The Story of My Life

By Arnold Goodliffe

For many years, family historians have been sharing copies of a typescript manuscript that they had "found" in the Nottingham and Leicestershire Records Offices. It was entitled "The Story of My Life", written by Arnold Goodliffe. How the manuscript became lodged in the Records Office remained a mystery to many. Readers soon realised that they had a typescript copy and that the original work would have been handwritten. But where was it? Who had it?

This page tells that story:-

The Transcribed Typescript

The typed manuscript, a transcript of Arnold's original hand-written account was given, by chance, to Elizabeth Higgins of Market Harborough who was the far-sighted person who deposited a copy at the Leicester Records Office, Wigston. Elizabeth is a descendent of another Arnold Goodliffe, who was the son of our Arnold's brother (the name Arnold being taken from a maternal ancestor).

For many years the typescript was all we had, and many people have been fascinated by the wealth of information it contains. The whereabouts of the original, in Arnold's handwriting remained unknown.

You can view the typescript version here.

The Original Handwritten Script

In late 2006 the original hand-written memoir was located by Elizabeth (read her version of the treasure-hunt here), and it too has been deposited in the Leicester Records Office. A scanned version of the original is available on this website.

Now that the original is available, we can see that there are major differences between the two versions. The typescript has a lot of detail missing, words have been transposed, Mrs has become Mr etc. (This latter point is important to me. The original lists my great-great-grandmother attended the double wedding of Sarah and Frederick Arnold Goodlliffe, but the typescript resords MR attended. Unfortunately he had died the previoius year.)

There is an earlier version of the Handwritten script

I, for one, always thought that the handwriiten version was too perfect. It is almost flawless, no mistakes, changes or editing. Arnold was meticulous but surely he would have made notes or written a draft version before being satisfied enough to copy it out neatly?

I believe he did have a draft version and it is in the posssession of another Goodlffe descendent who lives in south London. I have seen the notebook, also bound in black leather, and only later did I appreciate its significance.

The Original book and the copy

In January 2007 I visited Elizabeth and was able to hold and to read both editions of the Book. The transcript has been bound in soft black leather to look as close to the original as possible, but has had the title in gold printed on the spine. The original is a small bound exercise book with ruled pages, just as Arnold had described.

The copy has been both poorly transcribed and poorly typed. By comparing the two versions, I am of the opinion that the copy was made, perhaps by hand originally, not long after Arnold died. This would explain the rewording of the section in which Arnold describes his brother John in a poor light and the addition noting that "They had 6 sons and 3 daughters, all living at the present time 1898". As Arnold died in 1888, this dates the transcription to 1898. Whether that was the date of the typescript is unknown, although typewriters were newly invented and would not have been common in 1898.

The original copy of Arnold's "Story of My Life"
(Click on the photos to see larger versions)
Paul holding the original and Elizabeth holding the copy
The first page of the original book in Arnold's handwriting

Pages 2 and 3 in Arnold's handwriting

Read Arnold's story, in his original handwriting here.


Download a PDF file of the page images (28Mb)
(I suggest you save the file to your local computer before opening it. On most computers right-click on the above link and then choose "save link as..")

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Last updated: 10/09/2017