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Poetry & Art

The Hayloft Stable


Young People

Memoirs and Biography

Rainbows, Recollections and Reality


About this book:

  • ISBN: 978 1 910237 11 3 (hardback)

  • Published 2015

  • Price £18.00 + postage

  • 283 pages

  • Illustrated with 355 black & white photographs and colour paintings

Wendy at the book launch for 'Rainbows, Recollections and Reality'

About this Book:

WENDY STUART has written a kaledescopic memoir of her life from early childhood through to the age of twenty when she married. Born in 1935 in Lancashire, she lived in Northern Ireland in a peaceful pre-war home, moving back to Lancashire at the start of the Second World War. Wendy has a wonderful visual memory and we see the world very much through her eyes, with many vivid and unusual recollections, from the places she lived while growing up.
Her adored father, served in the army as a regular soldier, going to war in 1939 and not returning full time until the conflicts in India were settled in 1947. Throughout this time Wendy is supported by the firm belief that her Irish father, who had a gift for storytelling, controls fairyland for the good of people, and with this belief and a handful of paintings of the fairies that he crafted, she holds on to her hopes throughout the war and for ten years into a difficult peace.
From a Victorian household in Garstang, she moved to Kirkby Lonsdale, then Clitheroe,
finally at the end of the war to the bombed shell of London. This was a spur for new opportunities, adventures and education. The family lived in West London while Wendy went to prep and public school followed by Art College. Always a restless spirit and unsure of a settled career, she found a variety of occupations while her independence grew. Her love of the North and farming prevailed – she worked on a sheep farm in Teesdale and then a mixed farm in North Yorkshire where she met her future husband.


This book is my mother's autobiography of the first 20 years of her life until her wedding. This was a time of tremendous social change from before the Second World War through to the austerity of the early '50s, and the book chronicles details of her life in Northern Ireland and England. She is a collector of memorabilia and has a great memory for details throughout her life, many of which she includes in this book, shedding light on the ways and customs of the time. Her father was a career soldier born in India who retired a colonel and her mother the daughter of a wealthy Lancashire mill owner. Despite this privileged background she marries a Yorkshire farm foreman. Wendy has written a book which will be of great interest to anyone looking for an insight into these fascinating times. Jerry Joynson.

'Rainbows, Recollections and Reality is a uniquely special memoir of growing up in pre and post-war Britain in the 1930s and 40s. Everything is seen through the eyes of Wendy, the younger sister in an extended family of aunts, uncles and grandfather as she grows up in a changing world. She takes us with her on a journey which starts in Northern Ireland and moves to Lancashire, Cumbria, Yorkshire and London. Full of fascinating detail and characters, this book allows us a glimpse into a Britain now fading from view.' Susanne Holt, MA English tutor, Lancashire

Reader Reviews:

This is the first time I’ve read an autobiography of someone who is not famous (nor even infamous!) so I was a little reticent to make a start. However, after a shaky beginning with some fairies, I have to say I became seriously hooked and thoroughly enjoyed it.
I’m absolutely staggered that someone can remember so much about their early childhood, perhaps it is a uniquely female quality to remember colours, fabrics, and décor in such detail as well as the varied incidents and actions in such a variety of locations. Many of us visit many places then forget them, but this remembered account is just mind blowing, adding to the range of subsequent talents and accomplishments, but I suspect this is a work still in progress.
It has brought back a few memories for me also for I passed my driving test in my early twenties in Isleworth, and knew the area very well. In 1953 I went to the Dairy show with my Dad, and in later years we knew The Busby Stoop and its legend of that chair!

Your own early story is cleverly wound around some solid family historical background of the Simpson dynasty. This has made your story that much more compelling and gives a rare insight into the times and culture of late Victorian and early 20th century England. Whilst members of the family will ruefully smile at the aunties of some and some of the characters, readers will be glimpsing the lives of real people. This makes the book really valuable as a piece of social history...
Your childhood and the stories in the book will be a fascinating tale for younger readers. They will perhaps marvel at the extent a wartime child had to make do and show, most significantly, that youngsters can be happy and content without so many possessions.

To see more about Wendy and her work see: http://www.wendymstuart.moonfruit.com





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By the same author:

Lakeland in the 1830s

A Lakeland Paintbook



Copyright © Hayloft Publishing Ltd