“… Real[l]y my life was a misery. Beaten and knocked about for nothing at all.”Lord, p:3
In contrast to her childhood, Annie does not reflect upon her adulthood quite so fondly. This was primarily due to her abusive and lonely marriage to an; “… ex[-]service man…” By the age of twenty-five, Annie had left her previous job as a kitchen maid to get married to a man named John Lord. In Working Class Cultures in Britain, 1890-1960: Gender, Class and Ethnicity, Joanna Bourke states that “working-class women began to withdraw from industrial life into the home, where they tried to emulate the domestic lifestyles of the wealthy.” (Bourke, p: 52). Like many other women of the era, Annie believed she would stay at home in order to take care of her children and husband, whilst John went to work, in order to provide for his family. However, Annie soon realised that this would not be the case for her, “I was only married 2 years when I found out he was a cripple from 1914 War…” (Lord, p: 3). Unknowingly to Annie, she entered into a marriage with a man, severely injured, both mentally and physically by the first world war with “… War wounds in head and leg.” (Lord, p: 3).
Due to the injuries John suffered and endured from the war, he makes Annie’s life a, “misery.” (Lord, p: 3). Not only does she state this, but it is also made clear through her shift in tone, “So you see, you just had to take it those days there was nothing I could do.” (Lord, p: 4). Thus, her defeatist attitude mirrors her lack of hope and her resignation towards life. She states that she was “Beaten and knocked about for nothing at all…” (Lord, p: 3). Furthermore, Annie accepts the abuse of her husband, as his aggressive behaviour, is hernormality.
Annie’s want and need to create an ideal home and family life is still apparent throughout her more mature years: “I stuck by my kids…” (Lord, p:5) Thus, despite being a victim of severe domestic violence, Annie refused to leave her children. Not only does this highlight just how strong and resilient she was, but it also suggests how important family was to her. For example, Annie frequently tried to help and rehabilitate her husband: “I tried hard with him and forgave him lots of times to get him on the Right Road…” (Lord, p: 3) Thus, she wanted a happy family and home life, similar to the one she had as a child. Despite stating “we used to have some good times when we got him under control…” (Lord, p:5) Annie later states that this was “not very often”. Keeping the family unit stable was virtually impossible due to John’s explosive and vile behaviour.
As a result of her husband’s “jealous nature” (Lord, p:3) Annie had few friends, which meant she had nobody to talk to or confide in. This ultimately left her feeling more isolated and alone than ever before, “I did not know what it was to have a woman friend…” (Lord, p: 4) John’s frequent bullying and the restrictions he inflicted upon Annie meant that all of her time and energy was entirely focused on him. Annie even suggests that John was jealous of the love and attention she gave their children: “But they (her children) have been throu[gh] it like me, Well we jogged along for years But the uproars at times were just terrible, I Real[l]y think he got jealous of the children…” (Lord, p:5) The jealousy he feels towards his children highlights his need and desire to control and manipulate his wife.
However, Annie finds true happiness and purpose in her children: “they have all turned out wonderful and have never Been a disgrace to me” (Lord, p:5) In spite of their cruel and violent father, Annie’s children grew up to be good, kind people, this made her extremely proud. Despite not having a particularly loving or healthy relationship with her husband, the bond she shared with her children was unmistakable. After, the death of her husband Annie lived entirely alone and struggled with isolation: “the at[m]os[p]here got to[o] much for me, it played on my nerves and [I] was not eating or sleeping…” (Lord, p: 6) Eventually she went to live with her son and his wife and was cared for by them throughout her later years” “I had to change over my House and get another Room to live with (my) son and his wife have got my own Room” (Lord, p:6).
Evidently, family is a significant and central theme throughout Annie’s memoir. In numerous ways, Annie frequently refers back to this and in some instances, she does this subconsciously. Her resilience is apparent throughout her writing, most particularly through her strength throughout a cold and vicious marriage, as well as her sheer loyalty and resilience to stand by, protect and care for her children. Furthermore, despite never receiving the idyllic marriage that she wished so strongly for, Annie was rewarded with something, arguably much greater: her children, her true family, adored and loved her.
Bourke Joanna (1993). Working Class Cultures in Britain, 1890-1960: Gender, Class and Ethnicity. London: Routledge. 10-275.
Lord, Annie. ‘My Life,’ Burnett Archive of Working Class Autobiographies, University of Brunel Library, Special Collection Library, 2:486.
An image of an ideal family unit. From, The Army Children Archive (TACA): http://www.archhistory.co.uk/taca/1914-18_files/228-wwi-welshpool-family.jpg
An image of Two English soldiers, severely injured due to WW1. From, Historical Photos: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-wA52tKxZroI/Ucv8CvNJATI/AAAAAAAAB5w/grU3zNTC76w/s1600/KLvyNPu.jpg