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A Love of Learning:

Gran’s father, my great-grandfather, was the younger son of a Liverpool baker. His boyhood ambition had been to go to “grammar” school and get a higher education than the simple primary schooling which seems to have been standard for the working-class and lower-middle class British young, back in the 1860s or thereabouts.

Unfortunately, at that period, such higher education was generally considered not really appropriate for the likes of the younger sons of shopkeepers.

It was Henry’s older brother who was given that opportunity.

Well, his brother later developed what was referred to as a “brain fever” and was never quite the same afterwards. The family, of course, was absolutely convinced that this had been brought on by study.

Dangerous practice, you know, study. Very dangerous. Children should be protected from that kind of thing.

Therefore, if the elder brother developed a brain fever from studying, education could be no proper vocation for poor little Henry — who was, not only younger, and less deserving, but had been a premature infant to boot.

So, in order to protect him from the rigors of education, his family apprenticed him to an upholsterer.