Nancy Jackman was born in 1907 in a remote Norfolk village. Her father was a ploughman, her mother a former servant who struggled to make ends meet in a cottage so small that access to the single upstairs room was via a ladder. The pace of life in that long-vanished world was dictated by the slow, heavy tread of the farm horse and though Nancy's earliest memories were of a green, sunny countryside still unspoiled by the motorcar, she also knew at first hand the harshness of a world where the elderly were forced to break stones on the roads and where school children were regularly beaten. Nancy left school at the age of twelve to work for a local farmer who forced her to stand in the rain when she made a mistake, physically abused her and eventually tried to rape her. Nancy continued to work as a cook until the 1950s, sustained by her determination to escape and find a life of her own.