Verbena Daphne Brighton (B. 1915): Home & Family

Brighton’s memoir is focused on her home and family life. She includes a considerable amount of detail about her family members and their roles in their home. However, Brighton avoids commenting on their relationships amongst each other. I don’t believe that this suggests that her relationships were a topic that she wanted to avoid, but perhaps society seventy years ago did not show as much love and affection as they do now? I believe this to be true as throughout her memoir Brighton reflects on her childhood as the epitome of pleasant.Verbena Brighton was the youngest daughter of a family of twelve with a mother and father, she explained;

“Much older than mother, he had sat her on his knee as a child.” (P. 7, Nuts ‘n May)

 In her published memoir Nuts ‘n May she has used pictures of her siblings to illustrate her story.

Brighton’s third chapter of her memoir is labelled: “A bit about Father” and the forth chapter “Father’s ponies.” She illustrates this chapter with a picture of her father wearing a flat cap and another photograph of her father taken in his cart being lead by his horse “Fanny.”

Brighton describes family as a key aspect in her home, as she writes that in the ‘Best Room’ pictures of family members adorned the walls. In particular, a large coloured picture of her brother Joe who had just joined HMS Ganges and another picture of the members of his ship. Brighton describes her father’s pride of his son:

“Thass my boy Joe what d’ye think o him” (P. 2 Nuts ‘n May)

Brighton describes that her father was not a religious man, however through reading her memoir religion is a significant part of her life.Brighton dedicates her weekends to the Church and she explains in her memoir that she does this with the company of her siblings. Brighton includes extracts from religious hymns sang in Church in her memoir, such as:

Yea we know it, yet we raise

Songs of thankfulness and praise.

He is gone but not before

all his earthly work is o’er.

Alleluia.” (P.)

Baking is a favourite hobby of Brighton’s at home as she describes her excitement for ‘baking days’ with her mother and sisters. She explains how she would wake up early and spend the day at home baking. Women baking at home is recreational to Brighton as well as the traditional role of women, as we are told that her father works but her mother doesn’t. Brighton opens her memoir explaining that she would help with housework and beat the carpet rugs in the garden with her mother. Although Brighton doesn’t mention her mothers job, we are well aware that she is a housewife, giving Verbena and her sisters chores to do too.

Verbena describes her mother in an adorable manner as she explains:

“Mother would come along and recite a poem which we always enjoyed. my very favourite being:-

Merrily, danced the quaker’s wife and merrily danced the quaker” (P. 17 Nuts ‘n May)

The majority of her memoir is littered with religious references throughout, giving an insight to the importance of religion in her home life.

Pictures: Brighton, Verbena Nuts ‘n May (Brighton: Norfolk) 1990

Sisters Hazel and Jasmine pictured.
Sisters Hazel and Jasmine pictured.

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