Maud’s home life was something to be desired by other working-class families living in Tipton at that time, certainly if we consider the overcrowding experienced by large families living in tiny rooms and the unsanitary living conditions that many faced. On record, ‘more than 90 per cent of residents of working-class districts lived with relatives,’ (Dupree, Family Structure, 100-1) and this high percentage really stuck out to me whilst reading is as it begins to show the harsh living conditions these families faced.
Maud was one of the lucky ones: she had a healthy, well-nourished upbringing in a house that does not seem overcrowded or unsanitary. This was most likely due to the fact that her Father had a well respected job as a plumber and that the family owned their own small shop in the neighbourhood.
There is no doubt in my mind that Maud’s Mother was the domesticated one out of her parents, as she mainly writes about her Mother’s excellent cleaning skills and love she showed towards her children: ‘“Whilst he is feeding, I am resting, and we are getting to know each other” – My dead Mother.’ (Clarke, 3) Maud presents her Mother as a role model to the young ones within her household. Even when the children began to grow up and leave the house for school, she writes how; ‘reaching home, the first cry of a child was ‘which is mamma’ for Mother was an important and dearly-loved parent.’ (Clarke, 12).
Though Maud speaks very highly about her parents, there is a distinct lack of information about her Father. We know he is hardworking and loving, yet there is no obvious signs of his participation in the family household aside from making the money to be able to support them. In fact, Maud often compares the two parents in relation to their work; ‘Mothers, even with small dwellings did not go out to work. Father had to be well fed, as he alone brought home the only means of sustenance,’ (Clarke, 18). Here Maud suggests that the needs of fathers, as the main breadwinner, went unquestioned in many working-class homes. She also shows, perhaps unconsciously, how household labour was not considered ‘work’, because it was done by women at home and without pay.
Maud’s inclusion of photography becomes very important when discussing her family, as she encloses pictures of her sister, brother-in-law and also her husband later on. This for me seems to make the family unit seem a lot stronger, and suggests that her family remained an important subject for Maud even towards the end of her life.
The photograph that is included makes Maud’s autobiography more personal to her and to her readers, and also signifies the progression of technology. They are not paintings therefore must have been some of the first pictures taken by the owner of the camera, though Maud does not reveal who this is. It is an important contribution to Maud’s memoir and suggests a recollection of her happy childhood.
August, Andrew (2007). ‘The British Working Class 1932-1940.’ Great Britain: Pearson Education Limited. 21-24.
Clarke, Maud. ‘Untitled.’ pp.67, Brunel University Library. (1978)
Vincent, David. ‘Love and Death and the Nineteenth-Century Working Class.’ Social History, 5.2 (1980): 223-247.
[1,2] Clarke, Maud. ‘Untitled.’ pp.67, Brunel University Library. (1978)