browser icon
You are using an insecure version of your web browser. Please update your browser!
Using an outdated browser makes your computer unsafe. For a safer, faster, more enjoyable user experience, please update your browser today or try a newer browser.

How we write

Looking for dialogue – Part 1

What drives me to want to use dialogue in non-fiction writing project? One year, two months and three days late I finally manage to post a blog about my efforts to find sources for real dialogue that can be used in non-fiction writing.     Action novels and deliciously trashy domestic stories have lots of dialogue that … Continue reading »

Categories: How we write, Miscellaneous | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

A writing class with Michael Arditti

As part of the Ilkley literary festival, I attended a Fiction writing class run by the author and critic Michael Arditti. Although the emphasis was on fiction, there were still useful ideas and exercises that can be applied to family history writing. Michael emphasised how lonely a writer’s life can be, and the importance of … Continue reading »

Categories: How we write, Miscellaneous | Leave a comment

Families – happy and unhappy

I disagree with Tolstoy.  (‘Every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way’ – Anna Karenina.) It seems to me that when we witness, in fact or fiction, some pain or difficulty in family life, we often see connections to our own.  I have just seen a searing play about two sisters (Little Light by … Continue reading »

Categories: How we write | Leave a comment

Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain – a review

The red flower for this Valentine’s Day piece is the scarlet poppy on the front of the Virago anniversary edition of Testament of Youth. First published in 1933 by Victor Gollancz, it became a great success both in the UK and the USA, and  familiar to a later generation when reissued in 1978 and a … Continue reading »

Categories: Books we've read, How we write, Miscellaneous, Strong Women, World War One | Leave a comment

Another family bible, another distraction

When I visit my uncle I usually bring back something intended to help me with my family history; sometimes an old document or a 1920s guide book to London but recently an old, very large, family bible. Whether this is our family bible is a moot point, certainly it’s someone’s family bible. It records births … Continue reading »

Categories: 19th Century, How we write, Legacies, Men of God, and of Commerce | Tags: | 1 Comment

The value of feedback

Now that I have an almost complete draft of my family history I have begun seeking feedback on it. I have re-hashed it too many times to see it objectively and while it is not destined for a very large public I hope that a few people outside the family will find it worth reading. … Continue reading »

Categories: How we write | Tags: , | 2 Comments

A Dog’s Life by Michael Holroyd – a review.

This is a fictionalised account of Holroyd’s eccentric family, detailing 24 hours in the lives of the inhabitants of the house called ‘This’ll do’. It’s a study of old age, and of a middle class family in reduced circumstances struggling to cope with the post-war world of the early 50s. Best known for his biographies … Continue reading »

Categories: Books we've read, How we write | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

25 Years after the Fall (of the Berlin Wall)

Exactly 25 years ago today, the Berlin Wall fell. Tonight, a concert at the Brandenburg Gate commemorated one of the most important events of the 20th century. It did so by releasing 8,000 white helium balloons which were illuminated and lined up next to one another over a nine-mile line; the same line along which … Continue reading »

Categories: How we write, Journeys | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

House clearance: a miscellaneous archive

One small reference in Richard Holmes’ Footsteps set me thinking about my family archive. He mentions Virginibus Puerisque, a collection of four essays by Robert Louis Stevenson.  When I read that title, a clear memory came to me of a set of dark volumes of Stevenson’s works that sat on the bookshelves at Cedar Cottage, … Continue reading »

Categories: How we write | 1 Comment

And by the way . . . encounters while researching

Until this last April, Errol – I don’t know his last name – was still working the quarry at Llechwedd, Blaunau Ffestiniog.  Then, over twenty men were laid off, while he and one other chap were kept on to maintain the site.  The main enterprise now is the visitor experience ‘Llechwedd Slate Cavern’ and adventure … Continue reading »

Categories: How we write | 1 Comment