Monday, August 01, 2011


Members of the Society of Women Writers & Journalists mourned the recent death of Jennifer Worth, one of our best selling authors.  Jennifer was born in Clacton-on-Sea, Essex and grew up in Amersham.  She trained as a nurse and midwife during the 1950s "wanting a challenge" and certainly found this in her work in the East End of London.  In this deprived area, she delivered fifty per cent of babies in overcrowded homes, often in terrible conditions.  Life in Popar was so difficult for the people living in the area in war-torn London, but their humour was life-enhancing.

Jennifer's trilogy  Call the Midwife (2002), Shadows of the Workhouse (2005) and Farewell to the East End (2009), describing a world before the contraceptive pill and legalised abortion, is absolutely fascinating and she has written from the heart.  Her narrative was full of tales of resilience and - unusually - often funny despite the grimmest conditions.

Selling almost a million copies in Britain alone, Jennifer's books brought her to the attention of the film producers and Call the Midwife  is now being made into a television series for the BBC.  Will keep readers up to date on when it will appear.

Jennifer was trained as a nurse, midwife, ward sister and night sister from 1953 until 1973. She was a nurse at the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading and then moved to London for her midwifery training. She later became a staff nurse at the Royal London Hospital, Whitechapel, then ward sister at the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Hospital in Euston; later working at the Marie Curie Hospital in Hampstead.

Having written so movingly about the beginning of life, Jennifer’s latest book In the Midst of Life explored the complexities surrounding how we die. Written with passion and conviction, this book is about the mystery, the beauty, the loneliness and the aspirations of death.

Our friend Jennifer attended last year's Summer Festival in London and it was a pleasure to have her company.   She enjoyed meeting our Life President, Shirley Williams (Baroness Williams of Crosby) and we certainly loved chatting with her.

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