Annie Lord (b.1899) Researching Writing Lives

My whole time and experience on the Writing Lives module has been only positive. I feel so privileged to have been able to research and document the life of Annie Lord. She truly was an extraordinary person. As well as this, throughout the module, I have learned numerous, valuable skills that I can use and apply throughout the rest of my academic education and working life.

At first, I was reluctant in choosing the Writing Lives module as one of third year options. This was primarily down to the fact it appeared to be so different to any other module I have studied throughout my three years in university and therefore, it appeared rather daunting. However, I couldn’t be happier with my choice in taking it. 

I found that this course in particular, heavily focused on editing and re-editing work, in order to produce a final, precise and most importantly, accurate piece of work, that truly and honestly reflected the working-class individual in question. In my case, this was Annie. Personally, I wanted to do right by my author and present her as positively as possible, whilst still doing justice to the hardships she endured throughout her life. Thus, unlike any other module I have studied, Writing Lives forced me, as the editor, to sympathise and relate to Annie in ways that cannot be done when analysing a character in a novel. This was due to the fact I was very aware that the life I was analysing, was that of a real person. Furthermore, due to focusing on one person’s life for over thirteen weeks, I felt a responsibility to do Annie justice and giver her life and memoir meaning.

Throughout my blog posts, I tend to frequently refer back to two primary, negative aspects of Annie’s life. The first one being her disability. This massively shaped her overall outlook on life. From the earliest years of her life she suffered discrimination. This ranged from things like, not being able to excel in school, feeling different in comparison to her thirteen siblings and being rejected or let go from numerous jobs as soon as her employers found out she was partially deaf. The second aspect being, her unhealthy marriage to John Lord, whom frequently abused and bullied Annie. Thus, my reasoning for returning back to these points time and time again, is to highlight Annie’s inner strength and choice to carry on, no matter how traumatic her personal life was.

Initially, I struggled with the work load. The overall process of creating a blog was foreign to me. Thus, attempting to understand and familiarise myself with the Writing Lives website, whilst also trying de-familiarise myself with the normal essay format I was so used to, was extremely challenging. However, after careful planning and organisation, I was eventually able overcome this obstacle and I very much enjoyed the detailed research required for my author blog. I felt a great sense of accomplishment throughout this module. This is due to the fact that Annie very rarely gave any specific details of her life throughout her memoir, she doesn’t even mention the names of her mother and father, siblings, husband or children. Instead, she tends to summarise one point and then very quickly, moves on to another. Furthermore, a great deal of research was required to establish even small, fundamental details of Annie’s life. I believe I have accurately highlighted this throughout my blog posts.

A key and essential aspect of this module was social media. In particular, Twitter. Being able to interact and receive feedback from my peers was extremely helpful and reassuring. On numerous occasions, my peers or myself would turn to our fellow Twitter uses, that were also researching working-class authors for the Writing Lives module, for advice. The majority of the time, all queries were resolved through Twitter and thus, students were able to help themselves and each other, without always needing to refer to a module leader for guidance. 

To conclude, I truly feel honoured to have had the opportunity to research into the life of Annie Lord. I previously stated that I was dubious about picking this module because it was so different to anything I have ever studied before. However, this is exactly what makes the module so unique. I would highly recommend anybody interested in a career in publishing or editing to consider taking this course, as the skills and techniques you learn throughout are exceptional. Furthermore, I truly feel as though I have been able to understand and appreciate Annie’s life and experiences, in ways that just cannot be achieved when analysing a character. Thus, being given the opportunity to share many of the most personal thoughts, memories and experiences of a real person, truly was a privilege to do.

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