Dorothy Squires (b.1897): Researching Writing Lives

Being a part of this collaborative research project has been the highlight of my academic life. Getting to know Dorothy and her family through her own words is an experience that I don’t think could ever be replicated.

I had never written a blog before or undertaken this level of research before starting this project so this was a new experience for me. I have always had a keen interest in history, but it has never been my strongest subject, so this project was perfect as it incorporated both history and my love for writing. I found writing a blog much more interesting and rewarding than writing an essay as it is for a wider audience. Working collaboratively has been an enlightening experience, it has made made me a better writer and it has shown me how much it is possible to learn from piecing parts of history together from the different writings of the working class, giving the world a bigger picture of what it was like in society decades and even centuries earlier, from the people that lived through it.

Using twitter to reach a wider audience was also a new experience. Although i have had twitter for a number of years, it remained relatively unused. Seeing my tweets being retweeted by others, especially when they were complimentary about my work, was very motivating. I now see how the use of social media is fantastic for connecting people with similar interests, wherever they are in the world.

What attracted me to Dorothy’s memoir was date in which she was born. As she was born in 1897 I knew there was a greater chance there would be living relatives. Finding these relatives what quite a task. Dorothy Squires is a name which also belongs to a famous Welsh singer who lived in the same era. Dorothy also had two daughters and only granddaughters so it was difficult to find records as their names had changed with marriage. I started looking through birth and death records, hoping to make a connection as I had the birth date and first name of one of Dorothy’s great granddaughters. I finally made contact through Facebook. Hayley Brown provided me with photographs of her great grandmother and I provided her with a transcribed copy of the memoir as well as a scanned copy of the original. I found this the most rewarding part of the project, not only because it was successful but because it connected Hayley with Great Grandmother. She had never read the memoir, so seeing it would have given her a deeper insight into how Dorothy felt about her birth, the love she had for her and how proud she was of her.

Researching Dorothy’s memoir has not only been informative but it has been thoroughly enjoyable. As part of the project I transcribed Dorothy’s memoir. At over 20,000 words this was time consuming but very rewarding. I could see from the change in handwriting Dorothy’s fragile mental state, after losing her youngest daughter. I felt it gave me a deeper connection and understanding of Dorothy and as i was typing her words made me feel so much empathy for her. This empathy i developed made me want to produce the best blog posts to put across Dorothy’s vibrant and loving nature, which was a privilege and i hope i succeeded in doing so.

Though my experiences in life are different to Dorothy’s it has made me realise that i take much of my life for granted. I have never had to experience total war, extreme unemployment and the loss of immediate family. The one thing that i feel i will take from Dorothy’s experiences is my generations access to education. We are lucky that we have the choice to further our education when less than one hundred years ago the chance to progress into higher education was not there.

I just want to take this opportunity to say a big thank you to everyone involved in this project and to Dorothy’s family who encouraged this memoir and allowed us to enjoy getting to know her.

I will finish by confirming Dorothy’s statement, “I do hope who ever reads it will amuse them for a few moments”. Not only has it amused me, it has made me cry, laugh and grow and everlasting respect for Mrs Dorothy Squires.


2:735 SQUIRES, Dorothy, Untitled, MS, pp. 142 (c. 18,000 words). Brunel University Library.

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