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Winifred Foley grew up in the 1920s, a bright, determined miner's daughter - in a world of unspoilt beauty and desperate hardship, in which women were widowed at thirty and children died of starvation. Living hand-to-mouth in a tumbledown cottage in the Forest of Dean, Foley - 'our Poll' - had a loving family and the woods and streams of a forest 'better than heaven' as a playground. But a brother and sister were dead in infancy, bread had to be begged from kindly neighbours and she never had a new pair of shoes or a shop-bought doll. And most terrible of all, like her sister before her, at fourteen little Poll had to leave her beloved forest for the city, bound for a life in service among London's grey terraces.

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