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Episode 2

Duration:
15 minutes
First broadcast:
Tuesday 25 January 2011

Writing the Century. Three Women Across The Century. Ep 2. Dramatised by Vanessa Rosenthal.

Catherine feels inadequate when she compares her life to her mother's. Her husband Larry and daughter Becca worry that her obsession with her mother's diaries is detrimental to her frail health.

Catherine Thackray...Eleanor Bron
Lawrence Thackray...Will Tacey
Becca Thackray...Julia Rounthwaite
Marjory Sharp...Suzanne Bertish
Tom Sharp...Drew Carter-Cain
Children...Eva Grace, Isaac Whitmore

Produced in Manchester by Gary Brown
Music by Nicolai Abrahamsen

Here are the distinctive voices of a middle England family, perceptively aware of their place in the jigsaw of the Twentieth Century writing in diaries, letters and memoirs because- " it is a tradition in this family".
During the week's episodes we meet Marjory Sharpe- the grandmother, Catherine Thackray, the daughter and are introduced to Rebecca Thackray, the granddaughter, poised, on Millennium night, to take that tradition into a third generation

Catherine, born in 1922, served in the A.T.S during the war, studied at LSE - where she became a lifelong Fabian, then married Lawrence Thackray, a Quaker solicitor and moved to Huddersfield. The marriage
was "more than a union of hearts; it was a complement of moral principles". In Huddersfield Catherine worked for the Citizens Advice Bureau, was local secretary for C.N.D. and a local councilor and Magistrate in a life of tireless political campaigning. After the birth of her 3 children she went back to teaching in a Secondary Modern. In 1984, as a result of demonstrating at Greenham Common and being arrested there, she was removed from the bench. A frequent writer of published letters to the Guardian, they published her obituary in 1997 as "A passionate believer in countless causes who earned international fame and the admiration of many ".

Marjorie Sharp, the grandmother, born 1883, was a Fabian and Suffragist who trained originally as a teacher but then became a Social Worker in The Browning Settlement in the East End of London. She married, Tom Sharpe, an L.C.C. Education Clerk, who suffered a complete breakdown during WW1. Subsequently Marjory, through her teaching and home tutoring, which she continued into her eighties, became the chief bread winner whilst bringing up 8 children and encouraging Tom as a published poet whose work brought him into contact with Robert Bridges and others. He died in the 1950s and Marjory in the 1960s. A formidable, doughty woman she left behind her own autobiography, some diary entries and some letters.

Both these women are in the vanguard of their times, politically engaged and living lives of public service to their communities. They were not afraid of expressing their views, and sometimes felt compelled to express those views publically. At the same time they were wives, mothers and daughters, dealing with the balancing act of home versus work and the need for self- determination.

In re-visiting the past key events in both lives, the 5 episodes give a kind of snapshot view of the 20th Century whilst Catherine's ongoing diaries between 1993- 2000 chart the Yugoslav war, Maxwell's death, Rwanda, the Chinook Enquiry, Dunblane, the I.R.A., Blair's election and Princess Diane's State Funeral.

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