Swansea Girl is a recollection of childhood and adolescence in the ’20s, ’30s and ’40s, told with an attractive candour and made vivid by the author’s remarkable eye for detail.
Barbara Hardy’s maternal grandfather came from Devon to work in the late-Victorian industries of south Wales. This family married into a Welsh tribe of Joneses. Her father was of eastern European Jewish ancestry. The author groups her memories into themes, forming a broadly sequential pattern – mother and father, brother and cousins, schools, culture, politics, religion, sex and love. And she shows us how the lives of her parents were shaped by history, in particular by the two World Wars, the Wall Street Crash of 1929 and the ’30s Depression.
Barbara and her brother Bill grew up in the provincial culture of the time, in a Baptist religion, a narrow moral code and the mixed blessing of an elementary and grammar-school education. Yet the emphasis of this appealing story is on family life, with its rich throng of relations, friends and languages, and their compelling influences.
Barbara Hardy is an internationally- renowned academic. Widely published, she has written extensively on nineteenth-century fiction, including studies of George Eliot, Dickens, Thackeray and Jane Austen.