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Rigidity -bookcover

By: Valentine Bingham-Hall


Pages: 204 Ratings:
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1954 – My remarkable year breaking through the rigidity of the times This is a fascinating glimpse of life in England sixty years ago. Valentine writes of a lonely country childhood in a deeply religious family bound by the rules of the English class system – what was DONE and what was NOT DONE – and by the unbreakable rules of the Catholic Church. In this memoir we experience the effects of learning about other nationalities before the days of cheap overseas travel, of working with the very poor living in the slums of large cities, of the heartbreaking problems of homosexuality while it was still a criminal offence, and the results of the English law of primogeniture on family relations and succession. This was six years before the contraceptive pill changed the life of women worldwide, so that in the 1950s in order to live together, one had to be married. We come to understand the growing confidence of a twenty-three-year-old and the almost poetic letters from her fiancé. After he declared himself dramatically and succinctly in the unexpected four lone words which comprised his first letter, a year was spent trying to gain the approval of her family and the Church to their marriage.This is an intriguing and thought-provoking record of a remarkable year at a time of massive social change, demonstrating the effects of the unrelenting rigidity of English social mores, closed minds and the dictates of the Church, amidst the stress of family discord.Cover photography courtesy of WOHA Architects

Valentine was born in England in 1931. After leaving school she did social work before marrying against the unrelenting opposition of both her family and the church.

In 1963 she migrated to Australia and then worked in printing and interior design before retiring at the age of 76. She has two children, seven grandchildren and lives in Sydney.

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