Ethel Smith’s autobiography was published in 1992 and it tells the story of a girl born in 1912 in a working class family who grew up in the Old Kent Road in London and came to live with her family in the Sussex countryside when still a young girl. She started work age 14 and her book vividly highlights the instability of life in service in the 1920s.

It describes Ethel’s life working in Brighton during the Second World War, her courtship and marriage and the sad tale of her first love, a doomed romance that was unable to overcome the class barriers that were prevalent at that time. Wartime life was dangerous and difficult, and Ethel recalls the bombing of The Level and a polio outbreak, which left her disabled.

Little Ethel Smith is now out of print but is available as a PDF download of the original text on a pay-what-you-like basis. You can download it by clicking here.

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