Why Life Books Matter

I started Life Story Books, when I came to the sudden realisation that I knew hardly anything about my dad.

I knew what a great dad he was, but I knew hardly anything about his life.

When he started to lose his memory due to Alzheimers, I thought I must sit down with him and ask him more about his childhood and his early life. I thought it would be nice to write it up and make it into a book that I could pass on to his grandchildren. But I kept putting it off, always too busy to spare the time. And then it was too late – and I deeply regretted not finding the time.

Back in 2007, I told a work colleague, Lorretta Walsh, about my missed opportunity and she loved the idea. Some years before, she had a similar desire to record her father’s stories, and she had sat down with him, asked him about his life and taped the conversations.

Lorretta gave me the transcriptions and a pile of family photos. I edited them for her, scanned in the photos, designed a book and published Frank’s story. When she gave her father the finished book, it was an incredibly emotional moment, and one she has never forgotten.

It was then I realised that I was not alone in my desire to preserve the memories and stories of loved ones. I started a biography service called Relatively Speaking and produced over 30 books.

Sometimes I would ghost write a life story from scratch, sometimes people would provide rough notes. Either way, in each case, the final book has become a treasured family possession. There is nothing more valuable than recording the stories of parents or grandparents. Without them we wouldn’t be here.

By Ian Trevett