The diaries of five ordinary people during the period of 1945 to 1948, originally collected for the Mass Observation Project, which, with literally thousands of others, have been stored, mostly unread, in the University of Sussex. What can I say except they are quite extraordinarily fascinating. Showing frustrations, passions, excitement, boredom, annoyances and hopes, they hypnotically conjure up such a different time.
In 1936 anthropologist Tom Harrison, poet and journalist Charles Madge and documentary filmmaker Humphrey Jennings set up the Mass Observation Project. The idea was simple: ordinary people would record, in diary form, the events of their everyday lives. An estimated one million pages eventually found their way to the archive - and it soon became clear this was more than anyone could digest.
Today, the diaries are stored at the University of Sussex, where remarkably most remain unread. In Our Hidden Lives, Simon Garfield has skilfully woven a tapestry of diary entries in the rarely discussed but pivotal period of 1945 to 1948.
The result is a moving, intriguing, funny, at times heartbreaking book -unashamedly populist in the spirit of Forgotten Voices or indeed Margaret Forster's Diary of an Ordinary Woman.
'I love these diaries. They have the attraction of being stories, but REAL stories- Better than any novel.' Margaret Forster
'A lovely book. It will appeal to- anyone who appreciates the richness and diversity of human experience.' Tony Benn
'Utterly engrossing, better than any kind of reality TV.' Gavin Esler
This is definitely no. 1 on my present list to give to everyone in the coming year.' Jenny Uglow, author of The Lunar Men
Publication date: 05/02/2005
Publisher: Ebury Press
|Publication date:||5th February 2005|
|Genres:||Biography / Autobiography, eBook Favourites,|
Simon Garfield was our Guest Editor in October 2012 - click here - to see the books that inspired his writing. Simon Garfield is the author of fourteen acclaimed books of non-fiction including On the Map, Just My Type and The Wrestling. His edited diaries from the Mass Observation Archive, Our Hidden Lives, We Are At War and Private Battles, were bestsellers, and his study of AIDS in Britain, The End of Innocence, won the Somerset Maugham prize. He lives in London and St Ives, Cornwall. Author photo © Sarah LeeMore About Simon Garfield