The Road to Nab End
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The Road to Nab End (Nab End #1)

3.87 of 5 stars 3.87  ·  rating details  ·  315 ratings  ·  34 reviews
William Woodruff had the sort of childhood satirised in the famous Monty Python Yorkshireman sketch. The son of a weaver, he was born on a pallet of straw at the back of the mill and two days later his mother was back at work. Life was extrememly tough for the family in 1920's Blackburn - a treat was sheep's head or cow-heel soup - and got worse when his father lost his jo...more
Paperback, 407 pages
Published January 3rd 2002 by Time Warner Books UK (first published 1993)
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William Woodruff is an historian, economist, and author. He's British, but he lives in Florida. He's old, having emigrated to the States after life in Lancashire and London in the early 1900's.
That combination may not, at first glance, instantaneously translate into "ooh, exciting" in the eyes of literary hipsterdom. Sure, perhaps the occasional horn-rimmed glasses-wearing Bright Eyes-listening kid might secretly yearn to really, truly understand the depth and nuances of the rise, decline, and f...more
Picked this up for cheap at my local thrift store. So far it's interesting.

Ok, I ended up really liking this book. It read like fiction, to me. I find myself fascinated with how people lived without all the conveniences that we are so accustomed to. Reading this book also made me stop and think about how incredibly blessed I am. My closets and cupboards are full and I have a vehicle to take me wherever I might want to go. I felt ashamed of my lack of gratitude when reading about the struggle tha...more
Janith Pathirage
I haven't read many autobiographies but this's the best one I've had so far. Such a magnificent story!!. I'm not sure these are 100% genuine life events, because it reads like a fictional tale. It actually felt like reading Nicholas Nickleby rather than reading an autobiography. If all of these happened for real one must admire William Woodruff's photographic memory. He could even remember the poems sang by a cart driver whom he met only once in his life when he was just 10 years old. It really...more
I grew up in Blackburn and unknowingly walked past the end of the street where the bigginig of the book is based every day on my way to and from secondary school. If you live or have ever lived in Blackburn Lancahire read this book. If you have any interest in the cotton industry in the uk read this book.
The biography of an ordinary working class boy.
Dee Buck
I didn't want this book to end. It made me laugh, it made me cry. Great characters brought to life by Mr. Woodruff. Fabulous!!
A great book told from th point of view of a young child growing up in a working class town, Blackburn, in Lancashire England. The family are all working in cotton mills -- their lot in life.

The book is somewhat reminiscent of "Angela's Ashes" -- but somehow less depressing. There is always escape to the hills putside Blackburn -- walks, games and freedom out there help the kids and workers survive their long hours of backbreaking work for little pay. The writer seems to attract "mentors" -- or...more

This autobiography was the October selection for our library reading group. It is the biography of William Woodruff, now an eminent historian, from his birth in 1916 in the Blackburn cotton factory where his mother was working to the point he ran away to London at age 16. It describes his upbringing and his family's struggle to survive during the period that the Lancashire cotton industry went into decline in 1920 through to the Great Depression and beyond. It is a story of considerable hardship...more
This is one of the finest memoirs I've read in a while. It is a social history of life in Blackburn either side of the first world war that is rich in the sort of detailed vignettes that give credence to the famous line "the past is a foreign country" - for example descriptions of the young author's father and other men spending their sundays wrestling on the moors behind the town. He has a fine eye for character, especially in his descriptions of two women, his romantic mother and his proud gra...more
i enjoyed this book although I found some real contradictions between the family living on the bread line but then being able to improve their housing st a time when work in the cotton mills was on the decline. I also couldn't get my head around the mother's trip to blackpool where seemingly she did a spot of prostitution to earn a few coppers. Apart from that it did evoke a certain time and place and the decline in the cotton inducstry reminded me of stuff I'd done at school on social history.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. William Woodruff painted a very vivid picture of life in that part of the 20th century. However, I too found it difficult to work out the reason for his mother's trip to Blackpool, where she did a spot of prostitution. It seemed so totally out of character but people have all sorts of reasons for their actions and I suppose she put morals to one side in order to earn enough money to get what she wanted out of life.
hmmm, the writing of the book was rather boring, I grew up with a lot of things like that, and I thought, I would learn more about England... not exactly catching, I found... the only thing I learnt, is that life in England and Germany was not so different, except England had a welfare system back then, which we had not... well, it was not really a welfare system... tough times throughout Europe.
I quite enjoyed the first half of this book - looking at life through the eyes of a small child growing up in poverty in 1920's Blackburn. The latter parts however were less interesting, and I almost gave up half way through. Couldn't work out why some of the chapters were even in there.
Both books in this series well worth reading for insight into how incredibly tough life was in England as a result of war, oppression, poverty and what amazing spirit and tenacity was revealed in all those circumstances. Compelling and inspiring.
Mollie Lyons
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It created the atmosphere of those times so well and I can recommend it as a really good read for anyone who has an interest in a true and well written piece of actual social history.
Barbara Gray
Good book to read with just enough humour to keep it light hearted. I would recommend this to anyone who is interested in auto biographical stories with a hint of humour.
Very interesting account of a childhood in the northern England cotton mill town of Blackburn. Only the rich profited from the mills. The workers were always poor.
Really enjoyed this moment in time. My grandparents would have had very similar experiences as they were both mill-workers in Blackburn born in the early 1900's.
Dec 29, 2008 Amber rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Amber by: Kristi
Like all good memoirs, this book reminded me to be grateful for the ease of my life and the blessing that come from living in a free country. Amazing story.
Good book overall, though it did drag its heels at times. The ending left me hanging, and I wished the author would've told us about his period in London.
A wonderful insight on the Thirties. They seem so glamorous from documentaries and old films but this book shows the reality of life for many people.
Brilliant character observation. Warm yet sobering description of life among the working class of Blackburn between the wars.
this book really opens my eyes about the outside world.most importantly,i started to count my blessings after reading it..
a sad but true depitcion of life in Norhtern England after the first world families bound together to survive
Interesting read although suspect that not all came from his memory. Layout of book confusing at times.
Loved it! I went to Blackburn & Nab End just to see where this amazing man/writer/human being grew up.
Interesting account of northern childhood during 1920s. Very well written - not over romanticised.
Just loved this book and can't wait to get into the next book.
very skow and boring, read 3 chapters and gave up!
Just had to get the sequel - engaging writing
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William Woodruff was born in 1916 into a family of Blackburn, Lancashire cotton workers. At 13 he left school and became a delivery boy in a grocer's shop. In 1933, with bleak prospects in the north of England, he decided to try his luck in London and migrated to the filth and squalor of the East End. Then in 1936 with the encouragement of a Jesuit priest and the aid of a London County Council Sch...more
More about William Woodruff...
Beyond Nab End A Concise History of the Modern World Nab End and Beyond: The Road to Nab End and Beyond Nab End Vessel of Sadness Shadows of Glory: A Novel

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