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Strong Women

Great-Grandpa’s Airship

I recently watched the Channel 4 documentary on the crash of the Hindenburg and thought it might be interesting to record my great-grandfather’s role in the development of airships during the First World War. Growing up the stories I heard about Alfred John Liversedge (AJL) from my great-aunts, his daughters, all seemed to describe an … Continue reading »

Categories: Journeys, Strong Women | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

From a mother to her loving baby child

When my great great-grandmother Sarah Brittain wrote the following her poem to her loving baby child in May 1883, Mother’s Day was Mothering Sunday.  This was Laetare or mid Lent Sunday, the fourth Sunday in Lent, when the Pope blesses the golden rose and children feast on simnel cakes[1].  When I was growing up I … Continue reading »

Categories: Journeys, Strong Women | Tags: , | 1 Comment

Love and Duty

Love and duty.  These two concepts are often regarded as completely different where relationships are concerned.  Depending on whether someone originates from an eastern or a western culture, our idea of relationships, and marriage in particular, is largely influenced by our parents, families and society.   Among western cultures, we tend to “choose” our partners and … Continue reading »

Categories: How we write, Journeys, Strong Women | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

The engagement

She was at home in the village, knitting by the light of the oil lamp when her father came home from the fields. Her mother was at the opposite end of the kitchen nursing the youngest child. He took off his hat and coat. As he sat down he spoke to her, ‘There is a … Continue reading »

Categories: Strong Women, World War 2 | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

A romantic journey

It is 1919, the ‘war to end all wars’ has been over for just under a year, and a young woman of 28 is embarking on a journey to foreign parts.  She is my grandmother, Margery Tate, who is going out to Egypt to marry her fiancé of a few months standing, Charles Jennings.  He … Continue reading »

Categories: Journeys, Strong Women | Tags: | 2 Comments

Buon Natale!

I have really enjoyed learning about the Christmas traditions of southern Italian village where my family comes from.  While I am sure they looked different at the time of my great grandmother, today it looks like this. Families celebrate on Christmas eve with a meal being the main event. Over the course of the evening … Continue reading »

Categories: Festivals and Customs, Strong Women | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Writing about the pre-Facebook generation

Not many people in my family know that I am doing this project. I safely post this statement to the internet, knowing that that most of them don’t speak English. Writing about my great-grandmother’s life, and that of her daughters, apparently isn’t flattering for the pre-Facebook generation. While we revel in sharing every thought with … Continue reading »

Categories: Strong Women | Tags: , | 1 Comment

The truth about marriage

Below is an excerpt from The Lamp and Little Lights. I have spent a lot of time talking to the women in the village about their husbands, as well as learning about my great grandfather. The following is what I imagine went through Marina’s head in the first year of marriage and how she came … Continue reading »

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Movers and Shakers

I am sometimes daunted by the large scale of my project, covering four generations of my family. But the fact is that the changes from one generation to the next fascinate me. The men’s work, for example, was sometimes typical for their own time and status, and sometimes it manifested more idiosyncratic ambitions. Who was … Continue reading »

Categories: 19th Century, Men of God, and of Commerce, Strong Women | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Smell of Oregano and Other Wake-up Calls

My family history mostly takes place in a small village called Giffone, nestled in the lush mountains of Calabria in southern Italy. Untouched, wild nature provides the views, and on a clear day you can see Sicily in the distance. In August of this year, I spent three weeks in the village hoping to do … Continue reading »

Categories: How we write, Strong Women | Tags: , | 1 Comment