William Woodruff - The Road To Nab End - Little, Brown Book Group

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The Road To Nab End

By William Woodruff

  • E-Book
  • £P.O.R.

* A Lancashire ANGELA'S ASHES, widely praised and reviewed. A fabulous portrait of working class life of the period.

William Woodruff had the sort of childhood satirised in the famous Monty Python Yorkshireman sketch. The son of a weaver, he was born on a pallet of straw at the back of the mill and two days later his mother was back at work. Life was extrememly tough for the family in 1920's Blackburn -- a treat was sheep's head or cow heel soup -- and got worse when his father lost his job when the cotton industry started its terminal decline. Woodruff had to find his childhood fun in the little free time he had available between his delivery job and school, but he never writes self-pityingly, leaving the reader to shed the tears on his behalf. At ten his mother takes him on his one and only holiday -- to Blackpool. He never wonders where they get the money to do so, only where she disappears to with strange men in the afternoons, before taking him to the funfair, pockets jingling an hour or two later. NAB END is certainly not all grime and gloom however, there's a cast of great minor characters from an unfrocked vicar to William's indomitable grandmother Bridget who lend some colour and humour -- and all against the strongly rendered social backdrop of the 1920s and 1930s.

Biographical Notes

From his birth in 1916 until he ran away to London, William Woodruff lived
in the heart of Blackburn's weaving community. He eventually went to Oxford
University and lived in Florida for over forty years. He died in 2008.

  • Other details

  • ISBN: 9781405520454
  • Publication date: 20 Sep 2012
  • Page count:
  • Imprint: Abacus
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Italy, 1944 - this is the setting of one of the most convincing and quietly magnificent stories about man and war that has ever been written. Here, (distilled from the experiences and observations of one who fought with them in the British infantry unit) is the mood of those who fought and died at Anzio. Their task - to seize the Alban Hills and then Rome forty miles away. Instead, for more than four months, they sank into the mud of the Anzio plain and fought for their lives. Nothing has appeared since Erich Maria Remarque's ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT that can compare with this book's ability to penetrate the minds of men at war. There are no heroes, no heroines, no victories. This is a faceless, nameless, fragmented war. Even national differences - Britain, Italian, German, American - merge and are forgotten in this larger story of humanity. This story, in fact, does not need to be Anzio; it could be any battlefield where man has faced death.

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The second volume of Woodruff's memoirs starts with him having arrived in Poplar in the early 1930s. On spec he turns up at a steel foundry and luckily gets a job. His digs are with an old couple in Bow where he has to share a single bed (head to toe) with their mentally retarded son.Life in the foundry is grim but William is indomitable. For recreation one day he cycles (then in the days before inflatable tyres) to Berkhamstead to try and track down an old girlfriend. She's not there and he has to return in a snowstorm - it takes him eight hours to get back to Poplar and then he has to get up three hours later to work at the foundry.Eventually he decides to 'get some leernin' and his first white collar job starts for the water board in ... Brettenham House! He continues to pursue his studies, finally winning a place at Ruskin College, Oxford. How the ex-steel worker became an Oxford academic - and William's concluding description of returning from the war to meet the son he's never seen - is deeply moving.

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