Researching Writing Lives (Susan Silvester 1878-1968)

I’d like to think that I have presented Susan Silvester, her family, her lifestyle, and Minworth as truthfully and respectfully as I could have, with the resources available to me. Not only because Susan’s memoir is essentially a historical artifact but also because it holds so much emotional weight and sentimental value. I’d also like to think that in giving a new lease life I have done my part in shedding light onto a sometimes overlooked part of history, or rather, helped in creating a better understanding of this part of history.

On a more personal note, I feel that what I have been able to take away from this is an enhanced understanding and appreciation for the communities like Susan’s that formed the backbone of what Britain is today. The unflinching Victorian values of cooperation, hard work and respect ring true in a lot of people and families I know. Even though I did not fully know what ‘In a World that has Gone’ was going to be when I chose it as my memoir to research, I knew I had made a good choice when I read through it in full. Susan’s writing is so colourful and emotionally driven that I feel as though I now have a vivid map of Minworth in my mind. Not to mention the fact that I am sentimentally attached to the places and people in Susan’s memoir, almost as if I grew up alongside her.

I have also found that it is quite satisfying to be able to share my work with an online platform, the knowledge that anyone could read it and take something away from what I have discovered is a nice thought. It has given me the courage and the inspiration to do my own online work in the future.

Finally, I have also learnt what it means to be part of a collaborative research team. Reading what my research partner has found has certainly influenced my own writing for the better, such as how it opened my mind to other perspectives that I could take to explore my own memoir. Having feedback on my work has clearly also been a massive help. It has taught me that I should not hesitate in getting feedback from a peer if it is available to me simply because of how helpful I have found it to be.

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