The above image is an extract from Edna Bold’s memoir. She included the words in her foreword that allow her to create a humorous tone of voice for the beginning of her memoir, forcing readers to be captivated and want to continue reading. She describes why she wrote her memoir, including an indication that it is full of anecdotes about her life.
As it is uncertain as to the reason why Edna wrote her memoir, as she simply does not state it, it is clear of her motivation. She says, ‘The anecdotes are chosen because I best remember them or because they most attract me. If they are of sufficient interest, they are too short. If they are tedious, sketchy or superficial, they are too long.’ (Foreword). The reason behind why she wrote the memoir can be merely seen as wanting to portray her life in the writing of the long and short anecdotes that she can remember.
I am unsure as to when Edna began to write her memoir, but she states that she finished writing it on July 27th 1978. I would assume that she started writing it earlier that year. She begins with her childhood memories and each of the chapters go along with age, eventually ending with her adult memories.
Helen Buss discusses the reasoning for many women to write a memoir in her text, Repossessing the World: Reading Memoirs by Contemporary Women, ‘The memoir is increasingly used to interrogate the private individual’s relationship to a history and/or a culture from which she finds her experience of her self and her life excluded. Although individual men can also find themselves in an excluded position (and do write memoirs as a result), it is women who most often take up the memoir form for the specific purpose of revising cultural contexts so that their experience is not excluded.’ (Buss, page 3). Buss continues by saying ‘these women are changing the ways in which we tell our stories as human beings’. (Buss, page 3). This allows Edna to be included in this category, by being one of the women that have brought their own stories into the world, in the form of a memoir, allowing readers to be involved in their lives.
I believe that Edna wrote the memoir for herself and to allow her legacy and memories live on. However, she states in the foreword, ‘This book is made for my grand-nieces and nephews.’ (Foreword). It is clear that she has dedicated the memoir to her grandnieces and nephews, as she would like them to get to know her life story before it is too late.
Edna speaks for herself throughout the entire memoir. She includes the third person pronoun ‘we’ when discussing her family in the first few chapters where they are mentioned. She continues by solely discussing her own life until she reaches the point of meeting her husband, John, where she includes sentences such as: ‘He reads mathematics, geology, physics at college. The arts figure low in his list of priorities.’ (Page 117). Here, Edna has shifted from telling the reader about herself and her own life, to discussing her husbands. It is clear that she is affectionate towards John as she dedicates many chapters to portraying his life and his passions. She says, ‘He went through all the conventional motions; became a member of the Manchester Academy of Fine Arts, a member of the Modern Painters of the Royal Cambrian Academy. He was invited to join the Manchester Group founded by Margo Ingham and the Lancaster Group established by Colin Hilton.’ (Page 122). Below is an image of a painting by John Bold situated in the Manchester Art Gallery.
Despite Edna’s memoir being written for certain family members, I do not believe that this has influenced the type of subjects she chooses to discuss in her memoir. For example, Edna dedicates one of her chapters to ‘Seks’ (page 20). Although Edna does discuss her experiences and realisations of what it was like when she was younger to find out what sex was, the content is not explicit in any way. She says, ‘my cousin Dorothy, who had shared this traumatic experience unearthed a large medical book from the highest shelf of a kitchen bookcase. Whenever we were left alone in the house she would climb up and secure the book, and together we would continue our education.’ (Page 21). It is clear that Edna and her cousin, Dorothy, were intrigued about sexual education, and they were the only people who were going to teach themselves about it. Many of Edna’s readers will be able to relate to this, as up until recently, many schools did not discuss any type of sexual education. Similarly, some parents believe it is best not to tell their children about this type of subject.
I believe that the aims and motivations of Edna’s memoir are very similar to many of the memoirs on this website as they are mostly unpublished memoirs just written for themselves, either for family or friends or just to allow themselves to create a text filled with their life.
Jonathon Rose states in his text, ‘Rereading the English Common Reader: A Preface to a History of Audiences’, ‘Although autobiographies will prove to be the richest sources for a history of audiences, they must be used with caution and balanced against other materials.’ (Rose, page 51). This is why I have attempted to link Edna’s memoir to other blogs and memoirs on this website, to allow readers to get a better sense of what is going on at that point in time.
This blog links to Beti Thomas’s blog whose memoir is typed and bound, as she wrote her memoir many years after Edna, in 2011, Edna’s memoir was only type written. Mary Norreen Hart has also included many pictures of herself and her family throughout the memoir, which is the only thing that I believe is missing from Edna’s memoir. However, I have attempted to add some pictures of Edna and her family into my blogs wherever necessary.
Bold, Edna. ‘The long and short of it. Being the recollections and reminiscences of Edna Bold’, Burnett Archive of Working Class Autobiographies, University of Brunel Library, Special Collection, 2:85, available at https://bura.brunel.ac.uk/handle/2438/9420
Buss, Helen. Repossessing the World: Reading Memoirs by Contemporary Women. Canada: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2002.
Rose, Jonathan, ‘Rereading the English Common Reader: A Preface to a History of Audiences.’ Journal of the History of Ideas. 1 (1992): 47-70.
NB: all pictures and images have links of their source.