Home and Family plays a large part in Annie’s memoir. This theme plays a significance in Annie’s life as she focuses the majority of her memoir on her childhood memories in the home. Annie brings her home in Collyhurst to attention throughout the entire memoir. She also expresses the relationships with her family. Due to this theme playing a meaningful part in Annie’s life I will complete a second part of this to present the most valuable parts of this memoir to its fullest standard.
Relationships between Annie and her family members are revealed at the beginning of the memoir. Annie was part of a large family “I was the youngest of five children and my parents were in their forties” (p7) Annie lived at home only with her parents and older brother, twelve years her senior. Even though she was part of a big family, she does not remember much about her other siblings “I have only the vaguest recollection of my two sisters and a brother being at home” (p7) Annie’s parents were classed as an older age group to have a child, her other three siblings had moved out as they were much older, leaving Annie without many memories of her brothers and sisters.
Annie describes her relationship with her brother living at home as she says “he had the job of looking after me, and we all know what that can do for a boy’s morale” (p3) Although Annie did not see her other siblings, her older brother was left to look after her as she describes her brother telling her this. “He tells me had the errands to do, pushing me around in a trolley type contraption” (p3) The idea of siblings looking after the younger siblings were common during that generation of 1920’s working class families as the father would be working and the mother completing domestic work around the house.
The differences of working class families and gender is present. The memoir shows how Annie’s father “earned good wages” (p3) as a foreman cabinet maker. After falling ill with neurasthenia (which is mentioned in detail in the Illness blog), Annie mentions that this event “must have been the hardest part of my mother’s life after my sisters had married” (p3). Annie’s family was left with no breadwinner, leaving her mother to take on both roles of earning an income and looking after the house. It is mentioned that due to both of Annie’s sisters being married they could neither look after the house which is what would have been expected for a young working class female to do in these circumstances.
Domestic work inside and outside the home is organised in a specific way in this memoir. Meals in the home were organised for set days “Monday dinner was always banana butties and Friday was meat pies” (p3). These customs were within the memories of Annie’s childhood in the home with her family.
“Monday washing took nearly all day as Mum washed for the people who lived in the big house” (p3) Annie’s mother would perform domestic work outside the home as a means of paid work and small income for the family and household. Many working class mothers would complete domestic chores outside the home as a way of paid work
‘Mrs Annie Ford (Born 1920)’, unpublished memoir, 2:291, Burnett Collection of Working Class Autobiography, Special Collections Library, Brunel University. 2:291 FORD, Annie, Untitled, TS, pp.7 (c.2,000 words).
Davies, Margaret Llewelyn, ed. Life as We Have Known It. By Co-operative Working Women. 1931. London: Virago, 1977
McCrindle, Jean and Sheila Rowbotham, Dutiful Daughters. Women Talk about their Lives. Harmondsworth, Penguin, 1979