Marion Owen (b. 1909): Researching Writing Lives

I have always loved reading memoirs with one of my favourite books being Dolly Alderton’s Everything I Know About Love. Reading Marion Owen’s memoir ‘I follow my nose: a potted autobiography’ has only deepened my love for memoirs through her beautifully written autobiography. Her memoir first appealed to me after I read the biographical entry, I found it extremely interesting how she discussed the importance that scent has on memory. I was also incredibly intrigued into her life as an artist as it showed Marion would be a deeply creative person which may be reflected in her writing. After reading Marion’s memoir it is clear that her artistic nature is reflected in her autobiography. She writes with such precision and care about her memories as if she is trying to immortalise every single detail of it.

The Writing Lives research project has been a significant part of my studies at University. I feel a great sense of achievement having been a part of this project and I am glad that I have been able to share Marion’s writing to a wider audience. I think this project is a wonderful way to showcase the work of ordinary people who may not have had a platform otherwise.

Brixton 1909

I have a small amount of experience with blogging as I often try to upload work to my own blog. However, this project has given me a lot of experience as well as some invaluable skills. I have a tendency to ramble within my writing so working on this project has helped me write in a more concise way. My dad has always had an interest in discovering more about my family’s lineage on Ancestry.com but it was not until I used the website for myself that I understood how interesting it can be. I spent hours researching Marion Owen’s name (born Marion Hughes) and it was extremely difficult to find out information about her life. Marion only mentioned a couple of names within her memoir, so it took a lot of work to discover more about her. However, this meant that when I finally found information about her life it was extremely rewarding, and I thoroughly enjoyed learning more about Marion’s life.

One of my favourite passages from Marion’s memoir

Social media has been a large part of my life as it has become the normality for people to have accounts on multiple platforms. The main form of social media I use is Twitter, so I felt most comfortable in using this platform to share my work. With all the negativity that exists on the internet it is easy to forget about all the positive things that happen. I am grateful that this module included the use of social media especially when lockdown started. I enjoyed being able to read the work created by my peers as it felt much more collective than other modules. Before this project I would have never shared my own work on social media whether that be for University or a personal project. However, seeing all the positive responses to the work shared by my peers was an incredibly valuable experience as it showed me that social media can be an effective place to keep in contact and share work.

Whilst Marion grew up in London over one hundred years ago, I felt a deep connection with her through her wonderful writing. I am so thankful for the opportunity to read Marion’s memoir and explore her life. The incredible talent that Marion has for writing means that her words will stay with me for a long time.

  • References 
  • Owen, Marion. ‘I follow my nose: a potted autobiography’ Burnett Archive of Working Class Autobiographies, University of Brunel Library
  • Image References
  • Brixton 1909
  • Accessed 27/05/20

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