To Anita Hughes, school was an important factor in her childhood. School is mentioned in the first page of her autobiography. She talks about her time at Farington School for a few paragraphs. During her lessons at school she was placed with her sister as the school but separated from her brothers: “boys classes were down one side…girls along the other” (2). Her early time in school was enjoyable, but she does mention it was very strict: “The Head Master…was terribly strict and used the cane a lot” (2). Outside of her school Hughes does not often mention education. Once out of school she spent much time with her family: “they have some good laughs – they were always up to some tricks” (2).
Anita had to leave school at twelve years old. This was a huge loss to her: “I shed many tears at having to leave school” (4). The end of education too soon was a reality for working class children, and some people believed it was a good thing; education was for the higher classes who would not end up working in a factory: “It was better for working people to be without education” (Gomersall, 50). Some of her activities later in life suggest a craving for learning: “I loved looking round the museum and Library” (7).
But Anita continued to have some link to education by attending Sunday school, it was at a Sunday school dance where she met her husband Frank. During her courtship with Frank, Anita started teaching at Sunday school. After the First World War married women were not allowed to teach in state schools. But Anita continued teaching at the Sunday School during her marriage: “continued my Sunday School Teaching there” at St Mary’s Church (10).
- Gomersall, Meg. Working Class girls in 19th Century England: Life, Work andSchooling. Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1997.
- Hughes, Anita Elizabeth. “My autobiography” 1.357 on your author in The Autobiography of the Working Class: An Annotated, Critical Bibliography, ed. by John Burnett, David Vincent and David Mayall (Brighton: Harvester, 1984, 1897, 1989) 3 vols.
- Image taken from a website dedicated to showing historical photos – http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/779606