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Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Back Up Your Work!

I am in deepest mourning for my external hard drive which expired on Christmas Eve. Archived on it was over 100 GB of work, photos and scanned engravings which I use for my features and books. I try to make hard back-ups on CD and DVD fairly regularly but can't be positive that I have got copies of absolutely everything. In the new year we will see if it's possible to recover some of the files, but I am not very hopeful! So a reminder to all my students - back up all your work at least once a week, more often if possible!

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Tracing Your Canal Ancestors update

I have great pleasure in announcing that my book 'Tracing Your Canal Ancestors' for Pen & Sword books is now going through the production stages! Publication date is provisionally scheduled for the autumn of 2011, and I'll post updates on my blog as soon as I have more news.

Image: Worsley Basin and ‘starvationer' boats.  Lives of the Engineers: Brindley and the Early Engineers, Samuel Smiles, (John Murray, 1874.)

Monday, 20 December 2010

Austen meets celebrity chefs

I was very busy finishing the typescript for my book 'Tracing Your Canal Ancestors' last week, so missed a lot of the fun and frolics for Jane Austen's birthday. If you are fed up with the weather and want cheering up, the Jane Austen spoof 'Sophie' on the Impressions Show  is hilarious - great fun to watch.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

The Price of Coal

Coal has long been valued as a fuel source. The industrial revolution greatly increased demand for coal. It was used to smelt iron and generate steam, and coal production in Britain rocketed from six million tons p.a. in 1770 to twenty-three million tons in 1830. By the mid-1850s production was over sixty million tons p.a. Mines were sunk ever deeper to meet the demand.

But coal’s success story had a terrific human cost: thousands of men, women and children were killed down the mines and at the pit brow. You can find out more about working conditions in the mines in my books The Children History Forgot and Narrow Windows, Narrow Lives. There are also some tips on how to trace your coal-mining ancestors, in my feature for this month’s Discover My Past England (now on Genes Reunited) and in my forthcoming book Tracing Your Lancashire Ancestors.

Images from the author’s collection:
‘How are you off for coals?’ Satirical postcard from the miners’ strike of 1912.

The New Hartley Pit disaster in Northumberland on 16 January 1862 killed over two hundred men and boys. This Illustrated London News (8 February 1862) engraving shows the long, sad funeral procession at Earsdon.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

At home with the Georgians

I finally managed to catch up with Amanda Vickery's new series At Home with the Georgians, and this is a 'must-see' for all Austen fans. Vickery is one of my favourite authors on the period, and I thoroughly enjoyed the programme. When Vickery visited Chawton Cottage and sat at Jane Austen's writing desk, you could see the thrill she felt on being on such hallowed ground.  Vickery also explored the other side of the marriage question through the diaries of some Georgian men - how they longed to set up home and have a soul mate to keep them company. Surely food for thought for all budding Regency novelists!