It took a lot of thinking to decide what type of author I wanted to explore. At one point, I was considering something who was part of a very early Labour Party. What made me decide on William Wright was his title ‘From Chimney-Boy to Councillor’. To me, it has a connotation of hope. It tells a story in five words: you can prosper.
One of the most interesting parts about learning about William was also learning about the era that he grew up in. He lived through the transition of the Victorian era and the Edwardian era. This helped when looking for images, secondary readings. Despite King Edward VII being on the thrown for around ten years, there were enough resources out there solely focusing on the culture and attitudes during his reign.
This leads me to what I find most valuable about Writing Lives: the research. It is a mix of what is available academically, but what is also available on the internet. Even something simple as using an inflation calculator was something that I valued. If this was for an academic paper, I would feel less confident referencing the inflation calculator. However, since this is online I could post a link to it and let my readers access it themselves if they wanted to, since it is an easy and fun way to get to grips with how different William Wright’s time was.
With current times focusing on social media and online presence, it only makes sense that academic writing can present itself on a public website, where students can collaborate and read one another’s work. Not only is it interesting, it is a learning experience. If I struggled with an image, I would look at similar themed posts and see what images were used there to give me more ideas. If I saw a point that I liked, I would consider it for William’s life, too.
For Writing Lives, I worked with Keisha Callaghan. Keisha’s criticisms were always honest and fair. Even if there was a point or two that I did not agree with, it allowed me to make independent choices – which is just as important when responding to criticisms. Keisha was a huge help and influence to my writing. She was quick to respond to questions, quick to read my posts and was always kind by encouraging me about the quality of my work.
This kindness is shown through other classmates. On social media, more specifically on Twitter, there is a huge sense of community. Compared to last year’s Prison Voices, I believe I came out of my shell more with social media. I would even share some people’s work on my personal Twitter, because I genuinely wanted as many people to read them. I enjoyed looking at other people’s tweets, seeing what they did to engage with their followers, and actually taking part in some discussions. At one point, @jennyLJMU tweeted about word that was difficult to read, which gave me the opportunity to reply with information about names ending in ‘ke’.
What made Writing Lives so unique to me was William’s actual memoir. The second half of it was not readily available, where we found that the only known copy of his full memoir was in the British Library.
While this did halt how much reading and research I could do at first, waiting for the second half of the memoir was beneficial. I was able to provide the details necessary to help inform people about William’s successful life.
Wright, William. ‘From chimney-boy to councillor – The Story of my Life’. See John Burnett, David Vincent, David Mayall. The Autobiography of the working class; an annotated critical bibliography. Vol. 1 1790-1900. 1st Pub. 1984. Item: 777.
The Inflation Calculator, found here.
My tweet to Jenny, found here.