Hidden Lives: A Family Memoir

Author(s): Margaret Forster


Over and over again we get told stories by our parents and grandparents, and sometimes, if these stories are treated seriously and checked, that is all they turn out to be - stories, unsubstantiated and often downright contradicted by the actual evidence in records. But sometimes beneath the stories lurks the history of more than an ordinary person. Sometimes, their story is the story of thousands ....' Margaret Forster's grandmother, Margaret Ann, died in 1936, taking many secrets to her grave. Not least was how and where she had spent the first twenty-three years of her life, which remained shrouded in mystery. What had happened then that connected her with the elegant woman in black who had paid her a mysterious and upsetting visit shortly before her death? After the funeral, there was a knock on the door. Outside stood an unknown woman claiming to be her daughter, inquiring whether anything had been left to her in the will.

These stories surrounding Margaret Forster's grandmother attained the status of family myth and in HIDDEN LIVES she looks at where the truth might lie. Why was this daughter never mentioned? How had she lived so long around the corner without acknowledgement? And why? The search for answers took Margaret on a journey into her family's past. She not only examines her grandmother's life but also the lives of her mother, Lilian, and of herself, three generations of women born and brought up in Carlisle but with radically differing circumstances and opportunities.

Margaret Ann was a domestic servant before she married a butcher and settled down to have a family. Their eldest daughter, Lily, was a bright child able to go to the Higher Grade School and get a good job as a clerk but when she married she was obliged to relinquish her career and settle down to family life. When her daughter Margaret's time came, she was able to take advantage of the changing times, to go to High School, to Oxford University and to move away from Carlisle to establish her writing career and family in the south. Three different women, three very different lives.

An enthralling piece of detective work, Hidden Lives is evidence of how ordinary women lead extraordinary lives. A personal document, it also acts as a rich and fascinating commentary on how women's lives have changed over the last century.

1996. A very good copy.


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Product Information

General Fields

  • : 9780140239829
  • : penguin
  • : penguin
  • : 0.244
  • : July 1996
  • : 196mm X 132mm X 24mm
  • : United Kingdom
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : 8pp b&w photographs
  • : 320
  • : 823.914
  • : Paperback
  • : Margaret Forster