JJ’s Early Years
In April 1885 the 14 year old schoolboy Josiah John Goodwin fell ill with a fever, with the consequence that the whole household was thrown into turmoil. His brother Ben and sister Etty had to stay at school through the Easter holiday. The maid, Alice, was sent away out of the reach of the fever. Then all the large bedrooms at 4 Alexander Buildings, Bath, Somerset, England had to be papered and whitewashed, and the rest of the rooms disinfected.
Alice, the servant girl, was allowed to return after a fortnight, but was in the words of Josiah John’s elderly father “so queer and disagreeable that your mother could not do anything with her and she finally left us on Thursday night.”
On the 18th April Josiah John’s father was writing to his daughter Etty “the house has been thoroughly disinfected so there can be no harm in writing to you, but it will not be wise in the opinion of Doctor Cole for you to come home until Josiah has left for school, which D.V. will be Friday 8th May.” We do not know where this school was. It was not the Kingswood School which his grandfather and father had attended, and which had now moved to Bath. Josiah John’s younger brother went to a small country school in a private house so he may have done the same.
JJ’s enforced stay at home may have given him a chance to work on his shorthand. He was in any case due to leave school in July, and start work as a trainee reporter. This would be two months before his fifteenth birthday. His childhood had, in effect, ended.