Mary Bradbury (b. circa 1900): Purpose and Audience

Mary Bradbury – Purpose and Audience

Mary Bradbury’s autobiography[1] reminisces upon her childhood, in a staggered and disjointed manner which does not follow a linear pattern. These memories allow the reader to view her early and most interesting memories. Although Mary never explicitly states what her intentions are for the reader, it is clear that she deems it necessary to give an account of her life. Occasionally a memory could seem insignificant to the reader, however this cannot be the case as every memory is pertinent in the mind of Mary. Regenia Gagnier[2] states in her study of the working class autobiography that many of these authors write their memoirs in order to “understand themselves”. Autobiographies, such as Mary’s, help a modern and sheltered society, understand areas of the working class from over a century ago. Hackett states that together these pieces of work “become cultural narratives rather than individual stories[3]”, adding to a larger collection of information about a world which is foreign to us.

The Picturesque Cotterdale

Mary is one of many writers who have “insisted upon their own histories”, which is one of the key aspects of her writing. At the age of 5 she experiences near death experiences while rambling by the local rivers. Her wild nature is reflected upon via her older and wiser self in an understated manner, which shows her audience the free nature of growing up in a rural setting in the early 20th century. She shows the idyllic image of rural life to be more dangerous than would be expected, but it is the realness of her writing which creates such an engaging autobiography for the reader.

“This game was originally played about 1860 by children spitting into the water, but I don’t think it could have been very successful and certainly not enjoyed by the small boy who fell in

Cotterdale – An exciting place to grow up!

Mary clearly enjoys reminiscing on her childhood as her adventures were outlandish compared to the modern day child. It is the fondness of her childhood which brings out the emotions in her recollections. She writes in a way which conveys a narrative. Shown in the above quote, her syntax is clearly written for an audience, and not just for her own personal use. This tone is a pleasure to read, and I believe she writes in order to entertain and inform a modern audience. This completely contradicts Garnier where she states that a working class autobiography does “not exhibit flair or personality”. Mary goes against the norm whilst discussing her love of wildlife and her family. She is poetic within the actions of her life and her style of writing compliments this.

One of the endearing aspects of Mary is the lack of knowledge the reader has of her adult life. It is not clear what path she goes down. However she portrays childhood vividly enough to make the autobiography powerful and relevant.

[1] Bradbury, M. My End is My Beginning, Burnett Archive 2:871 1973

[2] Gagnier, Regenia. ‘Working-Class Autobiography, Subjectivity, and Gender.’ Victorian Studies. 30:3 (Spring, 1987). 335-363.

[3] Lent, Robert W., Steven D. Brown, and Gail Hackett. “Toward A Unifying Social Cognitive Theory Of Career And Academic Interest, Choice, And Performance”. Journal of Vocational Behavior 45.1 (1994): 79-122. Web.

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