As my time on the Writing Lives module draws to an end, I feel it is time to reflect upon what I have learnt and the skills I have gained. Blogging as a literary style, has always been something of great interest to me as I feel it puts creativity and independence paramount. The Writing Lives module also went hand in hand with another interest of mine which is history, I was excited by the prospect of being able to develop not only a better blogging technique but also to contribute to public history. When we were provided with the list of potential autobiographers from the Burnett archive I was overwhelmed by the wide selection of authors we could choose from, however Kathleen’s memoir stood out to me due to its uniqueness.
Kathleen’s memoir and life is extremely different to her fellow Writing Lives autobiographers and this is something I wanted to present throughout my blogs. The struggles and hardships that faced many of the other authors on the module were non-existent in Kathleen’s life. Compared to her fellow autobiographers Kathleen experienced a rich, varied and somewhat privilege childhood through her father’s army occupation. She was able to travel to many countries even now we could only dream of and it is this first-hand experience and Kathleen’s cultural appreciation that drew me to her memoir. Kathleen focuses solely on her childhood throughout her memoir which I felt would create difficulty for me in creating eight different thematic blogs, however the intricate detail Kathleen uses to describe her childhood and the uniqueness of her upbringing provided me with a wide selection of scope to discuss. At a time when the negative effects of war were widely felt Kathleen paints a positive image of the military and omits any writing on the devastation she felt in the Second World War as she laments her childhood, something I found interesting as many of her fellow authors do not shy away from presenting the negative effects both World Wars had on their lives. Kathleen’s memoir also demonstrates the impact losing a parent in childhood has on a child as she concludes her memoir as her father suddenly dies. Kathleen’s life was so varied and unusual I cannot help but wish that she included her adulthood and later years in her memoir as I felt completely involved in her story and did not want it to end.
Kathleen omits much of her genealogy from her memoir such as her place of birth, birthday and mother and father’s first name from her memoir which prevented me from creating her family tree, something I wanted to do when we first embarked on the project. I was however able to find Kathleen on the Find My Past website upon discovering her childhood surname and mother’s maiden name, but I was unable to attain details of her death or marriage which I had hoped for.
The use of social media has been invaluable in the success of this module I felt that the use of Twitter allowed support amongst the class as we read one another’s blogs. It has been fascinating throughout to follow not only Kathleen’s memoir but also fellow Writing Lives autobiographers through the regular posting on Twitter of new blogs. Throughout the module I worked closely with a small group as we proof read one another’s blogs this is something I cannot appreciate enough as it allowed me to perfect my blogging technique and outline areas of improvement.
The Writing Lives project has been fascinating throughout and I feel as a group we have all played a part in creating public history as we detail the unique and exciting lives of working-class people and their somewhat forgotten history.