Lively and vibrant, Frances Woodsford's letters to America from austerity Bournemouth have recently come to light to give a heartwarming glimpse into post-war England
Frances Woodsford was born in 1913. She was exceptionally bright at school but her father's death in 1926 interrupted the prospects of an academic career. She left school to work as a secretary, to help provide for the family during the Depression. After taking an administrative job at a local garage, she taught herself engineering and ran practical workshops during the Second World War. When the war ended she took a position as secretary in the Public Baths Department of Bournemouth Town Council, where she worked for the duration of her correspondence with Mr Bigelow. Frances had eighty or more correspondents, but Mr Bigelow was particularly special and received over seven hundred letters from Frances during the twelve years that they wrote to one another, until his death in 1961. She continued to work for the Council until her retirement in 1974; her final position was as archivist. Extraordinarily, in 2006, Frances's letters to Mr Bigelow came to light and were returned to her. They are the testimony of an ordinary lifebut their vigorous prose suggests that with other opportunities, Frances could have been a professional writer. Frances never married. She continues to live in Bournemouth, aged 95.
Many pleasing and interesting small touches -- David Kynaston *
Literary Review *
Packed with comic moments and social history, the letters are a beady commentary on her life and times -- Fanny Blake * Woman & Home *
A treat to be savoured -- Peter Burton * Daily Express *
This delightful collection of letters...a sequence of bright, witty and charming letters * Mail on Sunday *
Provide[s] an insight into post-war Britain * Telegraph *