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The Diary of Elizabeth Lee

The Diary of Elizabeth Lee: Growing up on Merseyside in the Late Nineteenth Century

Colin G. Pooley
Siân Pooley
Richard Lawton
Copyright Date: 2010
Edition: 1
Pages: 482
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  • Book Info
    The Diary of Elizabeth Lee
    Book Description:

    Personal diaries provide rare glimpses into those aspects of the past that are usually hidden from view. Elizabeth Lee grew up on Merseyside in the late nineteenth century. She began her diary at the age of 16 in 1884 and it provides an unbroken record of her life up to the age of 25 in 1892. Elizabeth’s father was a draper and outfitter with shops in Birkenhead, and throughout the period of the diary Elizabeth lived at home with her family in Prenton. However, she travelled widely on both sides of the Mersey and her diary provides an unusually revealing picture of middle-class life that begins to challenge conventional views of the position of young women in Victorian society. The book includes a detailed introduction to and analysis of the diary, together with a glossary relating to key people in the diary and maps of the localities in which Elizabeth lived her everyday life. There have been a number of diaries published relating to ‘ordinary’ people, but most accounts were written retrospectively as life histories by people who eventually gained some degree of fame or prominence in society. This very rare first-hand account provides a unique insight into adolescent life in Victorian Britain.

    eISBN: 978-1-84631-530-5
    Subjects: History
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Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations
  1. Front Matter (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface (pp. vii-viii)
    Colin G. Pooley, Siân Pooley and Richard Lawton
  4. Acknowledgements (pp. ix-x)
  5. List of Figures and Tables (pp. xi-xii)
  6. List of Plates (pp. xiii-xiv)
  7. The Diary of Elizabeth Lee: An Introductory Essay (pp. 1-62)

    We are used to reading the diaries of politicians and others who feel that they have a particular place in history and a story to tell, but it is only rarely that the diary of an ‘ordinary’ person finds its way into print. For the social or cultural historian, such documents are occasional treasures as they can reveal much about aspects of everyday life which otherwise are never recorded and are thus lost from view. This volume reproduces in its entirety the diary of Elizabeth Lee, who grew up in Birkenhead and Prenton on the western side of the river...

  8. Editorial Conventions Used in the Transcript of the Diary (pp. 63-64)
  9. The Diary of Elizabeth Lee, 1884–1892
    • 1884 (pp. 67-132)

      Last year I took it into my head to write a ‘Diary’; so I began on the 14thof January last, in an old exercise book. Papa gave me this Diary for a present, on this New Year’s day 1884, so I thought I would write down the principal events out of my old Diary of last year, in this. I was born in Cross St. Birkenhead, in the County of Chester. I am now nearly 16 years of age, and have 5 brothers;- Toddy, Percy, John, Arthur and Baby (called Frederick Clive). Near the end of 1881 I went...

    • 1885 (pp. 133-174)

      January Thursday 1stI went to Liverpool this morning to get a pair of slippers and a pair of gold-coloured mittens. My slippers are black with beaded toes. Went to Mrs. Gallienne’s party tonight. Enjoyed myself very well. All the Mawby’s were there except Willie, Pollie and Amy Dunn and thier brother, Amy Burnett, and a lot of little ones were there. We danced most of the time. We had such a grand supper. Dick brought me home about ½ past 12.

      Friday 2ndStopped in bed till after dinner. L and Lizzie Mawby came to see me this afternoon....

    • 1886 (pp. 175-222)

      January 1stFriday 1stAda and Florrie Purdie came to tea today and tonight Mr. Drape, Miss Brown, and Mr. Robb’s father and mother came. We have had quite a nice little party. We played cards most of the time and I played the piano a good bit. Mrs. Robb played for us as well. We had a jolly supper. They all went about 11. p.m. Mr. Purdie came for Ada and Florrie. We have had such fun.

