Have we gone too far with ‘scholarising’ childhood in the modern world? My new book, Visionary Women and Visible Childhoods, England 1900-1920: Childhood and the Women’s Movement, explores children’s experiences of home and school during the early Twentieth Century. I used people’s memoirs about their childhoods, written many years later, in my research.
I chose people who had attended the elementary schools, which were set up to cater for the poorest children. The memoirs suggest strongly that children of the time felt very strong attachment to their homes, and especially to their mothers, who worked so hard to keep the family afloat. People describe the sheer effort of wash-day, the endless toil of keeping the tiny home clean and tidy, the battle to provide enough food for everyone, given that a man’s wages were not enough to keep everyone alive, and that mothers too worked, at home and in the neighbourhood, to make a few extra pennies each week.
Accordingly, writers of memoirs recall feeling very strong attachment to their home, and very strong feeling of responsibility (more…)