Jack William Jones: Researching Writing Lives

According to David Vincent in his journal Love and Death and the Nineteenth-Century Working Class the ‘poverty and unreliability of much of the available literary material’ [1] in the early 20th Century resulted in a lack of knowledge of  the situation of functioning working class family. Vincent states that the central question facing the historian of the working-class family is ‘how its reproductive functions, marriage and the raising of children, meshed with its productive functions, its role as the basic unit for acquiring and consuming the means of existence’, all things that I found can be identified and explored through the exploration of the working class memoir.

Working on the memoir of Jack William Jones throughout my final year at university has given me so much opportunity to explore a subject that i have a keen interest in, he role of the working class. I am also very interested in politics and before reading his memoir, I am ashamed to say, I knew very little about the politics surrounding the Trade Union and the Industrial Revelation of Britain, demonstrating that we all have a lot to learn from the past of these amazing people writing the memoirs stored at the Burnett Archive of Working-Class Autobiographies.

I had originally chosen the module based on the assumption that we would be analyzing literature written about the lives on the working-classes and writing critical analysis essays like every other module. However, I was pleasantly surprised to immediately notice that this was not like other modules and in fact, would prove to be quite a refreshing change from the assignment structure of other modules. It also came to my attention that this Writing Lives module became almost stress free, a big relief in my final year, as the blogging style of submission created a freedom to work on some posts longer than others and submit them when i felt they were ready, a luxury not always available in an English degree.

Before taking this module, I had avoided the use of twitter due to my own general lack of knowledge on that particular social media platform. The blogging aspect of the Writing Lives module changed all of this for me, it demonstrated to me how social media can be very beneficial and educational something that had not been brought to my attention before now. I do feel that i will continue to use twitter on a literary basis and it is a very good way to reachout to other intellectuals and share great ideas.


At the beginning of the module i had some difficulty choosing the author that I wanted to research as I wanted a blog that was big enough to provide me with blog content for the duration of the module, yet would still remain interesting when I returned to it every week. I found this with the memoir of Jack William Jones. Every week I somehow managed to learn something new and fascinating about him from his 300+ page memoir, I even gained the opportunity to learn all about other interesting people in the political world, some if which Jack dedicated entire sections of his writing to. With his memoir, Jack provided several editions of a newspaper throughout a political time, something that no other author in the module, that I am aware of, provided. Actually being able to read the headlines of the Busman’s Punch in 1926 allowed be to understand more fully the way that people thought, felt and reacted to the movement of the times back in the early 20th Century.

In reflection, the module has been thoroughly enjoyable and being able to actually see the high standard of work provided by my peers had been a very good motivational drive for me to ensure that my work is the best it possibly can be. If I had of known what an amazing choice of module this would be, I would have chosen other modules like this in the previous years of my degree. I have learnt so much about the working class and I feel that I can take something away from this module with me into any other aspects of education I may peruse.


Works Cited

[1]Vincent, David. Love and Death in the Nineteenth- Century Working-Class. Social History, 5.2, 1980. 223-247. 



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