Annie Lord (b. 1899): Disabilities – Part Two


“I was only married 2 years when I found out he was a cripple from 1914 War an ex[-]serviceman man mind you he kept it most from me War wounds in Head and Leg…” 

Lord, p: 3

As mentioned in my previous blog post, disability is a serious and recurrent theme throughout Annie’s memoir. During her younger years, her deafness tainted her education and career. Additionally, after childhood and into her more mature years, disability is still just as prevalent. However, ironically, this is not always just referring to Annie.

Annie writes about her miserable married life, to an evil and violent man; “… he use[d] to drink very Heavy and [he was] very aggressive…” (Lord, p: 3). Thus, her marriage to; “… an ex[-]serviceman…” (Lord, p: 3) was both mentally challenging and physically draining. However, it is very possible that Annie’s husband, John Lord, acts in such vile ways due to the injuries he suffered during world war one, “I found out he was a cripple from 1914 War…” (Lord, p: 3). Thus, of course the way John acts towards his wife is inexcusable. However, the damages inflicted upon his mind and body must be taken into consideration when referring to his erratic and abusive behaviour. Throughout David Vincent’s article, Social History, he states, “Yet whilst it is clearly the case that the functions of the family cannot be understood without a detailed knowledge of its structure, the analysis of structure can itself do no more thank sketch the shadowy outlines of what actually happened inside the family.” (Vincent, p: 1). Thus, Vincent suggests that without knowing every specific detail about Annie’s family, the overall tone and events are still rather clear to her readers. Furthermore, even though actual conversations and numerous events are not documented throughout Annie’s memoir, it is still evident that, yes, she was frequently abused by her husband but also, his mind and body was severely affected by his time at war.

In an attempt to try and cure John’s leg, he is taken into hospital for surgery. However, the operation did not go well and Annie states; “… he was made a worse of cripple than ever and he never Walked without a stick after that…” (Lord, p: 3). Therefore, despite doctor’s efforts to try and improve the appearance of a disability, visible to the eye, it only made his injury worse and much more apparent. Furthermore, the deterioration in his physical appearance only worsened his mental well-being, as Annie highlights that the operation; “… made him worse…” (Lord, p: 3) both in himself and in the ways in which he treated her. As a result of this, it is clear that the more potent injury was his mental state, a disability that cannot be seen. This was the case for both Annie and John. Nobody was aware of the trauma John felt daily, as a result of the war, just like people’s obliviousness to Annie’s struggle with loneliness, due to her deafness.

Below are a series of pictures, documented in Dr Rutherford Morrison’s, An introduction to Surgery, detailing a procedure called the ‘BIPP.’ A common surgery, performed on many soldiers during WW1. Without knowing any specific details about John’s war wounds, this may have been a similar injury to what Annie refers to throughout her memoir.

Throughout, The Cambridge Companion to Literature and Disability, Clare Barker and Stuart Murray write throughout their chapter, Introduction: On Reading Disability in Literature, “Disability is everywhere in literature. Whether in the bodies that populate countless narratives containing physical disability, or in the mental difference that informs so much detail about character and psychology, disability features in literary production as a constant presence.” (Barker, p: 10). Thus, Barker reiterates the need and importance to acknowledge the theme of disability, throughout literature, as a real and relevant subject. This is due to the sheer number of people that are suffering with both visible and non-visible disabilities, like Annie and John. 

To conclude, as previously stated, it is clear how apparent the theme of disability was throughout Annie’s life and therefore, throughout her memoir. However, this aspect is particularly significant, as not only did it affect Annie, the author, but it also affected her husband. Ultimately, this made life even harder for her. Furthermore, Annie does not receive any relief, as not only is she forced to deal with her own problems and insecurities, that stemmed from her deafness, but she also has to deal with her husband’s outbursts, which also stem from his deteriorating mental health.

Works Cited:

Barker, C., & Murray, S. (2017). Introduction: On Reading Disability in Literature. In C. Barker & S. Murray (Eds.), The Cambridge Companion to Literature and Disability(Cambridge Companions to Literature, pp. 1-14). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi:10.1017/9781316104316.002

Lord, Annie. ‘My Life,’ Burnett Archive of Working Class Autobiographies, University of Brunel Library, Special Collection Library, 2:486.

Vincent, David. (1980). Social History. Love and Death and the Nineteenth-Century Working Class. 5 (2), 223-247.

Images Used:

A procedure performed on WW1 soldiers called a ‘BIPP. ’From The British Library: https://www.bl.uk/britishlibrary/~/media/bl/global/world-war-one/collection-item-images/bipp-treatment-of-war-wounds3.jpg

A procedure performed on WW1 soldiers called a ‘BIPP. ’From The British Library: https://www.bl.uk/britishlibrary/~/media/bl/global/world-war-one/collection-item-images/bipp-treatment-of-war-wounds4.jpg

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