Audience and Purpose

There is no clear indication why someone who is not within the public eye as to why they would write such a dense and rich memoir about their life experiences.  As Regenia Gagnier says about working class autobiographies, they are about people ‘whom little is known’ (336) The only explanation that can offered is that they felt the desire to speak for their community and class system, in this case George Clifton Hughes wanted to give the working class a voice, the memoir is written as a personal tale of one’s life journey, but talks about different aspects of working class life in early twentieth Britain to be read as a political document.

Hughes’s writing manages to have a lasting effect on his audience and readers with his fantastic tales of his early life. With Britain being a largely populated society driven by a sporting culture, his tales of the Wembley FA Cup final speak and resonate with a large demographic of readers. This also relates to his tales of his home town of Rhos which will be little known to people from outside of the village. Hughes is able to write intelligently about significant subjects of the early twentieth century, ranging from war, politics, education and sport. This signifies the education that Hughes received from Rhos Grammar school. The range and importance of the subjects demonstrate an intention from Hughes for his memoirs to live beyond his own life. He brings the village of Rhos to the forefront of World War One. He wants to give Rhos and similar towns the recognition for the part they played in such an important part of British History.

A monument in Rhos in recognition to those who lost their lives during World War I

Hughes shows a determination to his reader to show his reader his own and residents of his town the adventuresses of the village, we already know about his venture to the 1923 FA Cup final but he talks about one of his ‘fondest’ memories being a trip to see the Voice Choir compete ‘in the national.’  Within this passage he discusses the pride he has for the village of Rhos and their talents he describes it as Rhos’s ‘underlying strength.’ Gagnier in her journal ‘Social Atoms: Working-Class Autobiography, Subjectivity and Gender’ Discusses the genre of working class memoirs with one being described as ‘commemorative stories’ which is described as ‘domestic, and itinerant workers; political or polemical narratives by authors with organised political bases, largely from the industrial North’ We can associate this style of writing with Hughes’s memoir with his writing focussing on working class culture.

Gagnier later discusses the development of working class memoirs such as Shut the Mountain Gates as ‘it permitted the dream of a pilgrim’s progress to people whose life-events were to doomed to hopeless repetition.’ (347) Hughes’s work refutes the claim of ‘hopeless repetition’ as he clearly opposes that way of living with his adventurous and outgoing style.  Hughes leaves just enough room for his memoir to not be categorised as a personal diary, Hughes leaves a lot of room in his writing to pay homage to those around him, he is able to give a vivid and accurate account of the mining industry and the strikes that went with it, with more recognition such work would have worked as a source of inspiration in the late twentieth century. It can be argued that the memoir is not academically structured, but this works in favour for what Hughes is trying to do with his writing, he is trying to tell different tales in isolated stories that fit in to different aspect of working class life from a wide range of subjects told by a well education man both academically and socially.


G. Clifton Hughes. Burnett Archive of Working Class Autobiographies, University of Brunel Library, Special Collection Library, vol. 4 2.426

Gagnier, Regenia. ‘Working-Class Autobiography, Subjectivity, and Gender.’ Victorian Studies 30.3 (1987): 335-363

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