E.Robinson (b.1894): Reading & Writing – Writing Lives

E.Robinson (b.1894): Reading & Writing

Throughout E. Robinson’s memoirs I Remember, there is a distinct lack of content based around reading, in both social and academic contexts. Robinson states within the text that he never saw himself as a scholar during his youthful years at school and the sessions he attended at church on a Sunday afternoon, and never speaks in depth about texts he read, apart from the bible.

Robert Browning (b. 1812 - d.1889)
Robert Browning (b. 1812 – d.1889)

However, he does tell of how he was chosen to represent and compete for Flint Street School, where he had to read Robert Browning’s classic poem The Laboratory. Robinson does not write with great interest about the poem, as he felt he did not fully understand the meaning of it. He states how he enjoyed reading the poem out, yet only as he took pleasure from the competitive aspect, thus creating no indication that Robert Browning was influential in Robinson’s writing.  However, Browning was born in Camberwell, South London, which was where Robinson himself was originally from. Browning’s local heritage of the area could be the reason why the Flint Street School chose his work for Robinson to read out.

Robinson also never discusses any form of literary text he read whilst under employment at the Post Office, or any form of writing he read during his time in the Armed Forces. Originally, I believed reading would have been a prominent social activity during the turn of the 19th Century, due to there been no such leisurely items as televisions or radios. Although Robinson never considered himself as an academic, it may have been expected for him to undertake some  form of literary readings, which may have influenced his memoirs.

During his time working for the Post Office, Robinson was constantly inundated with messages, delegating tasks to him which need to be completed. Within his autobiography, Robinson talks more about the content of these letters than any literature he read. He describes how the letters were very formal, with a strong tone of authority. I believe that it is these letters which have shaped Robinson’s writing. He never dwells on subjects that do not matter but he describes the important aspects of his life, much like the letters he received whilst at work, stating the important tasks.

It is obvious that his time in the Army has effect his writing style. Robinson tells of how received many informative notes during his service period, and it can be said that these messages match the tone of his autobiography. His writing lacks any form of enthusiastic emphasis on achievements within his life, so it may be due to his lack of exposure his writing standard has not been able to advance.

An author which is discussed in Robinson’s autobiography is Robert Blatchford, telling of how his father was given examples of Blatchford’s work whilst at church. Blatchford was known as a socialist campaigner in the late 19th and early 20th century, however he also had very strong atheist views.  With Blatchford’s views of atheism, it is highly strange how Robinson’s father was recommended his work by a fellow church goer.

Robert Blatchford (b.1851 - d.1943)
Robert Blatchford (b.1851 – d.1943)


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