“Mother used to sit and write it at night when she couldn’t sleep”
The memoir of Lucy Luck is one of great interest, written towards the end of her life, the reason behind Lucy’s decision to write her memoir is never disclosed by Lucy herself. Instead the reason for Lucy writing her memoir is revealed by Lucy’s daughter, in her short but impactful memory of her mother writing, “Mother used to sit and write at night when she couldn’t sleep.” Lucy’s daughter alludes to her mother’s writing of her memoir as a cathartic act, Lucy’s turning to writing when she cannot sleep leads to an element of personal reflection. It presents how writing is something that Lucy has used to process the events of her life and gives us an idea of the purpose behind Lucy’s writing. This purpose adds to the reading experience, as it allows the reader to feel more connected to Lucy. We can imagine her sitting at night writing down her memories, a deeply personal way of composing her memoir. However, there are moments in Lucy’s memoir that indicate how she was writing with a reader in mind through such statements like “I must tell you (2).” When writing these statements Lucy must have wrote with a sense of familiarity towards the reader due to her friendly and familiar tone.
The publication of the memoir is highly intriguing, as it is published in The London Mercury Newspaper, a newspaper created by J.C Squire with the purpose of creating a literary magazine that included a variety of literature. The London Mercury included prose, poetry and more in order to enrich the public with a spectrum of literature. The inclusion of Lucy’s memoir in such a publication highlights the scope of the newspaper and the fulfilling of Squire’s desire to include all elements of literature. The presence of a working-class memoir in a public forum sets Lucy’s memoir apart from other working-class autobiographies. Unfortunately the volume of the newspaper that Lucy’s memoir was published in cannot be accessed as it has not been digitized. We only have the edited pre-printed version of the memoir, as a result we are not able to see what has been changed in Lucy’s memoir in the final publicised version. This inability to find Lucy’s memoir reflects the lack of consideration for working class writings, as Lucy’s memoir remains lost due to the lack of interest in preserving the writings of the working class.
The version of the memoir that we do have, is a typewritten pre-print that includes the editor’s own corrections to Lucy’s memoir. Instead of a final publicised version, we get to see Lucy’s own mistakes and writing habits, such as her misuse of words and spelling mistakes. Being able to see Lucy’s mistakes evokes the sense of writing with no audience in mind, the mistakes also indicate her working-class upbringing and the minimal education received for children of the workhouse. To read more about Lucy’s time in education click here.
The crossings out and corrections made to Lucy’s phrasing, removes the element of writing for herself and for personal reasons, instead it shifts the memoir into becoming a professional piece of writing. Whilst the final version would have lost the element of the personal writing habits of the working classes, this editing process does however make Lucy’s memoir even more unique, as it is none other than J.C Squire himself who edits Lucy’s memoir. Squire’s desire to edit Lucy’s memoir displays his efforts towards publishing the writing created by the working classes. The changes that Squire makes are used in a way that makes Lucy’s memoir become more readable, and as a result become more accessible to readers.
The title of a memoir is an aspect that can largely go unnoticed; however they can be equally as revealing in relation to how the writer feels about their own memoir. Lucy’s being a short memoir is reflected in the title, it is a key part of the memoir and is highlighted by Helen Rogers and Emily Cuming in their text Revealing Fragments: Close and Distant Reading of Working-Class Autobiographies: “some of the titles of the autobiographies make reference to what the authors perceive to be the amateur quality of their accounts, or their brevity…Lucy Luck’s suitably alliterative title ‘A Little of My Life (Rogers, Cuming,2019,184).” By highlighting how the title of the memoir can reveal more about the writers own feeling towards the memoir it raises questions in regards to Lucy’s memoir Being published two years after her death it is difficult to know if Lucy herself wrote the title of her memoir or if it has been composed after her death. This uncertainty adds to complexity of Lucy’s memoir and makes it all the more exciting explore.
Lucy’s memoir is one that has multiple aspects of uniqueness when compared with other working-class autobiographies, particularly when looking at the publication of her memoir. Lucy’s autobiography is one that reaches a variety of audiences but is a memoir that is composed without a particular audience in mind. Publications such as the London Mercury Newspaper highlight the interest surrounding working-class memoirs due to the presence of Lucy’s memoir in a major media forum. Lucy’s memoir is layered with interesting and complex elements when exploring the purpose of her memoir and her audience.
Cuming, Emily and Rogers, Helen. Revealing Fragments: Close and Distant Reading of Working-Class Autobiography. Journal of Family and Community History (2019)
Luck, Lucy. A Little of My Life. The London Mercury Newspaper. (1926)
Making Britain. The London Mercury. http://www.open.ac.uk/researchprojects/makingbritain/content/london-mercury
Sir J. C. Squire (Sir John Collings Squire) Biography.
Sir J. C. Squire (Sir John Collings Squire) Biography – (1884–1958), (Sir John Collings Squire), New Age, New Statesman, London Mercury, The Three Hills, American Poems – JRank Articles http://www.jrank.org/literature/pages/5852/Sir-J-C-Squire-(Sir-John-Collings-Squire).html#ixzz6tQfMgkDT
Modernist Magazines Projects. The London Mercury image.
John Squire Image. Poetry Foundation.