Joe Ayre was an author whose own working class life immediately appealed to me. Discovering that he was brought up in Liverpool only made me more determined to explore his life further.
Researching and writing about my authors life has been both challenging and rewarding for me. I feel that Joe Ayre’s life can be related to mine to some extent as there are areas and tourist attractions in Liverpool which Joe refers to in his memoir, for example, Liverpool Lime Street Station and the River Mersey, that I can still relate to almost a century later.
To some extent, I feel that I have contributed to public history. Not only have I visited the Manchester Imperial War Museum but I have also gathered my own historical research in order to broaden my understanding of what life was like during the First World War. As well as that, by exploring the life of one individual person has allowed me to study an important time in history from a very personal perspective. I was able to see how Joe Ayre and his typical working class family were made to suffer tremendously, both during and after WW1.
The writing style of a blog is something that I was unfamiliar with. I have found that the structure and the layout of blogs, such as the use of images and hyperlinks, make blog writing far more enjoyable. Because of the different writing style to that of an essay, I found that the informal aspect made it less pressurising to find challenging and complicated vocabulary.
By focusing on one persons memoir has made me feel attached to my author and proud of what I have achieved in portraying his life. I hope that if Joe Ayre had have had the opportunity to read the ten blogs that I have written to represent his life, he would be satisfied with how I have presented it.
Being involved in a collaborative project has developed my confidence in publishing my blogs so that it is available to the outside world. Previously, I had often been paranoid when writing essays because there tends to be a common theme which most people will look at, in other words, there tends to be a right and wrong approach to a text. However, in blog writing, no two people will have written exactly the same. The way in which you choose to approach a memoir is entirely from your own interpretation.
By asking my peers to proof-read my work has helped me to make the style of my blogs more direct and straight to the point. Blog writing was something which my project group had never experienced before so by helping each other has allowed us to develop areas which perhaps we would never have considered.
As well as that, I had never used social media with an academic approach before. This has made me appreciate the serious aspect of social media. By using twitter in this way allowed me to quickly and efficiently find out relevant information that I wanted to include in my memoir. Not only has twitter been a source of social media that I found useful for the communication and the historical contextual side of my memoir, but when I found the census of my chosen author made me feel a sense of pride. I was shocked to see how a family of over twelve people were living in a house with only three bedrooms. My admiration goes out to not only my author Joe Ayre’s family, but many other working class families who were suffering in a life threatening way.
John Burnett, David Vincent and David Mayall (eds), The Autobiography of the Working Class: An Annotated, Critical Bibliography 3 vols. (Brighton: Harvester, 1984, 1987, 1989) 2:029
Joe Ayre ‘The Socialist’, MS, pp.178 (c.43,250 words), Burnett Collection of Working Class Autobiography, no. 29, Brunel University Library.