Class is sometimes viewed as an objective phenomenon but I personally think Ernest Richard Shotton’s family life could be seen to blur some of the lines of this objectivity. This post will examine which part of Shotton’s life could be considered particularly working class and which parts push the boundaries towards middle class.
It is evident from the start of Ernest Richard Shotton’s memoir that he had strong family values throughout his whole life. Being one of 12 children, his home life was obviously very hectic and busy, not only for him but also for his parents. He begins his memoir with a small paragraph his parents and grandparents.
He then goes on to describe his family life in his home in Heath Street, Birmingham when he was a child. Shotton has a vivid memory of how is house looked when he was a child. His memories go as far as him remembering his mother and sister spending whole days doing the family washing. His father’s coal business was also a family run affair. Shotton writes about how at the age of 7 he was expected to shift small barrows of coal and deliver to customers. By contrast, most of his siblings moved into professional work as teachers and so on, and Shotton writes proudly of all 11 of them.
Christmas was an important family time. All of the family members were expected to come, a band created of family members would play in the parlour of the house. This was something that continued in his sister’s home after his mother died in 1902. This tradition is something Ernest holds close to his heart as the family managed 47 years of Christmas parties.
Ernest Richard Shotton’s own family life began in 1906 when he married at the age of 28. He went on to have two children, Dick and Ted within the succeeding five years. His memoir doesn’t talk much of his family life with his wife and children but rather explores his own working life. He was very keen to make sure that his wife and children would be stable if anything was to happen to himself.