A look at the lives of our ancestors

'Call the Midwife' by Jennifer Worth

The first book is “Call the Midwife” by Jennifer Worth, that Gloria mentioned.

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I have just started reading this book that tells the story of the people in the East End, like the old Laindoners and my great grandad, who also worked at the Bromley Gas Works. They are doing a series starting Jan 15th BBC1 based on her books called worth a look I would think.


I read the book ‘Call the Midwife’ by Jennifer Worth a couple of years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it – couldn’t put it down in fact.

I have just started reading Jennifer Worth’s second book “Shadows of the Workhouse”. It’s based in East London where our families came from. I have only read the first chapter so far but it is just as well written and descriptive, full of great characters and stories as her first book. I started researching my family history in 2001 and have discovered an amazing amount of stuff. I was soon hooked on it and haven’t finished yet as I still have one or two mysteries to unravel.


Nina I have just started to read Jennifer Worth so far so good, the saga was bought for me for Christmas by my Grandaughter the third one after “Shadows of the Workhouse” is “Farewell to the East End”. I would think it was a bit like the conditions experienced in Laindon with our plotland homes, like the slums, leaving a lot to be desired by today’s standards. The people that lived in them had a passion for them and the life around them, all for one and one for all attitude, meant you got on with it and did the best for your family, but helped pick up the pieces of those around you who were suffering through no fault of their own.

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  • The scene from ‘call the midwife’ where the ship is at the end of a road with children playing is in fact the road my husband lived in Silvertown not Poplar.

    By Carole Devlin (25/04/2012)
  • The book referred to is called “Shadows of the Workhouse” and is one of a set of four books recording the memoirs of midwife and district nurse, Jennifer Worth, who worked in Poplar during the fifties. Her stories are now being televised on Sunday Evenings ‘Call The Midwife’. Unfortunately Jennifer Worth died just two months before filming began.

    By Nina Humphrey (née Burton) (24/01/2012)
  • In the foregoing narratives on this page, I notice there are several references to a book ‘In the Shadow of the Workhouse’. While I have never read this book, I did submit a personal account of my one visit to the Billericay Workhouse and I wonder if this compares to those of the book.

    By W.H.Diment (21/01/2012)
  • Brenda I have read two of the books now on “leaving the East End”. I wonder if she left to come to Laindon wow wouldn’t that be something. 

    I was watching a cine film (put on to dvd) made in 1975 last night, so many people mentioned on this site are on it. And I can’t believe it but there is a shot of my sitting room in Royal Court, where I lived before I had my twins, and a shot of the High Road with the car lot opposite Little Oxcroft. Great!

    By Gloria Sewell (19/01/2012)
  • Brenda and Gloria. I’ve just discovered that Jennifer Worth wrote a 4th book about her nursing experience in the East End. It’s called “In the Midst of Life”. Another ‘must to read’ I think. Best wishes.

    By Nina Humphrey(née Burton) (13/01/2012)
  • Hallo Nina, I’ve read Jennifer Worths books, fantastic! You are all doing a fantastic job, can’t wait for the first full page of names on the school photographs

    By Brenda Mason (née Lewis) (12/01/2012)
  • Hi Brenda. I’m sure you are right, films, programmes or plays are never as good as an original book, however, I am looking forward to the TV programme to see how it compares. Apparently there is a third book by Jennifer Worth called ‘Farewell to the East End’. I intend to read that just as soon as I have finished ‘Shadows of the Workhouse’. Best wishes.

    By Nina Humphrey(née Burton) (12/01/2012)
  • I’ve got a nice book on the East End called ‘The Changing East End – Stepney, Bethnal Green and Poplar’ by Rosemary Taylor, it’s got fab photos of Limehouse etc. Also you should read ‘Family Britain 1951-57’ by David Kynaston, if you can get through the 750 pages!!

    By Richard Haines (12/01/2012)
  • Hello Nina, I’ve read the books you mentioned about the midwives, fantastic! Like you I didn’t want to put them down. I don’t think the TV series will do them justice but I’m sure I’ll be watching avidly.

    By Brenda Mason (Lewis) (08/01/2012)

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