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Friday, 26 June 2009

City of Culture

This is Scotland’s Homecoming year, and there are lots of celebrations planned in Edinburgh for this summer. Robert Burns called Edinburgh ‘Scotia’s Darling’, and the city has long been renowned as a centre for literature and learning. Burns, James Boswell and Sir Walter Scott are just a few of Scotland’s literary stars who lived there. You can find out more about Edinburgh and its history in my new feature for Scottish family history magazine Discover My Past Scotland.

Image: Statue of Burns (by Flaxman) in the National Gallery. The statue was originally in the monument to Burns on Calton Hill. Black’s Picturesque Tourist of Scotland (24th edition), (A& C Black, 1882.)

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Even more exciting news!

I have just signed another book contract! 'Tracing Your Canal Ancestors' for Pen & Sword Books will be a guide for family historians. This will be an extremely interesting project, and I am really looking forward to doing the research.

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Mary Shelley's Frankenstein

Jane Austen’s work has recently been given a highly dubious zombie makeover. But it was a young lady still in her teens, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (1797-1853), who supercharged the Gothic novel to create a new literary genre:
I saw the dull yellow eye of the creature open; it breathed hard, and a convulsive motion agitated its limbs… the beauty of the dream vanished, and breathless horror and disgust filled my heart.’ (Frankenstein, 1818.)
During the autumn of 1816, Mary worked on ‘Frankenstein’ while staying in lodgings near Bath Abbey (pictured left) with Shelley and Claire Clairmont. Mary and Shelley married later that year.
Mary's Frankenstein; or, the Modern Prometheus was published anonymously in 1818. The story of hapless experimenter Frankenstein, his Creature’s sufferings - and fearful revenge - caused a sensation. The book struck a chord with the reading public, and horror stories are still big business in the film and print media. You can find out more about Mary Shelley and the birth of her ‘hideous progeny’ in the latest issue of Jane Austen's Regency World.

Image: West front of Bath Abbey, Penny Magazine, 13 July 1833. Author’s collection.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

An exciting new project

I have just signed a new contract with Robert Hale! My next project is 'Stolen Childhoods.' The book will tell the story of child workers' lives during the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and the battle to improve their working conditions. These children worked very long hours to help feed their families, some of them in very dangerous factories and workshops.
I am very excited about my new project, and thrilled to be working with Robert Hale again.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Coming Soon!

Here's a sneak preview of the provisional front cover for my forthcoming book, Regency Cheshire. The proofs have gone back to Robert Hale now, so fingers crossed that everything goes smoothly now. The illustration on the cover is from a lovely engraving from Ackermann's Repository, which shows the Gothic temple in the gardens at Eaton Hall, Cheshire. The temple was built to house a Roman altar discovered near Chester in 1821. I acquired the engraving from Richard Nicholson of Chester. If you are a keen map or print collector, I can thoroughly recommend Mr Nicholson's service.

Friday, 5 June 2009

Stop Press!

The proofs for my next book, 'Regency Cheshire,' arrived from Robert Hale this morning - very exciting! It's great to see all one's hard work taking shape into book form at last. I will be very busy for the next few days checking through the proofs, so I probably won't get time to update my blog for a little while. As soon as I get a provisional publication date, I'll post it on my blog.