Annie Ford (1920 Onwards): Life and Labour

Labour in Annie’s memoir is partially central to it’s content. This is significant as it shows how work can create an individual’s identity. This is shown through Annie’s mother taking on the role of breadwinner and having to look after the family once her father stopped work. Her Mother, Father and Brother completed work as a means of making a living. Labour is a source of fellowship in the memoir as her family do as they can to live as they were “just about scraping” (p3). Although Annie and her family are not as well off as the rich they are in a basic comfortable position. Annie recollects travelling on holidays and having clothes bought for her, even if they were not the ones she wanted. “I was kept clean and tidy and well looked after” (p5)

Labour is not represented as exploitation in the memoir. After Annie’s father fell ill with Neurasthenia and could no longer work, this is when her Mother had to go out to earn an income for the family. This part of her mother’s labour expressed slight hardship “(So as long as I can keep out of debt I don’t mind)” (p3). Appearing to have a slight worry and concern for her family’s life surrounding money and work.

1920’s Woman washing clothes

There were a relationship between work, home and family. Once old enough, Annie’s brother at age 14 also went out to work at “ Waltons’ Collyhurst Road, a dyers and printing place” (p3) Although Annie’s brother was not forced into looking for a job, he was expected too as he came from a working class family that were just about surviving. None of the family seemed to complain about their life and labour. There is a sense of fellowship between the family members because they all work together in helping to support one another.

There were a relationship between work and other forms of social activity such as recreation and partial socializing. Annie’s mother “washed for the people who lived in the big house. This was how Mother supplemented our income” (p4). Annie’s mother used her domestic skills as a form of labour as she washed clothes for another family who were far better well off than Annie’s family. Annie’s mother’s next job was at a confectionery shop on the Balmoral row. Annie’s mother and father, although had worked hard in their lives, they were able to live with just one of the parents working one at a time whilst the other stayed at home.

Annie recalls she “felt sorry for the girl next door whose parents both went out to work full time” (p4) she later says “I thought they were the poor ones” (p4). Work is seen to be connected to class identity here. Annie places working full time in labour as being connected to a family who must be poor and who fit in the lower working class persona.

Class identity is presented differently as Annie recalls thinking Mr Horrocks, a retired headmaster of St. Oswalds School was the “richest man on earth” (p2) as he “gave me a sixpence” (p2)


‘Mrs Annie Ford (Born 1920)’, unpublished memoir, 2:291, Burnett Collection of Working Class Autobiography, Special Collections Library, Brunel University. 2:291 FORD, Annie, Untitled, TS, pp.7 (c.2,000 words). Brunel University Library.

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