|William Alfred Green, aged 15|
My father was the youngest and the only one still living at home. His ‘mother’ (who may have been an aunt) died when my father was 12. From the age of 14 onwards, my father supported himself by working very long hours as a junior (hack) chemist at the Beckton Gas Works, preparing at night school for the equivalent of the exams taken at 16 and 18. He did his homework on the Tube train which he took to get to the night school.
Then, also from night school, he took an Honours degree in chemistry, externally from London University. As he was very tired from his day’s work at the gas works, he found this difficult, in spite of his high IQ, and did not take the degree until he was 24. 
He disliked the working-class environment in which he grew up, and felt a strong need to rise in the world. His ‘mother’ was an invalid until she died, so she cannot have contributed much in the way of emotional support.
He read very few books while he was living at home, in fact I do not think he can ever have had time to read many. Nevertheless he came top of the borough in the grammar school scholarship.
He was fortunate to meet my mother (Dorothy Elizabeth Green, née Cleare), when they were both 14, at the East Ham Grammar School. She was precocious and brilliantly maternal, and must have supplied at least some of the deficits which resulted from the insecurities of his early life.
|William Green and Dorothy Green (on left)|
|William Green at East Ham Grammar School|
His hopes of rising to an adequate position in society had, however, been destroyed, and my mother married him when they were both about 24, recognising, I think, his need for support in living out his ruined life. This was damaging to her own prospects of a successful teaching career, although she continued to work as a supply teacher until I was born.