06-factory-workers

Factory workers
Children in the Streets became part of a Simone Bodève's social study about ‘Women at work’ (celles qui travaillent) published in April 1913. It carefully detailed the precarious life of working-class women and mothers.  Women at Work received mostly favourable reviews, especially from l’Aurore, Touche a Tout, Le Figaro, l’Echo d’Alger, - all highlighting the integrity and dignity of the work.  Romain Rolland stated that Simone never left her working-class background behind her, had a strong bond with these women. Claire Geniaux writes that during the winter of 1914, she visited her brother-in-law who married her sister Marguerite.  The internet confirms that her brother-in-law Fernand Baldet (Paris 1885-1964)  worked at the observatory in Bouzarea/Algiers in 1914 . Marguerite occasionally did calculations at the observatory but she preferred looking after her household. When the war broke out, Baldet was exempted from military service, and he volunteered as an ambulance-man before returning to the observatory a few months later. His daughter Jeanne was born in 1916  Was she named after our writer? Jeanne Baldet, a maths teacher married George Lagarde  and died in 2006. In 1916, Simone Bodeve replied  to an enquiring journalist from Le Populaire that she had left the world of literature behind her and was working in a factory.

 We get an insight about her life as a factory workers in her last work. Her situation must have been difficult as the First World War progressed: the civilian population  experienced shortages.
Simone Bodève would have probably witnessed many work colleagues losing a brother or a son in the war and during the Spanish flu epidemic. Her own sister, brother-in-law and niece survived the Spanish flu. By the time the Baldet family visited to France in 1920 , Simone Bodève aka Jeanne Chretien was diagnosed with neurasthenia and was worn out by work. US author and social reformer Charlotte Perkins-Gillman (1860 – 1935) wrote about her own fight against the debilitating disease in her book 'The Yellow Wallpaper'. 


 Chretien family tree compiled by http://www.catchersofthelight.com/
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