This is the story of a children's nurse. She was born in the eighteen seventies and got her first situation as nursery maid before she was twelve. She moved almost at once to Longton Place to help look after the Burton children. She stayed with them as nursery maid, under nurse and head nurse. When she left, it was to go to the children's grandparents at The Hall. There was to have charge of the linen and look after visiting grandchildren. It was then she became Gran-Nannie.
Gran-Nannie was a real person. She brought up Noel Streatfeid's father and his nine brothers and sisters and, off and on, their children came under her care. Noel never knew Gran-Nannie intimately and as a result Gran-Nannie is fiction based on fact and family legend, but her sisters knew her really well. The eldest lived in her care for some years because she had such bad asthma that it was impossible for her to winter in the damp vicarage which was their home, and the younger was also sent to Gran-Nannie because she refused to eat. When she arrived she looked like a famine victim. Gran-Nannie was not disturbed. "Children always eat in my nursery," she said, and she was right, Louise ate.
Gran-Nannie is buried in a family plot, with children's graves around her, amongst them a sister of Miss Streatfeild's who died when small. On her grave stone is carved the words she chose. "She hath done what she could."
This book is a tribute not just to one Gran-Nannie but to all the British nannies who have soldered families together.