It is 1937 and a class of 12 and 13 year old girls are writing about their lives: cobbled streets and crowded homes; the Coronation festivities and holidays to Blackpool; laughter and fun alongside poverty and hardship. They are destined for the cotton mill but they dream of being film stars. Their essays are collected by their teacher and sent to the social research organisation Mass Observation. In this session, we will reflect on the various ways in which we have used these girls’ writings. Initially we only felt comfortable using them as the basis for traditional academic essays, but over time we developed more imaginative ways of using them ways to use them. This culminated in our trade book, Class of ’37, which plays with different voices and forms.
Hester Barron is Professor of Modern History at the University of Sussex. She writes about working-class life, childhood, schooling and education.
Claire Langhamer is Professor of Modern History at the University of London and Director of the Institute of Historical Research. She works on ordinary people’s feelings and experiences.
Venue: Essex Business School, Lecture Theatre 2.2, University of Essex Colchester Campus Wivenhoe Park Colchester CO4 3SQ