Gilda O'Neill

Lost Voices
  • Lost Voices

  • In the 1940s, nearly a quarter of a million East Londoners decamped annually for the hopfields of Kent. Most of the pickers were women, who would take their children and other dependent relatives to stay in the hoppers' huts on the farms.

    This book records the memories of some of them, in their own lively words. Funny, nostalgic and ironic by turns, they tell of hopping as 'a break from him', an escape from the chesty London smog, respite from the bombs of war, as well as a source of income - and the nearest thing to a holiday that adults or children were likely to get. It was a time of hard graft, of laughter and companionship and long evenings around the faggot fire. In the memories of those who were there, it was a time when the sun always shone ...

    Gilda O'Neill was herself a hop picker as a girl. In this vivid book she not only pays tribute to the creative genius of the working class of London's East End, but examines the role of memory and oral history in our understanding of the past.

Gilda O'Neill grew up in the East End of London. Having left school aged fifteen, she later returned to education as a mature student and went on to take three university degrees. Since 1990 she has been writing full-time and has published numerous works of both fiction and non-fiction, including two non-fiction bestsellers, My East End and Our Street. Gilda O'Neill is married with two grown-up children and lives in the East End.