Anthony Errington (1778-1848): Researching Writing Lives

Taking part in such a compelling collaborative research project has been a truly fulfilling experience. It was a new challenge for myself which meant that I was learning every part of the way, just like I was learning about Anthony Errington’s life and character progressively. My blog and being part of a group was really rewarding, everyone supported each other and you could learn things from others to improve your own work.

As I study History and English, learning about Anthony Errington gave me the opportunity to fuse both subjects into one. I found it fascinating to delve into the life of a working class individual and being able to write creatively and informatively about him. This project is certainly a valuable part of public history. From each individual that is written about, you get a unique and much more personal insight into the society that they lived in. Also, before this project, the time that Anthony lived in seemed so alien to me but whilst researching, I formed a synergy with him and his society. This is because so many elements of Anthony’s world mirror our own society in England, such as the importance of faith and family to individuals. Blogging about Anthony offered a much more personalised discovery of a past life, something that the broadness of certain history texts sometimes can’t capture.

The waggonway excavation site at the former Neptune shipyard on Tyneside.

Blogging was a refreshing change to writing an essay. The process of short posts helped me keep creative and organise a suitable structure and narrative for each upload. Having had blogging experience before the project, I felt confident with the whole upload process and also with keeping my work straight to the point and exciting to read. I feel like this project really helped me work on my own blogging voice, with every upload I felt like I became more confident, especially as I connected with Anthony’s memoir more. I also had to make sure that I could keep the reader absorbed by my work and more importantly represent Anthony’s memoir respectfully. I had the responsibility to tell Anthony’s story to an audience and to me it was a crucial to do it justice. I did this by making sure I read Anthony’s memoir thoroughly and divided his work up thematically to make sure I covered every small detail in his life. Anthony’s memoir was very detailed and engrossing which meant this task was tackled with pleasure. The organisational skills that I learnt is something that I will definitely use when researching or writing again, it has opened my mind to new ways of planning and completing work.

‘Coals on Rails or The Reason of My Wrighting: The Autobiography of Anthony Errington, a Tyneside Colliery Waggon and Waggonway Wright’ (1778-1825 are the dates that this memoir covers, not his birth and death)

Next, being able to upload something historic onto a modern platform like Twitter represents endless opportunities for the writing lives project. Working class memoirs can be exposed to a wide audience as there is clearly a huge demand for finding out about the lives of these interesting people. It also means that there is less chance of these people being forgotten. It’s just a shame they can’t see the amount of people that are gripped and moved by their lives. They did write them with the aim of making their lives immortal but maybe not with the huge reception that they have achieved. Social media is a very positive thing for the research project and it is an essential tool for bloggers, the ability for posts to be shared supplies a huge opportunity. Social media gives projects like Writing Lives the opportunity to create a community between those involved and their audience, this relationship opens up the chance to research further and can inspire others to do so as well.

Writing Lives was a very enthralling experience for myself and clearly for the others involved too. When I posted my final upload, I felt a sense of achievement as I had resurrected Anthony’s life and had the pleasure of reading and researching it. Being involved in the project also developed my skill as a writer and blogger, whilst also making me more engaged with modern forms of sharing work like Twitter. Although this was an individual piece of work, there was a sense of community with the other people writing and it was fascinating to read about the other unique memoirs and how their stories were told. Writing lives is an important project that allows the past to be explored in a refreshingly contemporary way. Thanks for reading and sharing my posts!

 

Work Cited:

Errington, Anthony. Coals And Rails: the autobiography of Anthony Errington, a Tyneside colliery waggonway-wright. 1776 – c. 1825. Written between 1823 and about 1830. 1:231

 

Images Used:

‘The waggonway excavation site at the former Neptune shipyard on Tyneside’ – https://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/news/north-east-news/new-information-sheds-light-miraculous-14433768 

‘Coals on Rails or The Reason of My Wrighting: The Autobiography of Anthony Errington, a Tyneside Colliery Waggon and Waggonway Wright’ – https://www.abebooks.co.uk/Coals-Rails-Reason-Wrighting-Autobiography-Anthony/2569101702/bd 

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