C.V. Horner (1897–1980): Researching Writing Lives

As stated in ‘An Introduction’, my original purpose for selecting C.V. Horner was to settle my curiosity; the title of his memoir suggested a lifetime comprising of the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, all within the Yorkshire Dales. I was not disappointed. Horner’s life was a primarily joyous one and the structure of anecdote after anecdote from childhood to old age was a delightful touch. He tries to keep the tone as upbeat as possible, even when discussing the more serious matters of his life, leading to my interpretation that perhaps ‘Ups and Downs’ refers to the nature of the Dales themselves, rather than the events of his life.

Reading about Horner’s school and early working years has made me more appreciative of the opportunities that people of my age have access to today; he writes about how the younger generations seem to take the opportunities they have for granted, whereas there were almost none when he left school.

It was especially enjoyable to read about his passion for gamekeeping, regardless of what changes occurred throughout his life, whether it be the World Wars or the multiple jobs he had to work. From the days of watching his father to learning about the intricacies of various animals, his dedication to that lifestyle was impressive and inspiring. Although gamekeeping has never been an interest of mine, reading Horner’s memoir was an eye-opening experience, particularly in regards to this aspect of his life.

My experience with blogging was minimal prior to Horner’s memoir, yet the satisfaction I felt from sharing the many facets of his life helped to motivate me. My confidence in composing blogs has definitely grown and I have found that my ability to focus on and write about a specific concept within a grander text has been strengthened. Writing a blog has also been somewhat of a breath of fresh air; after years of writing in an academic and professional manner for essays and other assignments, being able to take a more relaxed and personal approach to writing was very much appreciated.

I have been familiar with social media for a number of years; however, promoting a blog was an aspect that I had not previously encountered, especially with Twitter. It was a challenge to use social media in this manner, but once I had become more familiar with the overall experience of blogging, it seemed less and less like I was outside of my comfort zone.

The most rewarding aspect of writing about Horner’s life is the contribution to public history and being able to share his life with the world. Horner had doubts about whether his memoir would even be published and if many people would read it, but as a result of this opportunity, I have been able to expand the accessibility of his memoir to that of a global scale, far beyond that of the friends he was initially writing for. Through Writing Lives, myself and the readers of his memoir have been able to experience what life was like for a working-class man from the Yorkshire Dales.

Throughout the writing of this blog, I have wondered if Horner ever thought it would be possible for his life to be showcased to the world. Having died in 1980, about a decade before the internet became accessible to the public, I would assume that Horner would not expect someone to be able to read about his life decades after it was initially published and from across the globe. Having been provided with this opportunity, I did not take it lightly as I wanted readers of my blog to be as fascinated with his life as I was reading the manuscript.

This is what I believe to be the main thing I have taken away from Writing Lives. The opportunity to tell the world about the life of a Yorkshireman, who initially doubted that his memoir would see the light of day, has been a humbling journey. I hope that anyone who reads about the life of C.V. Horner has as much fun reading about the jovial gamekeeper as I have had writing about him. Ultimately, I hope that C.V. Horner would be proud.

Bibliography

  • Burnett, John, David Vincent and David Mayall. Ed. ‘C.V. Horner.’ The Autobiography of the Working Class: An Annotated, Critical Bibliography 1790-1945. 3 vols. Brighton: Harvester, 1984, 1987, 1989: 2:422.

Images

  • Featured Image: Screenshot of the title of C.V. Horner’s memoir.

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