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Record 1471

Reading Experience:

'George Gregory offers a case study in the importance of Self-Help. His father was an illiterate Somsert miner, his mother a servant who read nothing but the Bible... Gregory only had a few school prizes - Jack and the Ostrich, a children's story; The Crucifixion of Philip Strong, a gripping tale of labor unrest; and the verses of Cornish poet, John Harries - and the family read a weekly serial, Strongdold the Gladiator. Having left school at twelve to work in the mines, Gregory had no access to serious reading matter until mid-adolescence, when a clerk introduced him to Self-Help. That book, he recalled in old age, "has lived with me, and in me, for more than sixty years... I was impressed by its quality for I had never touched a book of such high quality; and the impression deepened and became vivid as I took it home, read the stories of men who had helped themselves, struggled against enormous difficulties, suffered privations...but went on to rise phoenix-like from the ruins of their plans... I realised that my lack of education was not decisive of what I might become, so I commenced to reach out into the future".'
Century: 1900-1945
Date: unknown
Country: England
Time: n/a
Place: county: Somerset
Type of Experience (Reader):
silent aloud unknown
solitary in company unknown
single serial unknown
Type of Experience (Listener):
solitary in company unknown
single serial unknown

Reader/Listener/Reading Group:

Reader:George Gregory
Age Child (0-17)
Gender Male
Date of Birth 1888
Socio-economic group: Labourer (non-agricultural)
Occupation: miner
Religion: n/a
Country of origin: England
Country of experience: England
Listeners present if any:
(e.g. family, servants, friends, workmates)
Additional comments: n/a


Text Being Read:

Author: Samuel Smiles
Title: Self Help
Genre: Textbook / self-education
Form of Text: Print: Book
Publication details: n/a
Provenance: borrowed (other)
borrowed from a clerk


Source Information:

Record ID: 1471  
Source - Print  
  Author: Jonathan Rose
  Editor: n/a
  Title: The Intellectual Life of the British Working Classes
  Place of Publication: New Haven
  Date of Publication: 2001
  Vol: n/a
  Page: 69
  Additional comments: n/a

Citation: Jonathan Rose, The Intellectual Life of the British Working Classes (New Haven, 2001), p. 69,, accessed: 04 March 2024

Additional comments:

See George Gregory, untitled typescript in Brunel University Library



Reading Experience Database version 2.0.  Page updated: 27th Apr 2016  3:15pm (GMT)