Stanley Rice (1905-1981): Researching Writing Lives

The collaborative research project on Working-class Lives has been of historical significance and value. The writers whom we have looked at over the past months have brought to life what it was like living through World War One and/or World War Two, what it felt like to be working-class during these specific era’s and the struggles they faced. It was enjoyable and thrilling to read a first-hand account of a working-class man’s life endured in the beginning of the 20th century, that has been hidden away in an archive. I feel proud to have been a part of revealing this information in my blog, for the general public to also enjoy.

Each blog task has given me a greater understanding on different aspects of Stanley Rice’s life, which I have found to be intriguing. These include habits Rice had as a child, that are similar to most of the working-class autobiographies that we have been focusing on. It has been a different but great learning experience, having to use a different tone than a usual essayistic one, in my blogs. I have written a blog before, when I undertook the Working in the USA module in my second year of University, but this was personal, about my own experiences of travelling. It is difficult writing on behalf of someone else, as I can only hope that I have done my author justice. Also, as I am writing to an audience which will include academics, historians and anyone generally interested in working-class life, it has been important to use a particular style of language, that is universal. What helped with finding the correct language and tone was copy-editing our work within our small research group, week by week, and helping each other refine and adjust our blogs as we went along. I have enjoyed being able to continually change my work as the weeks have progressed, and as I have built on my research; with assignments I only have one chance to submit.

Most important of all was obtaining correct historical data from the period my author lived in. As with autobiography, there is always the problem of truthfulness, which my author clearly states at the end where he says ‘memory can play so many tricks, but I sincerely hope I have not incorrectly dated any incident, or placed the sequence of happenings out of order, or been unfair to any one individual. Everything in the foregoing is truly as my memory recalls it.’ (68). It can only be assumed that what he describes is what actually happened. As he is writing in old age and recalling memories from over fifty years ago, he understands that he can only be forgiven if anything is out of sequence, but he has tried to be as accurate as possible. It was in my best interest to check over dates and incidents, to make sure that what I was also producing in my work was correct and complied with his words.

This blogging experience has helped me with my research skills, as I have become aware of websites that I have never used before. These include local history sites, where I have found images of London from 1911, where Rice went to school and grew up. I also used the Ancestry website, researching the census for Stanley Rice from 1911. On this website I found out his mother and father’s name, a sister he does not mention in his autobiography and also the date of his death, which was sad to know that he died only a few years after completing his memoir. I have also found great value and significance in using social media for promotional use; also to see how fellow students are progressing with their research and reading their updates. It is an easy and helpful way to get in touch with other historians and for them to see our tweets and posts about the great work being done on the Writing Lives website.

I have thoroughly valued working on this collaborative project, from being in the classroom and interacting with other students, to doing my own research and visiting the Imperial War Museum in Salford on Remembrance Day. This research will definitely stand me in good stead for the future, for almost any career. To say that I have published work available online for the public to see is a proud achievement for me.

My research group at the Imperial War Museum in Salford, Manchester: (From left to right) Rebecca Corkill, Megan Ainsworth, Matthew Smith & myself.
My research group at the Imperial War Museum in Salford, Manchester: (From left to right) Rebecca Corkill, Megan Ainsworth, Matthew Smith & myself.

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