Lily Barron (nee Jones), left, and family when her father was home on leave
Fathers of yesteryear tend to be portrayed as cold, detached, even callous creatures. But, says Steve Humphries, the cuddly, hands-on, sentimental dads we know today are by no means a modern-day creation.
Every night when 98-year-old Lily Barron goes to bed, she looks at the large framed photographs that line her bedroom wall and says a prayer for her father, "the most important man in my life. I loved every inch of him."
Lily's dad was a miner who lived with his wife and four young children in the town of Blackwood in south Wales. In his attitudes to his children, he was in some ways surprisingly modern. He never smacked them, he read bedtime stories, and he cuddled and kissed them every day. Twice-married Lily remembers him as "the loveliest and gentlest man I ever knew".
This image of the gentle and loving Edwardian working class father is at odds with our general perception of fathers in the past. We tend to picture them as tyrannical patriarchs whose children were seen and not heard and lived in fear of father's punishments. It is only in recent decades - or so we imagine - that dads have become approachable, caring and committed to the wellbeing of their children. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The testimonies of fathers, and of their sons and daughters during the first half of the 20th Century, reveal just how prevalent the loving and devoted dad was.