Fred Worrall (1890 – 1976): Reading and Writing – Writing Lives

Fred Worrall (1890 – 1976): Reading and Writing

In Fred Worrall’s memoir, he does not talk about reading, either in school or recreationally. However, Fred did in fact read recreationally. In the late 19th and early part of the 20th century, there was an increase in literacy within England, following the introduction of compulsory education in 1870. When Fred was in school, I believe he did read due to reading being compulsary,  and the texts being classical English literature, such as Shakespeare and Charles Dickens. Newspapers began to target working class readers. I believe despite lack of reading evidence, Fred read local newspapers, as newspapers were still the best and only medium to gather national and worldwide news.

The newspapers of the early 20th century contained more than news, including letters from the public, comic strips and general satire. Some papers, such as the Cornhill Magazine, had writers and stories which would be published weekly, such as Thomas Hardy’s Far From the Madding Crowd, a trend still active within the early 20th century, therefore I believe Fred did in fact read recreationally, his favourite source of reading was the newspaper and monthly magazines. Newspapers and magazines would appeal to Fred, as he seemed to be a person who liked the real; he was interested in how other people lived their lives. The magazines would interest Fred as the writers of the articles and stories all seemed to be from a working class background, therefore, for Fred, he would be able to relate to the authors and their stories, and he would be able to enjoy them more.

Later in his life it is likely Fred favoured listening to the radio and watching television over reading. At the end of the memoir, Fred writes “I have a comfortable home and a colour television.” (P. 6) As for many people in the latter half of the 20th century, the television became part of Fred’s everyday life. Fred seems to reflect on having a colour television because unlike a newspaper, Fred can access it whenever he wants, and with the television there is an influx of new programmes he would have had access to, whereas newspapers became old as new copies were produced. Despite this, I believe Fred still read newspapers and magazines, as despite the new technology, it seems he would stick to what he knows, and what is easier to take in.


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