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In Search of Sarah-Jane

I’ve always liked the name Sarah. When I was a child Sarah and especially Sally was my go to name for my alter-ego during imaginary play, particularly when we were pretending to be young ladies from “the olden days,” (that vague period of our imagination, based on reading E.Nesbit and Frances Hodgson Burnett). 

     So, when as adult I started to look into my family history it was wonderful to learn that my Great-Grandmother and my Great-Great Grandmother were, respectively, Sally and Sarah-Jane. 

    Then the discovery of a battered cardboard envelope within a suitcase led to a face to go with the name. Here was my infant Grandfather with his father and mother, dressed in typical Edwardian fashion. And seated on the far left was a rather careworn figure, dressed in the formal clothes of her era. A woman who had lived through the reign of Queen Victoria. Sarah-Jane, who I knew had been “in service”, but little else. 

     As historical records revealed more about her life, she began to come alive in my my imagination. I learned of a life of personal tragedy, of poverty and hard work, but also of self-improvement despite the odds. A life straight out of the pages of a favourite novel of my childhood.

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