Leonard Ellisdon (1885-1968): An Introduction – Writing Lives

Leonard Ellisdon (1885-1968): An Introduction


Autobiography: Introducing Author



In Brixton on the 31st of January 1885 Leonard W. Ellisdon was born to a compositor of a father and a mother who ran a tobacconist’s shop. Born one out of eight children Ellisdon received a good education and attending school from the age of five to fourteen. He then was to search for his first of  many jobs and worked as an office boy. However despite Ellisdons underprivileged background he became what you would call an example of socially mobility and worked his way up in his last job from accountant to co-director.  Living in London for all his life Ellisdon was happily married with four children. He was a lover of choir music and attended church and there events every week. His passions were cut short by his wife’s diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease where he had take care of her full time, until she passed away. Not short after Ellisdon himself had a stroke causing his life to standstill until he died in 1968.

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Leonard W. Ellisdon memoir begins as a series of shorter stories, memories and anecdotes and caught my eye for his humorous prose roughly in the year 1958. Typed up, with slight edits, Ellisdon’s autobiographical memories are linked together in a careful and chronological way, each one heart-warming and easy  to relate to any audience. His writing style is descriptive and narrative, describing all the events that stick out in his life. Ellsidon makes sure the reader know he has an excuse for writing his autobiography, implying his insecurity for his writing ability, this shows in his work throughout. All the short stories that Ellisdon writes are mainly anecdotal and he brings his work alive with his dry whit and excellent sense of humor, making Ellisdon’s character lovable and an attractive narrator.

Throughout Ellisdons autobiography there is a wide selection of topics he likes to relay upon the reader. He mentions the time he enjoyed or what he didn’t enjoy referring to his hot headed temper and the fights he got himself in to which carried on throughout the rest of his life. Time he spent looking for a job, working and loosing his jobs stand out and sculptured his life in many ways. Children and Family are not mentioned as one whole short story but always mentioned fondly in the memories he had. Ellisdons’s interests were quite few, cycling and music were some but his love of choir singing is a major theme all the way through his autobiography.

Ellisdon’s story is also a moving one, affected by a serious stroke that had restricted his mobility. He still tries to finds the will and determination to start something he can do even though he has lost the power to carry out basic daily practices and routines. Ellisdon comes across as an inspiring character throughout the memoirs. He loved to attend choir practice which after the stroke was no longer possible. There had been many things taken away from Ellisdon which before had been taken for granted, but still he finds time to laugh and also to encourage others to do what he has done with the hand he has been dealt.

I find strength in his writing, in the fact that he can write so happily and humorously even though he has been drawn a bad hand, and now isn’t able to do or enjoy the thing he loves. I think this autobiography will inspire other people with


 disabilities that are unsure they are capable or don’t have the right skills to produce a piece of writing, because of their incapacity. Not only do people of the same disposition find Ellisdon’s writing interesting but other Scholars such as John Burnett who wrote Destiny Obscure: Autobiographies of Childhood, Education, and Family from the 1820’s to the 1920’s, had written about Ellisdon in his own works more than once. Ellisdon states in his preface he would just be happy and content to put a smile on someone’s face that has been through or had been placed in a similar situation as he.

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