Manchester Boyhood in the Thirties and Forties - Growing Up in War and Peace

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This is an autobiography with an extra dimension. It tells the story of a boy who began life in the 1930s on one of the big-city council estates built between the wars. The families who lived on these estates have been called a ‘new working class.’ While much has been written about the Victorian and Edwardian working classes, less has been heard about these new families, either from themselves or from historians. They coped with a succession of disruptive outside pressures: pre-war unemployment, wartime bombing, post-war restrictions. Donald Read, who won a scholarship to a grammar school and then went on to Oxford and became a professor of history, uses his skills as a professional historian to link his boyhood progress with the history of the time. As a result, this autobiography goes beyond the individual, combining frank personal detail with a wider and sometimes provocative historical awareness.


“It approaches the past sympathetically – and with insight – but not nostalgically. It could only have been written by a committed and highly experienced historian. Private and public do not contrast: they interpenetrate….It is one of the merits of this autobiography that it helps to establish perspective. Future historians will turn to it as an historical source” – Asa Briggs, historian, Oxford emeritus

“Professor Donald Read has a distinguished record of scholarly publication in modern British political social history….. The present book displays his skill as an experienced writer in combining an interesting personal story with the sharp memory, shrewd eye and extensive knowledge of the professional historian. The result is a book which is a contribution to History as well as Autobiography.” - David Turley, Head, School of History, University of Kent

Table of Contents

Table of Contents:
Foreword by Asa Briggs
1. Family Background c.1300-1930; Living Family Trees c. 1930-49
2. Pre-War 1930-39
3. Wartime 1939-45
4. Post-War 1945-49
References; Background Books; Index

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