Fred Worrall (1890 – 1976): Home and Family – Writing Lives

Fred Worrall (1890 – 1976): Home and Family

20th Century Working Class Family

When reading Fred’s memoir, I believe he was a devout family man, both to his biological family and the family he started after the war. Although he does not go into great detail about his family, he does mention them extensively at the beginning of his memoir.

At the beginning of his memoir, we find out that Fred was part of a large family, common within the 19th and 20th centuries. Fred is “The third of seven brothers and sisters.” (P. 1) At the time of writing, Fred has only two living siblings left; one sister, and one brother who lost his left arm in 1914 during the beginning of World War One. We also find out the common tragedy which occured during the 19th and 20th centuries, as we find out in the opening paragraph that despite being in a large family, Fred experience loss at an early age, due to two siblings dying in infancy, the cause unknown, although it was common for children to die young, there being a lack of medicinal care and general health checks in this period of time. The medicine that was on offer was either expensive or ineffective, showing how tragic it was to live at this time if you were terminally ill. Despite the tragedy endured, Fred and his siblings remained positive and strong in their lives, showing that for a large family, there were close knit and seemed to stick together, as Fred writes “We were a sturdy bunch on the whole.” (P. 1)

1940s English Suburbia

Although Fred talks of his admiration for his siblings, he does not make mention of meeting up with them in his later life, or even playing games with them. It seems that despite sticking through hard times, Fred did not have time to socialise and have fulfilling relationships with his siblings, as he was in school and then immediately went into the working world after finishing his education.

As well as showing admiration for his siblings, Fred does seem to love and admire his parents. His parents were both from a lower working class background. His father worked in the bleach works, “From 6.A.M. to 5.P.M.,” (P. 1) Whereas his mother seems not to have been in paid work, but had lived at home and cared for the children. Much like his siblings, Fred does not give much information about his mother and father, but he holds them in high regard. Fred saw his father as a good father because he worked hard in a dangerous job and was active in raising his family. He was “The kindest of men and the best of fathers.” (P. 1) Fred also implies that his father sacrificed his health to support his family, “My father was a very sick man and in his later years he developed chronic Asthma which was frightful,” (P. 1) he tells us an illness that was probably caused by his work in the bleach works.Fred states that his mother “Was a lovely robust woman, and did a wonderful job bringing up the children.” (P. 1) Although he does not go into detail, this sentence strongly suggests that Fred’s mother worked as hard as his father to bring up the family.

Fred got married while on leave during the war. After the war he and his wife managed to get an affordable home to live in. They had one child together, who was disabled, though he does not state the year she was born. Fred’s wife died in 1963 and his daughter died in July 1972, but he does not list the causes. However, despite this lack of information about his family, Fred must have held them in high regard, as he seemed like a man who was thankful of what he had and who he knew.

Though Fred was clearly attached to his family, it is striking that he does not mention relative’s names, even those of his wife and daughter. This suggests that Fred was writing for himself and not for a public readership. He had no need to include the names of the people he loved.

Fred does not talk about his own house until the end of his memoir, where he writes “I have a comfortable home and colour television, a home-help and enough money to see me through.” (P. 6) This was the house he moved into with his wife after the war. Although he does not describe it in detail, it is apparent Fred appreciates his home life and is content with what he has. At the end of his life, Fred seems to have taken pride in the comfortable and secure home life, had had been able to build with his wife and reflected on the contrast between his own good fortune and the struggle his parents had led in providing for and protecting their family.

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