Avril Horner
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Becoming a writer
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On 1 September 1939 England declares war on Germany. Later that month Barbara and her children move with Price to a new house in Hayes, Middlesex, and Barbara decides to home school her children. Julian, now 7, enjoys roaming with a gang of local village boys. The winter is extremely cold though and Price becomes bad-tempered and exhausted by the long hours he has to work at the factory. They agree that it might be better if she takes a job as a housekeeper in a warm home near a good local primary school. Barbara’s first post is with a Mrs Walton in Welwyn Garden City, who has one daughter. She is happy to accept Caroline but not Julian, who is sent away to private school. Mrs Walton is a strict vegetarian and her daughter is spoiled. Terrified that German air raids will start soon, she decides to move to Scotland. Barbara finds another housekeeping job, this time with a kind family in rural Hertfordshire who agree to accept both children. Barbara is happy there and becomes a very good cook. In 1941 local police arrived looking for John Pemberton, who has recently deserted from the Royal Artillery. Barbara explains that they separated in 1935. She starts writing in the evenings but puts the manuscript – a memoir which was later to become Sisters by a River – away in a suitcase. Although she is content in many ways, Barbara finds she is missing London badly.

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