"dedicated with affection to my real-life brothers and sisters whose names are Shirley, Olwen, Eric, Joyce, Kevin and Susan."

The characters in the family are fictional, but the author admits to drawing on some of the history and characteristics of his real-life family.

The father, Frank, is loosely based on the author's father Ellis (1914-79) who was a miner all his working life, and enjoyed his pint at the weekend.

The mother, Bella, is loosely based on the author's mother Alice (1914-88) who, like most of the pitmen's wives in those days, was a full-time housewife.

The eldest sister Sally is an amalgam of the author's two oldest sisters Shirley and Olwen.

The middle sister Rose is loosely based on the author's sister Joyce, though she was actually a nurse rather than a factory worker (Shirley and Olwen both had spells working in a local factory). Rose's boyfriend Vince is based on Joyce's boyfriend Gordon, a miner and occasional horse-keeper, whom she subsequently married (and they are married still).

The youngest sister Jeannie, hardly more than a baby in the stories, would be about the same age as the author's youngest sister Susan.

The oldest brother Eddie is loosely based on the author's oldest brother Eric. Like Eddie, Eric left home to join the Royal Navy.

The middle brother Malcolm, a couple of years older than David in the stories, is loosely based on the author's brother Kevin. In real life Kevin went to the Grammar School, unlike Malcolm in the book. Like Eric, he also later joined the Royal Navy.

 

Here are some family pictures. You may be able to spot some of the models for the characters in We Never Had It So Good.

At Newbiggin beach, early 1950s (500 * 343)
Permission Granted by Copyright Owner for Use on Book DrumSome of the extended family, Newbiggin beach, early 1950s - Credit: The Williams family

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Olwen's wedding, late 1950s (500 * 316)
Permission Granted by Copyright Owner for Use on Book DrumThe nuclear family, Olwen's wedding, late 1950s - Credit: The Williams family

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Joyce's wedding (500 * 314)
Permission Granted by Copyright Owner for Use on Book DrumThe family with spouses, Joyce's wedding, early 1960s - Credit: The Williams family