The above words are taken from Mabel Coopers life story, constructed from tape recorded interviews (Cooper 1997:30). As a child she lived first in a childrens home and later in a long stay hospital. Recounting life stories is a social process. Life stories are generally ‘told’ and told to someone else. For Atkinson that someone else has two main roles: to ‘facilitate the telling of the story and to listen attentively to its telling (to be its audience'); and later, to be its compiler and its writer (though not its owner)’ (Atkinson et al. 1997:7). Life stories involve the researcher in biographical and family history research.