The quote above found in Edna Bold’s memoir on page 58 is situated in the turning point from childhood memories to adult experiences. The quote suggests that she is referring to all of the events that she has been through and will soon discuss each of these ‘gates’ throughout the latter half of her memoir.
The theme of home and family appear to be just as important to Edna as an adult compared to when she was a child. Towards the later parts of her memoir, Edna begins talking about her adult relationships and how they have changed overtime. One of the most memorable parts of her adult life is when she starts to discuss her new life with her husband, John.
It was a struggle for me at first to find out information about Edna’s life due to her using her married name, Bold, rather than her maiden name, Mosley, throughout the memoir. Through this, I managed to find out a lot of valuable information about Edna’s life and family that she does not include in her memoir.
Edna provides proof that although Edna and her family have left the family home, they still make it their priority to visit each other in their new homes with their new families. ‘In the spring of ’59, my sister, Winifred, her husband, Bob, and their daughter, Susan, came to visit us’ (page 72). Edna includes the third person collective pronoun ‘us’ in this declarative sentence to make sure that she includes her new family in her memoir discreetly. Edna has suddenly shifted pronouns from ‘I’ in the first half of the memoir, to ‘us’ and ‘we’ in the second part to show that she now has become a part of somebody else’s life, her husbands.
It is clear to readers that the women in Edna’s family are taken care of by the men in the house. She does not make any reference to her job or her mother’s job, leading us to believe that they do not have one. Edna states multiple times throughout about her mother having more and more children, suggesting that her job is to look after the house and her children, similar to many other women at that time. John Burnett states in his text, Destiny Obscure: Autobiographies of Childhood, Education, and Family from the 1820s to the 1920s, ‘Edna Bold was born into a ‘respectable’ working class family in Beswick, Manchester, in 1904, neither rich nor poor, but hard working, somewhat narrow and puritanical.’ (Burnett, page 106).
Roughly, around the first half of the memoir is dedicated to Edna’s childhood experiences, it then shifts to her young adolescent years for the second half when she begins discussing about her experiences of college. This can suggest that she felt both her childhood and adult memories on family were equally as important.
This image is a portrait of Edna with her twin brother Stanley and their parents the year they were born, 1904. The newspaper is from 1983 in The Reporter. It shares Edna’s feelings as she attempts to recall memories of her hometown, Beswick, and what she can remember when she revisited the area many years later. Unfortunately, as stated in the image, ‘Edna has no relatives in Beswick and the last time she saw it was seven years ago’.
Most of the love that Edna discusses throughout her memoir is located within her childhood experiences of home and family when conveying to her readers her feelings towards her different family members; I have spoken about this in more detail in my first blog on Home and Family: Childhood Experiences, which you can find here. However, many of her feelings of loss are depicted in her adult experiences. One of the more discussed losses in her life is the death of her good friend, Alice Booth. It is clear to readers that Edna has felt a great deal of emotions when her friend dies as she devotes a number of chapters to Alice. The subheading is named ‘Alice Booth’ which allows her to give readers a heads up to what she is about to discuss next.
The amount of loss that Edna faces greatly affects her life and the way in which it shapes her memoir, ‘An increasing number die peacefully of old age in their beds, but a greater proportion suffer the savagery of disease or the butchery of lethal incidents. Alice Booth died of the one, my brother, Stanley, of the other’. (Page 71). Not only does Edna discuss the death of Alice Booth, but also the death of her brother, Stanley, under the subheading of ‘Fatality’. It is evident that although Edna and her brother were not as close as she was with other family members, she still felt a great deal of love towards him, enough to include his passing in her memoir.
Edna includes a section from a coroner’s report of her brother’s death in the Manchester Evening News in 1957, “No-one”, he said “could expect a combustion engine to rear up its front wheels in the manner of a horse in an effort to avoid its unfortunate victim”. (Manchester Evening News ’57)’. (Page 71). The fact that Edna includes this statement calling her brother, Stanley, an ‘unfortunate victim’ forces reader to understand that she was not an emotional person. Edna would rather state the truth of the occurrence rather than hide away from what has really happened. Unfortunately, I was not able to find the original coroner’s report from the Manchester Evening News. However, Julie Marie Strange states in her text Death, Grief and Poverty in Britain, ‘Social commentators were also alive to the possibilities of using familiarity with death as a political tool. In emphasising the horrific conditions in which some of the working class lived, death could be cast as an ethereal friend, heralding release from hardship and privation.’ (Strange, page 32). Although Stanley was not from these poor conditions that Strange discusses, he was not married and did not have children, which makes the readers of Edna’s memoir realise that he was a lonely man, from what we gather in the memoir, and to question whether it was a blessing in disguise.
The above image is what St. Margaret’s church and churchyard looks like now. Edna says in her memoir, ‘He was buried in St. Margaret’s churchyard during a snow storm’ (page 71). Although the image does not show the snowstorm what Edna would have experienced at her brothers funeral, it does show many of the gravestones which Stanley Mosley might be.
This blog appears to be very different from Beti Thomas’s Home and Family blog that you can find here. The main difference between our blogs is that Mary Hart’s memoir contains only childhood experiences whereas Edna Bold’s memoir contains both childhood and adult, which is why I have chosen to discuss both experiences in two separate blogs. However, Beti has decided to write a second Home and Family blog on Mary Hart’s adult experiences from her own investigation.
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
Burnett, John ed. Destiny Obscure: Autobiographies of Childhood, Education, and Family from the1820s to the 1920s. London: Alan Lane, 1982.
Strange, Julie-Marie. Death, Grief and Poverty in Britain, c. 1870-1914. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2005.
NB: all pictures and images have links of their source.