Mary Hollinrake (b. 1912): Researching Writing Lives

Overall, my experience on the Writing Lives module has been thoroughly educational and insightful. Considering I had no previous experience in any form of blogging, I was particularly apprehensive about the module, however now it has come to an end, I am very pleased that I picked it. I was also very worried about the responsibility of presenting an individual to the internet who is now not alive to be able to correct any misinterpretation or defend them self. This daunting aspect meant I went into the module sceptical, however as the module progressed and we became familiar with our authors, I found myself comfortable in doing my author justice.

The title and sub-title on page 1 of Mary's memoir
The title and sub-title on page 1 of Mary’s memoir

My author, Mary Hollinrake made her memoir ‘Lancashire Lass’ very readable and enjoyable because of her happy childhood and its light content. I read her 73 page memoir twice in full detail, but I underlined relevant quotes and made references to certain pages relating to the themes during my second read. I found that doing this aided me greatly when it came to writing my blogs each week as I was able to find the appropriate quotes for each post.

By exploring the varied themes in relation to someone who was once alive, it made me very cautious about my chosen words and how Mary would appear to anyone reading my blogs. This essentially made me more aware of my writing style and I was strict on myself to make sure I was not generalising, especially since Mary’s granddaughter (who she refers to on p. 39) may still be alive and could possibly come across the blogs one day.

A few pages of Mary's memoir with my notes and underlining
A few pages of Mary’s memoir with my notes and underlining

I particularly enjoyed how Mary’s memoir spanned from herself as a child to her early twenties when she had finished college and started teaching. I also appreciated how Mary documented her progression into adulthood by gradually shifting how she spent her days as she entered her teenage years. By reading a first-hand account of a woman who would have lived through both wars, it was humbling to see how positive the tone of her memoir was despite coming from a working-class background. It was clear to see that she was very appreciative of her childhood and the people that surrounded her during it, particularly her family who were the main focus of her autobiography.

The social media aspect of the module was also something I enjoyed. I was already on social media, so I knew how to promote my blogs on twitter and also how to promote other students and their posts. Despite knowing how to work social platforms, I was uninformed when it came to how websites work. So from this module, I found that making new posts, editing and making sure the format is presentable are all key aspects which have contributed to my online skills and which may benefit me one day in the future in terms of my career, especially now that the majority of companies have websites and use social media. Alternative skills which I shall take forward with me include researching and picking out the relevant details for each post, which is significant when it comes to blogging. By having my blogs published online, it motivated me to put more effort in my posts each week and to provide the Writing Lives website with a creditable account of a working-class auto-biographer.

Read all of my posts here!

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