Journal Article

Doing Good and Winning Love: Social Work and Fictional Autobiographies by Charles Dickens and John Stroud

Rob Hardy

in The British Journal of Social Work

Published on behalf of British Association of Social Workers

Volume 35, issue 2, pages 207-220
Published in print March 2005 | ISSN: 0045-3102
Published online March 2005 | e-ISSN: 1468-263X | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/bjsw/bch179
Doing Good and Winning Love: Social Work and Fictional Autobiographies by Charles Dickens and John Stroud

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In this article, I explore fictional autobiographies by Charles Dickens (Esther Summerson’s narrative in Bleak House) and John Stroud (Charles Maule’s narrative in The Shorn Lamb). The article has four related arguments: (a) the narrators’ (and behind that the authors’) pain is related to their desire to help others; (b) both texts treat this desire as problematic; (c) the narrators’ wish to help others is one strategy among others to deal with their pain; (d) both narratives explore the possibility of personal change in their narrators. The article should be read in the context of two kinds of social-work writing: that which suggests that social-work practice can be enriched by a knowledge of imaginative literature (e.g. Turner, 1991), and social-work autobiography (e.g. Cree, 2003). The article is relevant to social workers because both novels are important documents in the history of social work. Bill Jordan argues that Esther Summerson exemplifies one of the historical traditions underpinning modern social work (Jordan, 1984, p. 35), and Bob Holman (referring to a description of Stroud as ‘the new Charles Dickens’) praises The Shorn Lamb as the post-war social-work novel whose impact has been the greatest (Holman, 2001, p. 86).

Keywords: Stroud, John; Dickens, Charles

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Social Work

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