Charlotte Dorothy Meadowcroft was born in 1901. This unpublished excerpt of her handwritten life writing, titled ‘Bygones’, follows her brief period at school, then through various jobs, finishing at age twenty-one, around the year 1922. Throughout that time, she moves around Derbyshire, as far North as Darley Dale, and finishes near her future husband in Bournemouth.
Charlotte got my interest through her location, as I was also born in Derby. I was interested to see the significance of the local area at that time, especially during World War One, in which the local Rolls-Royce factory played an important part in the production of ammunition, and the development of ‘The Eagle’ aero engine.
After a close reading of the text, it was clear that I wasn’t going to get much information on that. Charlotte’s writing reads more like a retrospective diary, giving an emotional and internalised account of her younger years. The downside to that is her lack of specifics. She rarely mentions names or specific locations, but refers to them through their relationship to her, e.g. my mother, the scullery maid, the school. This can make it difficult to find other information surrounding the events she writes about, but the positive effect is a very personal account of the memories important to her. Her point of view exposes various aspects of early 20th C. life, in the home, the school and the workplace.
For that reason, Charlotte’s writing will be useful to anyone wanting to look at the social, economic and political roles of working women in the 1900’s.
The most striking thing throughout Charlotte’s writing is her light hearted approach to life. In nearly every event, there is some reference to the mischief she has caused, and especially from her late teens, her life seems to be directed by the trouble she gets in. It is not difficult to see Charlotte Meadowcroft as an early 20th Century gossip girl.