Norah Brain (1907-1987): Reading & Writing – Writing Lives

Norah Brain (1907-1987): Reading & Writing

Many working-class autobiographers mention their love of reading and texts they read, partly to establish their commitment to the pursuit of learning . Norah’s memoir, by contrast, does not mention her experience of reading and nor does it go into detail about her education. In later life Norah must have read, probably for leisure, since she ends the memoir with her own poem.  But, during her childhood, it is doubtful that she will have had much opportunity to read outside of school, growing up in a large, impoverished family.  For Norah work and family life were her main priorities. She describes when her sister was born and states: ‘I had no feeling one way or another it was just another baby to look after.’ (8) It is unsurprising, therefore, that her childhood memoir does not contain references to reading.

Further Reading: Vincent, David. Bread, Knowledge and Freedom: A Study of Nineteenth-Century
Working-Class Autobiography
. London: Methuen, 1981

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