Annie Lord (b.1899): Life and Labour – Part One – Writing Lives

Annie Lord (b.1899): Life and Labour – Part One

“…my first job was in service 10/- a week to start up at six in the morning and on the go [un]till ten at night sometimes Later, I use[d] to have to help the family at home…” 

Lord, p: 1
Hornsey, Middlesex. Picture take, 1865

Annie loved to work. By the time she had turned fourteen years old, she had left school in hopes of finding a job. There were two primary reasons for her doing this. Firstly, as a result of being born deaf in one ear, Annie severely struggled to learn and benefit within the school system and secondly, Annie was eager to go and earn a wage, in order to help her mother at home.

Annie states that her very first job was; “in service” (Lord, p: 1). Despite the long hours and less than desirable wage, Annie was still willing to work hard: “10/- [10 shillings] a week to start up at six in the morning and on the go till ten at night sometimes Later” (Lord, p: 1). Yet Annie enjoyed the independence that working life gave her. She recognises that she needs to work, in order to earn a regular and reliable income, as well as being able to help her mother at home by giving her; “5/-” (Lord, p: 1) from her weekly wages. Her whole view on working life, particularly as a woman, is unusual and refreshing, which is reflected through her memoir and style of writing.

Throughout her memoir, Annie highlights that unfortunately, many jobs she lost; “… owing to de[a]fness…” (Lord, p: 2). However, the jobs that she was able to sustain, she loved, “I also worked for the Hornsey gas company in that war on the sulphure plants out in the open turning them over in all Weathers singing all the time and Happy…” (Lord, p: 2). This is highlighted further when she states; “… But the Best job I had was when the 1914 soldiers use[d] to line up for there dinners in the High street Hornsey from the drilly Hall…” (Lord, p: 2). Evidentially, Annie enjoyed interacting with people throughout her job, this was something she had very little opportunity to do once she was married, due to her jealous and controlling husband. As well as this, it is also important to note that the only time Annie gives any specific details, like Hornsey, the city she grew up in, is when she is referring to her working life. Annie remembers the exact name of the company she worked for and detailed memories of that place, that suggests a positive and emotional connection between Annie and Hornsey. This further highlights just how important working was to her, as well as how much she loved to do it.

Hornsey, Middlesex. Picture taken in 1965.

In conclusion, Annie was happy and contented throughout the majority of her working life. Despite losing numerous jobs due to her disability, her love and need to work did not falter, as Annie persevered until she found other jobs and employers whom were prepared to let her work. During my next blog post, I will be considering the ways in which Annie’s opinions towards work, shifted slightly when she became the primary wage earner during her married life.

Works Cited:

Lord, Annie. ‘My Life,’ Burnett Archive of Working Class Autobiographies, University of Brunel Library, Special Collection Library, 2:486.

Rose Johnathan. (1992). Journal of the History of Ideas. Rereading the English Common Reader: A Preface to a History of Audiences. 53 (1), 47-70.

Savage, Mike. (2015). Social Class in the 21st Century. London: Penguin. 336.

Images Used:

Hornsey, fountain image. From, Francis Firth: 

Hornsey, tree image. From, Francis Firth: 

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