A bestseller in England and celebrated as one of the great memoirs in many years, The Road to Nab End is a marvelously evocative account of growing up poor in a British mill town. From William Woodruff’s birth in 1916 (in the carding room of a cotton mill) until he ran away to London at the age of sixteen, he lived in the heart of Blackburn’s weaving community in the north of England. But after Lancashire’s supremacy in cotton textiles ended with the crash of 1920, his father was thrown out of work. From then on, Billy and his family faced a life blighted by extreme poverty. For the ordinary families of Lancashire, unemployment was an ever-present fear: “If you worked you ate. If there was no work you went hungry.” Billy’s boyhood was not all misery. Working-class pride and culture made for tight family and neighborhood bonds and added savor to the smallest pleasures in life. Mr. Woodruff writes with an understated lyricism and an eye for telling details that effortlessly pulls us into another time and place.