It’s time to head back to East End London in the 1950s with CALL THE MIDWIFE, the warm and endearing story of Jennifer Worth as she experiences the highs and lows of midwife life back in simpler (or was it really more complicated?) times.
The ratings for this TV series, of which there are 6 hour long episodes, drew more viewers in the UK than the corseted juggernaut of DOWNTON ABBEY – so did you watch it?
Over 1,000,000 copies of this TV tie-in have been sold in the UK to date!
Maybe it’s time you got yourself a copy… huh? Huh?
A fascinating slice of social history – Jennifer Worth’s tales of being a midwife in 1950s London
Jennifer Worth came from a sheltered background when she became a midwife in the Docklands in the 1950s. The conditions in which many women gave birth just half a century ago were horrifying, not only because of their grimly impoverished surroundings, but also because of what they were expected to endure. But while Jennifer witnessed brutality and tragedy, she also met with amazing kindness and understanding, tempered by a great deal of Cockney humour. She also earned the confidences of some whose lives were truly stranger, more poignant and more terrifying than could ever be recounted in fiction.
Attached to an order of nuns who had been working in the slums since the 1870s, Jennifer tells the story not only of the women she treated, but also of the community of nuns (including one who was accused of stealing jewels from Hatton Garden) and the camaraderie of the midwives with whom she trained. Funny, disturbing and incredibly moving, Jennifer’s stories bring to life the colourful world of the East End in the 1950s.
About the Author
Jennifer Worth trained as a nurse at the Royal Berkshire Hospital, Reading, and was later ward sister at the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Hospital in London, then the Marie Curie Hospital, also in London. Music had always been her passion, and in 1973 she left nursing in order to study music intensively, teaching piano and singing for about twenty-five years. Jennifer died in May 2011 after a short illness, leaving her husband Philip, two daughters and three grandchildren. Her books have all been bestsellers.
In this follow up to CALL THE MIDWIFE, Jennifer Worth, a midwife working in the docklands area of East London in the 1950s tells more stories about the people she encountered. There’s Jane, who cleaned and generally helped out at Nonnatus House – she was taken to the workhouse as a baby and was allegedly the illegitimate daughter of an aristocrat. Peggy and Frank’s parents both died within 6 months of each other and the children were left destitute.
At the time, there was no other option for them but the workhouse. The Reverend Thornton-Appleby-Thorton, a missionary in Africa, visits the Nonnatus nuns and Sister Julienne acts as matchmaker. And Sister Monica Joan, the eccentric ninety-year-old nun, is accused of shoplifting some small items from the local market. She is let off with a warning, but then Jennifer finds stolen jewels from Hatton Garden in the nun’s room. These stories give a fascinating insight into the resilience and spirit that enabled ordinary people to overcome their difficulties.
This final book in Jennifer Worth’s memories of her time as a midwife in London’s East end brings her story full circle. As always there are heartbreaking stories such as the family devastated by tuberculosis and a ship’s woman who ‘serviced’ the entire crew, as well as plenty of humour and warmth, such as the tale of two women who shared the same husband! Other stories cover backstreet abortions, the changing life of the docklands, infanticide, as well as the lives of the inhabitants of Nonnatus House.
We discover what happens with the gauche debutant Chummy and her equally gauche policeman; will Sister Monica Joan continue her life of crime? Will Sister Evangelina ever crack a smile? And what of Jennifer herself? The book not only details the final years of the tenements but also of Jennifer’s journey as she moves on from the close community of nuns, and her life takes a new path.
Jennifer Worth’s bestselling memoirs of her time as a midwife have inspired and moved readers of all ages.
Now, in IN THE MIDST OF LIFE she documents her experiences as a nurse and ward sister, treating patients who were nearing the end of their lives. Interspersed with these stories from Jennifer’s post-midwife career are the histories of her patients, from the family divided by a decision nobody could bear to make, to the mother who comes to her son’s adopted country and joins his family without being able to speak a word of English.
IN THE MIDST OF LIFE also gives moving insights not just into Jennifer’s life and career, but also of a period of time which seems very different to today’s, fast-paced world.