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The Great Aunt

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Posted by Magnus Smith on February 08, 2022 at 23:44:22 user Magnus.

There is a fascinating discussion in the Facebook group about GA Maria Turner and whether she really does share Nancy's traits, and what she might have been like as a child.

I thought I'd bring that discussion over to Tarboard with a new angle: why was the GA such a grumpy cow, determined to ruin every part of a child's holidays? (I phrase this as my 10 year old self felt, when reading the books!)

As you do when you are 10, you ask your mum. I seem to recall she said most maiden aunts were grumpy (at least in fiction) as they had never married. Perhaps they did not understand children.

However, this was the 1930s, and an unmarried woman would have her own money - a shocking concept! Perhaps she was determined not to be saddled with a man who would control her life? Maybe she didn't want to be "given the housekeeping money" each week.

But does AR ever mention Maria was never married? She could have a husband who in Harrogate? A husband in the Navy? She could be a widow?
Oh wait, we are told her surname is Turner, just like Uncle Jim, so that would be expected to change if she was married.

Perhaps she had a sweetheart who was killed in a war, and she couldn't bring herself to ever marry? But why hate children's freedom so much?!

Looking for parallels in my own family, I recall an aunt who had glandular fever aged 8, and had to spend a year in hospital (around the year 1950). She was on a ward with adults, talked to adults, and had basically turned adult by the time she went home. She went on to train as a nurse.

Or perhaps Maria was the eldest child, her mother died young, and Maria had to bring up her younger siblings whilst her father went to work? Something like that really matures you, with no choice, and you might keep this attitude of "I must ensure the family thrives in the correct way" for the rest of your life.

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