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Emma was the eldest of eleven children — little wonder that her siblings called her “Nannie”! She was 20 when her youngest sibling was born; her own first child was only three years younger than his uncle Bertie.

We know Emma only as the recipient of the letters that are the heart of the book; her character is only what we can surmise from the letter-writers’ comments. Having said that, Emma is the only one of the book’s three ‘main characters’ personally known to someone still living — my mother, now well into her 80s, remembers Emma as a doting grandmother. Hard to believe, perhaps, from her stern looks in the photos! But an unsmiling look appears to have been the fashion in formal photographs of that time. Certainly the affection in which she was held is obvious in the letters.

Emma had five children with Richard, and no doubt would have had many more, but for his premature death. At that time, her oldest child was 10, her youngest a babe-in-arms. More grief would follow, for Emma, sadly, lost two of her three sons in the Great War. Although she herself would live to a good age (80), she was not so fortunate in her children, outliving all but one (my grandfather, Wilfred Davies).

Emma