Louie Emmeline Ould (C.1907-1991): Life writing, class and identity – Writing Lives

Louie Emmeline Ould (C.1907-1991): Life writing, class and identity

        In relation to Louie Emmeline Ould’s memoir and Reginia Gagnier, who argued that working class autobiographies didn’t fit the classic model for autobiographies. Instead she identified six types of autobiographical models. The autobiographical model that I feel most describes Louie’s memoir is self-examination which translates as no obvious occupational or geographical correlations. By this, I mean there is not much mention in Louie’s memoir concerning class whether it be status, wealth or social there is however self reflection present throughout her memoir that  not so much criticises her life but reflects on it. I therefore think that the model Reginia Gagnier calls self-examination does not completely comply with Louie’s memoir. The narrative model that I would suggest describes Louie’s memoir would be self expressive. By this I mean that, her memoir is introspective and centres on her family and home life; parents, husband, sisters, children and grandchildren. She uses poetry and photographs in order express herself and only briefly mentions work in her family. She touches on her Fathers occupation of being a farmer in the late nineteenth century. From this we can assume Louie came from a lower class family background meaning income was tight, her mother was a stereotypical stay at home mum that was expected in Edwardian times to be the ‘angel of the house.’ [1]

           In Reginia Gagnier’s article she suggests that the model of self examination ‘were written by people with lives of unmitigated misery and hardship, for whom writing is a form, more or less successful, of therapy.’ [2] In relation to Louie’s memoir although her whole life has not been miserable and she is not reflecting on her past in a miserable way her poetry is in a sense her therapy as she finds a way to express her emotions through them. As mentioned earlier in posts her poem ‘Loneliness by a widow’ conveys misery and hardship since the death of her spouse Thomas. ‘Eiking out life I carry on’ and ‘so not lonely but alone’ are the two lines of her poem that convey a mournful and miserable tone.

     As there is not much talk of class in Louie’s memoir I do not think it in any way shapes her identity or shows a true understanding of class. Louie was born before the woman’s liberation movement in the 1960’s had she been born around this time or after I feel her memoir would be somewhat different in terms of work  as the woman’s liberation movement marked a significant change for women and in particular in relation to class.


Echoing feminism in 1960’s


1, Poovey, Mary. Uneven Developments. Chicago: Chicago UP, 1988

2, Gagnier, Reginia. Social atoms: Working class autobiography, subjectivity and gender.’ Victorian Studies, 30.3 (1987) 357


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