Sunday 2 March 2014

Letters To The Midwife: Correspondence with Jennifer Worth, the author of Call The Midwife

When the CALL THE MIDWIFE books became bestsellers, Jennifer Worth was inundated with correspondence. People felt moved to write to her because the books had touched them, and because they wanted to share memories of the world her books described, the East End of London in the late 1940s and early 1950s. 
LETTERS TO THE MIDWIFE is a collection of the correspondence she received offering a fascinating glimpse into a long-lost world. 
Along with readers' responses and personal histories, it is filled with heartwarming gems such as letters and drawings sent by one of the nuns featured in Call the Midwife and a curious list of the things Jennifer would need to become a missionary. There are stories from other midwives, lorry drivers, even a seamstress, all with tales to tell. 
Containing previously unpublished material describing her time spent in Paris, and some journal entries, this is also a portrait of Jennifer herself, complete with a moving introduction by her family about the Jennifer Worth they knew and loved.

Letters to the Midwife - Correspondence with Jennifer Worth, the author of Call The Midwife was published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson on 13 February 2014 in hardback.

I really don't watch a great deal of television drama. I work strange hours in my job as a Community Development Worker, often having evening meetings that finish quite late and I never seem to be at home on the same evening each week. However, I watched the first episode of Call The Midwife and was hooked. I have no idea why, I'm not a mother, I've never been interested in nursing, or in being a nun! There's just something about the programme that entrances me for the full hour that it is on.

When Letters to the Midwife popped through the letterbox, I was intrigued by it, and started to read straight away, and could hardly put it down.  The book is introduced by Jennifer Worth's family; her husband Philip and her two daughters and Miranda Hart has written the foreward.

This book is a real piece of social history, with stories from people who would probably never have been able to tell them so widely if it were not for Jennifer Worth.  So many people wrote to her after she wrote her books; people who recognised the places that she described and the people that she worked with. Some people even recognised Jennifer herself.  It is clear from the amount of correspondence she received, and the fact that she took the time to answer the letters, and that she kept them all, that Jennifer Worth was a lady of compassion and depth, and was much loved by all who came into contact with her.

This is a fascinating look at Jennifer Worth's 'other' side too - the time she spent in Paris in the 1950s is especially interesting.

My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review.

Foreward   For those of you who have read Call The Midwife you will know that Jennifer Worth creates the most wonderful imagery with her writing. She portrayed such vivid pictures of an extraordinary time in British history and of truly extraordinary women in the midwives who devoted years to their vocation and saved many women's lives. Midwifery and women's health truly mattered to them and they were, in my view, heroines... Sadly I never got to meet Jennifer. I wish I had. To have been able to thank her. But here we are lucky enough to have further insight in to her life through her correspondence and a chance to wallow happily in her beautiful writing. Thank you Jennifer.   Miranda Hart

Jennifer Worth trained as a nurse at the Royal Berkshire Hospital, Reading, and was later ward sister at the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Hospital in London, then the Marie Curie Hospital, also in London. Music had always been her passion, and in 1973 she left nursing in order to study music intensively, teaching piano and singing for about 25 years. Jennifer died in May 2011 after a short illness, leaving her husband Philip, two daughters and three grandchildren. Her books have all been bestsellers.


  1. Funnily enough I saw a copy of Call the Midwife in the charity shop yesterday, might pick it up if it is still there. Only watched a bit of the series, but loved Miranda Hart in it. Lovely review.

  2. I have the books still to read Anne, I have heard lots of good things about them though and would like to read this.


  3. I haven't read the books, but adore the TV series. This is a really interesting collection of letters x