      Saturday 2ndWent to Roper’s and Gallienne’s. It is John’s birthday.

      Sunday 3rdArthur is 5 yrs old today. Went to Church...

    • 1887 (pp. 223-261)

      January 1stSaturday Percy and I went on to the pits tonight, and had a little sliding. Went to see L. Holmsworth this afternoon. She gave me her photo. Went to see how Mrs. Drape was. Saw Miss Brown for a few minutes. I expect L. Sanchez has gone to Chester today. She came down to see me on Thursday and said that Harry Mills her sweetheart was coming yesterday and would take her back with him.

      Sunday 2ndWent to Church this morning. Bitterly cold. Stopped in this afternoon and evening.

      Monday 3rdNasty weather. Busy all day.


    • 1888 (pp. 262-301)

      January Sunday 1stWent to Church twice and to Sacrament. L. Sanchez away at Chester, and Mr. W. away in Wales. Coldest, bitterest day we have had yet.

      Monday 2ndBank Holiday. Very wet. Went to ask Purdies to come to our dance on Thursday at the shop in Grange Rd.

      Tuesday 3rdJust heard that L. Holdsworth’s father is dead, so she can’t come to the dance. So sorry. Went to L’pool. Had tea at the Shop, and then we had a dance up in our ballroom to show some of the fellows how to dance. The 2 Heathcock’s...

    • 1889 (pp. 302-341)

      Tuesday 1stof January. “Am beginning the New Year, with a continuation of my delicious visit to Longpreston”,- Visiting all day. Cousin Mabel came to tea. Belle and I went to a party at Mrs. Lister’s tonight (next door), Maggie and Jos Jackman, Mr. Wildman, and Bob Preston were there. We had a very jolly time, dancing etc.

      Wednesday 2ndHad tea at Auntie Mary’s. Had short walk with “Bob”. John and Dick Hornby and Kate B. were asked in to Armisteads tonight. They stayed till 2.a.m. We did have such a jolly time. We tried spirit-rapping, fortune telling, and...

    • 1890 (pp. 342-383)

      January 1stWed Annie Thompson and I went to Mrs. Grime’s at Settle, preparatory to our going to the ‘ball’ tonight. Poor Annie was taken ill with a bilious attack and had to go home. So sorry. Mrs. G. and I then got ready. Enjoyed myself very much. The ball room was ‘beautifully’ decorated in the Japanese style. Had about 20 dances. Had some fun with a gentleman from ‘Burnley’, Also with Mr. George Hook (from London) Left the ballroom at 6 a.m. Went to bed for a short time.

      Thursday 2ndCame home by 3.p.m. train from Settle. Saw...

    • 1891 (pp. 384-427)

      New Year’s day Thursday 1stWe had cards from B. Armistead. A nice day, only very cold. Joe and I went to a party at Heathcock’s from 5 p.m. and it lasted till 3a.m. We thought we should have been home by 12pm. but did’nt arrive till Never enjoyed anything so much in all my life, such a jolly set of fellows there and one in particular a Mr. Murdoch, who was a splendid singer and a form actor, he kept the whole company in roars of laughter the whole night. I never came across such a fellow. A...

    • 1892 (pp. 428-460)

      January 1stFriday We had the Christmas tree tonight, and then I went to Miss Burnett’s, fancy dress children party; there were some very pretty dresses. I wore my cream, trimmed with pink ribbon. We had a jolly evening, had games, charades, dancing etc. There were two young fellows there, Bob and John Ravenshaw, who were dressed as Sir Roger de Coverley and the “Bogie Man”; they were good dancers. Gertie R. was there and looked lovely. Did’nt get home till 2.30, a.m.

      Saturday 2ndGot up late. Went down Oxton Rd. tonight, and then had a nice walk with...

  10. Glossary of People Mentioned in the Diary (pp. 461-472)
  11. Further Reading (pp. 473-474)
  12. Index (pp. 475-482)