Caught in the melting pot of social injustice, revolution, war, and pacifism, this powerful book gives a vivid account of the experiences and struggles of a Glasgow family from the First World War and into the Depression at the end of the Twenties.
It is a story of Glasgow apprentices, their lives dignified with a desire for art and learning and the ideal of reforming the world. The book follows the fortunes of one particular family, the Macdonnels. The mother dreams of social success while struggling to raise her family and her ambitious husband out of slum life. But even at its saddest the humour of life flashes from every page in comic description and witty observation.
Edward Gaitens 1897-1966), was born in the Gorbals of Glasgow. Leaving school at fourteen, he undertook a variety of casual jobs to support himself over the years. When the First World War broke out he became a conscientious objector and was imprisoned for two years. in Wormwood Scrubs. In the 1930s he started to write, and his early attempts were greatly encouraged by his fellow Glaswegian, the successful dramatist James Bridie, who had become chairman of the Glasgow Citizens' Theatre at the time. A number of Gaiten's short stories were first published in the Scots Magazine. mostly based on his own life in the Gorbals, these were later collected as Growing Up and Other Stories (1942). Six of these stories were incorporated into Dance of the Apprentices (1948), a novel of city life and the turbulent years between the First World War and the Depression. Gaitens continued to write from time to time during the years in which he lived - virtually anonymously - in London and Dublin. Growing Up ... and Dance of the Apprentices remain his only published books.