Robert Ward (B. 1907): Researching Writing Lives

First Paragraph of Robert Ward’s Memoir, ‘A Lancashire Childhood’

Wow, I can’t believe my ‘Writing Lives’ journey has come to an end. I have truly loved every minute of it. Although it has been a long process, with some very sore fingers from typing, overall, it has been a very rewarding experience!

Before we go into detail about my personal experience on this course, let’s think back to the very first session we had when we were introduced to ‘Burnett’s Collection of Working-Class Autobiographies’. We were given the task of going through the collection, reading up about some of the authors, and choosing our favourite one to be the focus of our blog posts. Being the indecisive person that I am, I found this very daunting! There were so many authors that I loved the sound of, so it was difficult to choose just one. Just an example of how indecisive I really am, I originally had chosen a different memoir and began to do some research on the author, however, I went through the list again and was automatically drawn to Robert Ward. The reason I was drawn to Robert is rather a random one, so please bear with me. The day before I decided to change my author, I had been speaking to my friend who told me their parents are moving to Littleborough, which is somewhere I had never heard of before; the next day when I was searching through the list of authors, I noticed that Robert Ward went to Littleborough Central School, which caught my eyes immediately. As Littleborough was not a known place to me, seeing/hearing the name twice in two day was rather incredible. I took it as a sign that Robert Ward was the author for me!

Taking part in a collaborative research project has been a very enjoyable experience. When you go onto the ‘posts’ page of WordPress, you can see all the posts everyone on the site has posted, which I found so interesting to look at. Reading through other people’s posts is so intriguing as you get to see how everyone has their own style of writing and approach. It is fascinating to see how, although we were all given the same task, everyone has put their own spin on it.

As my memoir was only based around Robert Ward’s childhood, I did feel quite limited at times when it came to content. When I was writing the ‘Life and Labour’ post, I had copious amounts to write in regard to Robert’s mother and father’s working life, but because we don’t get to learn about Robert’s adult life, there were gaps in information. For the same reason, a theme that I found particularly challenging to write about was Purpose and Audience. Robert gave no indication or hints in his memoir as to why he wrote it or who it was for. This meant I had to really analyse what he did write about and draw my own conclusions and theories. Although this was one of the more challenging blog posts, I did thoroughly enjoy it; I had to put myself in Robert’s perspective and ask myself why I would want to write this memoir.

Through this module, I have learnt to really take account of every piece of information that I am given. In aspects of Robert’s memoir, due to lack of punctuation, it is easy to misread what he was trying to say. Due to this, I made sure I was thoroughly reading, and then re-reading, exactly what he has wrote. I have always ensured that I am being attentive and thorough with my work, but this course has helped me to develop this even further.

A reason people write memoirs and autobiographies is so that their experiences and memories are put to paper, and essentially, live forever. I feel rather touched that I am able to further help Robert Ward not be forgotten; through my blog posts all about his childhood, and even my theories as to what direction his life went it, his memory is living on, and that is quite a touching thing.

I had previously undergone a module called ‘Prison Voices’ in my first year of university, in which I had to create a whole blog site. The skills I learnt doing this really helped me during my time with ‘Writing Lives’. If I had not had some experience using WordPress prior to this, I think I would have felt quite overwhelmed. The website is not too complicated and once you know what you’re doing it is very easy, however, as this is a joint access page, the content and order of things is constantly changing; this aspect of WordPress I did find quite confusing, but I got the hang of it in the end!

Participating in ‘Writing Lives’ has been such a pleasure and I am so happy I chose to be apart of it. As aforementioned, I have done some blogging prior to this but I have enjoyed doing it this time round a whole lot more! The information I have learnt about Robert Ward is something that I will truly never forget, and his memories and stories will live on forever with me.

Bibliography:

Primary Sources:

Ward, Robert. ‘A Lancashire Childhood’. Burnett Archive of Working Class Autobiographies. Special Collections. 2:0797.

Images:

Image 1 – The First Paragraph of Robert Ward’s Memoir, ‘A Lancashire Childhood’.

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