Shadows of the Workhouse: The Drama of Life in Postwar London

Shadows of the Workhouse: The Drama of Life in Postwar London

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By (author) Jennifer Worth

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In this follow up to CALL THE MIDWIFE, Jennifer Worth, a midwife working in the docklands area of East London in the 1950s tells more stories about the people she encountered. There's Jane, who cleaned and generally helped out at Nonnatus House - she was taken to the workhouse as a baby and was allegedly the illegitimate daughter of an aristocrat. Peggy and Frank's parents both died within six months of one another and the children were left destitute. At the time, there was no other option for them but the workhouse. The Reverend Thornton-Appleby-Thorton, a missionary in Africa, visits the Nonnatus nuns and Sister Julienne acts as matchmaker. And Sister Monica Joan, the eccentric ninety-year-old nun, is accused of shoplifting some small items from the local market. She is let off with a warning, but then Jennifer finds stolen jewels from Hatton Garden in the nun's room. These stories give a fascinating insight into the resilience and spirit that enabled ordinary people to overcome their difficulties.

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Author information

Jennifer Worth trained as a nurse at the Royal Berkshire Hospital, Reading, and was later ward sister at the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Hospital in London, then the Marie Curie Hospital, also in London. Music had always been her passion, and in 1973 she left nursing in order to study music intensively, teaching piano and singing for about twenty-five years. Jennifer died in May 2011 after a short illness, leaving her husband Philip, two daughters and three grandchildren. Her books have all been bestsellers.

Back cover copy

When Jennifer Worth became a midwife in the 1950s, she moved to an East End where many lives were touched by the shadow of the workhouse. For although the institutions were officially abolished in 1930, in reality many did not close until several decades later. In the follow-up to her bestselling Call the Midwife, Jennifer Worth tells the true stories of the people she met. There's Oeggy and Frank, who were separated in the workhouse when their parents died - until Frank's strength and determination enabled him to make a home for them both. Jane was a bright, lively child, whose spirit was broken by cruelty, until she found kindness and love later in life. Then there is the matchmaking nun, Sister Julienne, and Sister Monica Joan, who ends up in the High Court . . . PHOENIX NON-FICTION / MEMOIR