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Where I Belong : A Forest of Dean Childhood in the 1930s
Here, in the latest edition of her first book, the late Joyce Latham looks back on her childhood days - the 1930s and the war time years - in a way that will bring memories flooding back for readers of or around her generation. In many ways, hers was a typical Forest upbringing - one in which poverty was softened by the warm and close-knit support of friends and relatives, and life in the workaday little mining communities was blessed by easy escape to the woodlands and glades of one of the most glorious corners of England. But in other ways her life was anything but ordinary, and some remarkable reminiscences are woven in among her accounts of everyday events. Joyce was born in Westbury workhouse, the lovechild of a servant girl - and if she had not been rescued by her grandmother, the beloved Mam who dominates these pages, her life story would have been very different. Here, too, are tales of crossing the frozen Wye on foot at Symonds Yat, of an astounding bid by her schoolteachers to adopt Joyce, her first hurtful taste of prejudice against people of her background, and an old uncle's first-hand tale of the Union Pit disaster of 1902, a tragedy that left its mark on the Forest for decades. You will find many of Joyce Latham's verses in this book, too, but most of all you will gain new insights into her perspective way of looking at the world, and find your own love for the Forest of Dean enriched and stimulated by hers.
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The History Press
November 30, 2011
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