Monday, 15 July 2019

The Family from One End Street by Eve Garnett


There are actually three stories about the Ruggles family: 

The Family from One End Street   (first published 1937) 2014
Further Adventures of the Family form One End Street (first published 1956) 2019
Holiday at the Dew Drop Inn (first published 1962) 2019    

The Ruggles are an interesting family.  Dad is a dustman and Mum takes in washing. I remember the first book being read to us in the second year at junior school and I was delighted that here at last was a family a little like my own.  Not that my father was a dustman, nor did my mother take in washing and I was an only child: there are seven children in the Ruggles family.  However, the day to day concerns were the same as the ones that my family had and these characters offered something more familiar than the usual middle class ones we read about in domestic and school stories.     

I suspect the Ruggles will be a bit of a puzzle to the 21st century child. However, the stories do give some insight into a different Britain and in particular one without a National Health Service.
If town-dwellers living in the same era as the Ruggles had read the book they would have been introduced to the country side in the two sequels. This would be exotic and interesting for them. The 21st century reader is more likely to have travelled more.  

The stories certainly grabbed my attention. 

I do have a slight concern that Eve Garnett was not working-class. But then was Charles Dickens? Is any serious writer or reader, in fact?  Do we become middle class when we take on solid literacy?
All three books have satisfying spines and are illustrated with attractive line drawings.  Note the nineteen-year gap between the publication of the first book and the two subsequent titles.  All use a blocked text and a sophisticated font with difficult as and gs. The first book in the series uses a larger font.

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