Arthur Gill (b.1887): Home and Family

“My Parents hadn’t much of this worlds’ wealth, but they provided as much entertainment for us as they could afford- and because these feasts were not very frequent, we enjoyed them all the more”

family activities

Arthur’s home life and family are a very prominent and important part of his memoirs, and although he speaks very little about his siblings, apart from Will, his memories of his mother and father are central.

Arthur writes passionately about his father and his love for what he did.  It is clear throughout that his father assumed the role of bread winner, while his mother made the home, cooked, and tended to the children. Any other domestic set up in the 1800-1900s would have been almost unheard of.  Arthur like his parents adapted this set up in later years also, were he was the bread winner and Ellen made a home for them and their children.

In his memoirs Arthur portrays his mother as an ill and fragile woman, however not quaint in character and unlike his father, she lacked his patience.

Arthur’s relationship with his brother Will is a defining feature mid way through his memoir, recounting the turbulent nature of their relationship.  Arthur’s discusses how his need for stability in his working life wrecked havoc in his personal life, causing Will and Arthur’s relationship to become fraught.

brothers

Arthur and Will’s relationship played a significant role in Arthur’s life, and how we read his memoirs. In many ways Arthur’s recollection of this upsetting time afforded the reader to see a man who above all else put his responsibilities for his wife and children first, even above his own aspirations. This, to the reader is characteristic of the time he lived, but most importantly of his raring.

Arthur’s childhood was neither frugal nor abundant; his family worked to survive and instilled their ethics into Arthur. Arthur, to the reader, resembles that of his father, making the best of what he had.  Arthur recalls his father’s words “Well lad, I’ve been sadly bent, but never broken.”

Arthur’s ability to relate to his father words is poignant, showing the reader a glimpse of Arthur’s vulnerability, reminding us that he indeed suffered a horrific emotional breakdown. While Arthur mentions this, he does not dwell on it, and hastily moves on to talk about happier times, shared with his friends, work colleagues and most importantly family.

Another aspect of Arthur’s Home life was when he grew up and built his own home with Ellen Calvert (1888). This time in Arthur’s life was a very happy one, Arthur’s love for Ellen lasted a lifetime and his devotion and attachment for Ellen never waned.   When he mentioned her in his memoir, his affections were very apparent, especially in the earlier part of their relationship.  To the reader, Arthur was very much love struck. He held onto a photograph of when they first met, Ellen and their love was a central theme in the later part of his memoirs too.

Arthur’s children were a great source of pride to him, each incredibly acomplished.  Walter had great commitment to the Methodist church, like Arthur he devoted much time to the people of his congregation. Arthur shared his father’s love of drawing and painting.   And Betty, his only daughter was a school teacher and a very accomplished woman. Arthur’s tone within the memoir when mentioning his children and wife Ellen were very distinct; a pervading sense of love, pride and joy.

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