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

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

4 out of 5 (1 rating)


A fascinating slice of East End life, from the No.1 bestsellilng author of CALL THE MIDWIFE, soon to be a major BBC TV series. 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 6 months of each other 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.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 304 pages, ill
  • Publisher: Orion Publishing Co
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Memoirs
  • ISBN: 9780753825853



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Second instalment of memoirs of nurse Jenny Lee. 3 sections follow the lives of older people she met in 1950's East End. The first and last show the enduring effect of the workhouses following their supposed abolition in the 1930's. The second is an account of the later years of one of the nuns she worked with. I have to wonder how much artistic licence was used as some details the author can't have known. Fascinating all the same. It really helps to put a human angle on the events of history.

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