 1960’s. She includes notes about L.S. Lowry as she grew up not far from him, and most probably believed they had many things in common, such as their hometowns and family status. Her inclusion of 1960’s popular music proves to be very interesting as she links her Transcendental Meditation chapters with it, due to her having a close encounter with The Beatles as a result of them taking an interest in her Meditation mentor.
Bold, Edna. ‘The long and short of it. Being the recollections and reminiscences of Edna Bold’, Burnett Archive of Working Class Autobiographies, University of Brunel Library, Special Collection, 2:85, available at https://bura.brunel.ac.uk/handle/2438/9420
NB: all pictures and images have links of their source.