The very first cultural or religious acknowledgment made by Edna in her memoir is her religious background. She states many times about God, but does not specify which God. As stated in the Home and Family: Childhood Experiences blog, Edna states: ‘I love my father more than I love God’ (page 24). By making this comparison it is clear to readers that Edna has a deep connection and relationship with both her father and God, but she much prefers her father for certain reasons, despite his temper.
Edna found the matter of religion quite concerning at some stages in her life. She says, ‘Only once did I speak to him on the urgent and troublesome matter of religion. At the first opening gambit in which I questioned the existence of God, his large, grey eyes lighted with dangerous fire and shriveled my already shrinking ego to ash… Neither Marjorie nor her sister Dorothy… ever spoke of God or their father. Both were omnipotent.’ (Page 39). It is clear that she found the subject very difficult to discuss, especially with her elders who felt that their opinion was the only correct way.
The chapter title ‘Idolator’ is subtly referring to God. Edna says, ‘Neither my brothers nor my cousins had any love of the old gentleman in the sky who sat on a throne with his feet resting on cotton wool clouds… My cousins Frank alone showed any curiosity about him. He had an insatiable curiosity about the Almighty’s beard.’ (Page 48-49). Edna is stating how some of her family members believes in God and some did not. Those that did were of the very curious young children that were deeply interested in his being.
One of the more prominent parts of Edna’s memoir is when she states, ‘I left the establishment, never to return, ready to obliterate the unpleasant incidence of ‘Sunday School’ from my mind for ever. But the memory of the boring little man who stood on a platform nearer to God than anyone I knew in our narrow little circle remained indelibly imprinted. To this day I cannot pass any non-conformist chapel without a sense of great unease and gloom.’ (Page 16). Here, Edna is stating how she was one of the unlucky children to have to be forced to go through the experience of Sunday school, likewise to myself, rather than to have her parents ask if she would like to go, which eventually put her off the idea all together.
The Maharishi had many famous followers, one of these being The Beatles. Edna says, ‘The Beatles listened, the audience listened and looked, fascinated equally by the Maharishi and the four Beatles.’ (Page 83). Through the Maharishi being involved with this group, it allowed Edna to become more involved in popular music of that time, widening her knowledge greatly.
Although Edna seems to have a very fond liking to her religion and God, she does at some point in the memoir stop discussing it and begin to discuss the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. This seems to take a very big interest in Edna’s life and she seems to be very interested in the sort of work that he does. However, I believe that the belief in God never goes away completely, it provides you with someone that is always there to talk to and guide you wherever needed.
Edna states many times how her love for dancing began, she says, ‘I danced as naturally as I walked from my earliest years.’ (Page 55). She continues by describing how she spent a lot of her free time dancing and in dance classes, and also what made her ultimately give it up.
It is clear towards the end of the memoir, Edna begins discussing her activities that she enjoys taking part in. Most of these are to do with the artistic side of her husband, John Bold. She says, ‘became a member of Manchester Academy of Fine Arts, a member of the Modern Painters of the Royal Cambrian Academy.’ (Page 122). Due to her husband being interested in each of these clubs and societies, Edna was also involved in them, and began to love them and take a great interest in them just as much as he did.
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.