Author(s): Jennifer Worth
A fascinating slice of social history - Jennifer Worth's tales of being a midwife in 1950s London, now a major BBC TV series.
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.
These are great stories about the lost world of London's East End before the slum clearances, when community was all important and no one ever locked their doors. Does for midwifery what James Herriot did for veterinary medicine. Stories about people struggling in the face of tremendous poverty and deprivation - as such will appeal to the large audience for 'misery' memoirs and stories of triumph over tragedy. Jennifer is a natural born storyteller and is full of opinions about the loss of our communities. Matthew Parris picked up Jennifer's stories in the Spectator 'Worth's book made me cry in a railway carriage' 'Worth is indeed a natural storyteller and her detailed account of being a midwife in London's East End is gripping, moving and convincing from beginning to end...There are moments in the convent's warm, often funny daily life that are reminiscent of Richard Gordon's Doctor in the House, though with more depth of characterisation...Call the Midwife is a powerful evocation of a long-gone world - and in Worth it has surely found one of its best chroniclers' Literary Review.
Shortlisted for Galaxy British Book Awards: Play.com Popular Non-Fiction Award 2009.
"Funny, disturbing and incredibly moving" YORKSHIRE EVENING POST "Worth's portrait is subtle, skilfully describing a sense of community that no longer exists" FT MAGAZINE "an amazing if at times gut-wrenching read... a detailed trip into history which may raise a few tears and many eyebrows" WARWICKSHIRE TELEGRAPH "Misery memoir meets EastEnders with a bang!" GOOD BOOK GUIDE
Jennifer Worth trained as a nurse at the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading. She moved to London to train as a midwife and later became a staff nurse at the Royal London Hospital, Whitechapel, and then ward sister and sister at the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Hospital in Euston. Music had always been her passion, and in 1973 Jennifer left nursing in order to study music intensively. She gained the Licentiate of the London College of Music in 1974 and was awarded a Fellowship ten years later. Jennifer and her husband live in Hertfordshire. They have two daughters and two grandchildren.