Saturday 12 December 2015

Lasting Legacies | RememberingTipperty Tapperty Sam

My own love of reading and of books was first, as is the case for many, encouraged by my mother (Dorothy) and father (Ron). My dad was a writer as well as a reader and in his 45 thousand word memoir, which he finished not long before he died in 1979, he recounted buying his first book; a hard-backed version of Treasure Island from Woolworth’s for sixpence (2 1/2p). Good at woodwork he made a small bookcase for an end-of-term examination and filled this and many others, many times over (his taste eclectic) over his life. Writing about his late teenage years my father wrote ‘I was never without a book in my pocket and every spare moment would be used to get through a few more pages’ (Thornton unpublished: 15). 
Some of the publications which featured my dad's short stories 

In addition to his memoir my dad wrote a children's novel and a couple of children's stories; devised a TV quiz show; planned out a novel for adults and wrote several short stories also for adults. He didn't publish all of this but had moderate success with his short stories -  The White Lady of Coombe Dinton; The Severed Hand; The Black Jacket and others   -  most of which were published in the early 1960s.

He was a great storyteller, or at least I thought so; my favourites including a series of tales about the adventures of Tipperty Tapperty Sam; a gnome who lived under a bridge and mended doll's house furniture for a living.

There were less books in the home of my mum's family of origin but she loved to read too and she told me how she spent the first couple of years of married life working her way through my dad's collection of classics, science fiction, mystery, adventure and other yarns and stories. 

Like both my parents I have always read widely and I have been fortunate in my career as a sociologist to have the opportunity to write about my research experiences and scholarly interests (more to follow in future blogs). Following the usual childhood creations I have always wanted, like my dad, to experiment more with fiction and memoir. But until recently I had no ideas about what to write. Following the death of my husband John (who read on average a novel a day) early in 2010 I suddenly had a few ideas, and even more following my mum's death in 2012. Not surprisingly perhaps many of my early (and some of my current) attempts are grounded in, or relate to, my own life; early experiences, reworking of family events and challenges told to me by my parents; adult adventures and engagements with loss. Some of these, and others which relate specifically to research data I have collected,  I have included in recent academic writings, acknowledging that so called fact always includes some fiction and the inspiration for fiction often comes from fact. I am also beginning to explore memoir writing which relates to my academic interest in sociological auto/biography (again more of this to follow on further occasions). 

More soon. 

thanks for reading


Thornton, Ronald (Unpublished) Memoir of a Life (Journeys and Changes ‘A Chronicle of Events)

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