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Wednesday’s Wise Woman … Annie Kenney continued

May 29, 2013

Annie Kenney

Annie Kenney left school at 13 with no education.  She failed at mathematics and geography; wasn’t good at writing but did enjoy poetry.  Annie began working full-time in a local mill; she  left home at soon after five in the morning and arrived home at after six in the evening.  Although Annie didn’t go to night-school she admired those who did.  After a day in the mill she had neither the energy or inclination to ‘get on.’ Her friends and workmates attended technical classes, cookery and needlework courses etc.  Annie hated dressmaking but liked to cook if her mind was on it.  She liked washing and scrubbing floors; which was just as well as she points out in her memories.  After 12 hours at work it was likely that there would be plenty of work to do at home as well.  This was unfortunate, she added for those who wanted to ‘study’ as well.

Annie hated study but grew into it later. She didn’t blame her parents for her hardship; beginning work at 13 then was normal and necessary.  As the years passed so life slipped into  a monotonous pattern of work, Sunday school and church.

At seventeen the family moved to a bigger detached house with a large garden which she said ‘was a great source of joy’.  

Each Sunday Annie and her brothers and sisters were allow to invite a friend for tea.  They would assemble around the table and discuss a current topic.  The older children had been reading the likes of Haeckel, Spencer and Darwin; these discussions were beyond her understanding at the time but they did stand her in good stead when she became unwilling to accept statements without proof.

That year she was confirmed but was already having doubts about the holy trinity.  During her time preparing for her confirmation Annie questioned the vicar at length about her concerns but they were never resolved adequately.  However, she was confirmed, he advised her that ‘her search for the truth would lead to a good understanding of the Gospels’.  Singing the closing hymn ‘Oh Jesus I have promised’ Annie still was not convinced that she would be able to keep her promise.  

Little did she know that in a few months she would be in the Oldham Library reading the Rational Review in particular a special edition where she read the sayings of Voltaire; that she never forgot.  Although she said ‘the ‘Rational Review didn’t change her belief in God, she suggested that Voltaire did start a train of thought which never ceased to vibrate.  One thought leads to another and one discovery leads to another.  

During this time she remained outwardly happy-go- lucky, but within it was a time of self contemplation. meditation and secret communion with her higher self.’

At 20 Annie became interested in social issues and reading articles by Robert Blatchford in the Clarion she enjoyed reading his weekly writings on nature, philosophy and life.  Thousands of men and women in the Lancashire factories owe their education to Robert Blatchford

He was their literary father and introduced them to Walt Whitman, William Morris, Edward Carpenter, Ruskin, Omar Khayyam the Early English Poets , Emerson and Lamb…. To be continued.  


2 Comments leave one →
  1. May 29, 2013 11:04 am

    great woman ! 🙂

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