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Week 12: Very “historical” fiction

While I am doing my research I am mentally visualising the people I am looking at in the census or on a certificate and trying to imagine what their life was like; their house, the street, what they were wearing and how they spent their time. Because I read, and still do, so much historical fiction it also crosses my mind that one day I will write a family saga like the ones I have read but it hasn’t happened yet and I wouldn’t be able to create anything as interesting as a Catherine Cookson novel! In the meantime I shall keep looking for historical novels which help add colour to my imaginings.

My preferred reading diet has always been historical fiction, often chosen by the thickness of the spine, or the weight of the book, rather than its literary merit although I was reasonably selective and wasn’t bothered about historical romance so some authors/publishers were never touched. A family saga was the best to come across or I would work my way through a particular author. Alongside my favourite authors I read all the classics such as Hardy, the Brontes, Gaskell, D H Lawrence and Dickens and I very much enjoyed War and Peace (a bex set bought with my No, 6 vouchers).

On my return to the UK from Belgium after 32 years of having to buy not borrow books, I donated nearly a thousand  well worn paperbacks but some 30 boxes of books still came back to England with me. (I have since pruned them drastically.)

My prefered tv watching seems to consist of the various detective shows and other so called procedural shows (I never watch the real crime shows only the fictional) so combine that with my family history interests and what else could I be reading recently but Nathan Dylan Goodwin (Morton Farrier and Mrs MacDougall) , Steve Robinson (Jefferson Tayte) , M J Lee (Jayne Seymour).

A google search these days brings up the most recent and living authors, and will include the “classic” such as Dickens and Hardy,  but my favourites are less popular then they were and are probably out of print anyway as fashion has changed and their popularity waned, unless they were televised. However, I’m sure a hunt around in a charity book shop might bring some up, or maybe some libraries will still have them on their shelves and amazon marketplace will them too. Some are available for the kindle.

So which authors made it back to England? These are some of  the most prolific of the authors, they were all best sellers when they were writing.

Catherine Cookson – She wrote about what she knew and her books were mainly set in the North of England

Norah Lofts – East Anglian and mostly Suffolk based stories.

Eleanor Hibbert aka Jean Plaidy, Victoria Holt and Philippa Carr (Daughters of England)

Georgette Heyer – Regency period

Edith Pargeter: Ellis Peters (Brother Cadfael’s medieval mysteries) and other pseudonyms.

Cynthia Harrod-Eagles – The Morland Dynasty

Anne McCaffrey (historical fantasy – it includes dragons! – set in outer space)

I think that the characteristic which they all shared was their attention to the details of the period and were well researched, I have never really read non-fiction from choice and yet I’ve got a pretty good grounding in English history and reading Jean Plaidy starting as a young teenager in chronological order helped with this. She then used the same research for  her other novels.

These are just a small selection of my favourites, but there are other more recent popular authors which are just as well researched but don’t grab my attention in the same way, whether it is because they don’t create the same atmosphere or I find their  characters are less appealing, so they don’t make it to my very personal list.

 

 

Week 30: The Old Country

Week 30: The Old Country

Because we moved around a lot when I was small, it wasn't until I was about 7 years old that we settled in one place when my parents bought a new build bungalow in Rockdale Drive, Grayshott. Four years later they moved on to nearby Headley and then on to...

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Week 27: Solo – choice or circumstance?

Catherine Godfree, born in 1844, was the youngest child of George and Mary Ann Godfree of Great Rissington. She had three older brothers and seven older sisters. Five of the sisters married and had large families, two sisters married but had no children, while two of the brothers never married and the one that did had emigrated to Australia following the death of his father.

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Week 10: Strong Woman

Week 10: Strong Woman

I have been fascinated by the story of my great x2 grandmother, Catherine Whitehill, born in Glasgow on the 31st May 1847. She had a tough life judging by where she lived, yet she raised 9 children to adulthood in 3 cities, Glasgow, Edinburgh and London, at a time when infant mortality was high.

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Week 15: From Fire to Form

Week 15: From Fire to Form

A quick query of my family tree software shows me that of those who have an occupation entered, I have 32 smiths or related occupations of whom 8 are blacksmiths, 2 gunsmiths, 3 silversmiths, and 4 whitesmiths and also some charcoal burners.

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Week 24: Handed Down

Week 24: Handed Down

I have already got a post about my "hand-me-downs", so I have recycled that one this week. It traces the story of Suie Gillett, my maternal great grandmother and shows how easy it is to get things wrong when tracing your family history! The Gillett Spoons Since I...

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Week 6: Same Name

When I saw this prompt, I immediately thought of Jessie Ann Lewcock, who baptised and buried five babies, three of them called Seth, their father’s name. Only her two oldest children survived to adulthood, a daughter, Grace Agnes, and Lewis named for her brother. Her...

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Week 23: Wedding

Marrying the sister of a deceased wife was illegal in Victorian England. " ...under the Marriage Act of 1835, which had the support of the established Anglican church, it was prohibited for a widower to marry his wife’s sister on the grounds of a passage in Leviticus,...

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Week 16: Air

Flying, civilian pilots and air crew, RAF & Fleet Air Arm, ornithologists, fresh air .... When I saw this week's prompt I wasn't sure I had anything to really write about and was intending to write about fresh air as most of the world including me are under...

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Week 9: Disaster

William George Lewcock 1839-1887. St George's Churchyard, Hanworth. William George Lewcock died on the 3rd May 1887 leaving a wife and 8 children, three of whom were under twelve years old. If we have connected the twigs and branches correctly, he is a very distant...

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Week 5: So far away … from “home”

Week 5: So far away … from “home”

........ a light hearted look at genetic heritage. Both my grandmothers were Essex girls, but that is nothing to do with why I support West Ham! The theme tune for Sports Report (right click for the appropriate background music) brings back memories of being...

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Week 11: Serendipity

Week 11: Serendipity

Researching our family history depends on careful research over time, but is often progressed by a large slice of luck! I have had two major ones - both when I was looking for something else, one for my paternal line and one on the maternal. Maternal lucky find My...

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Week 8: Prosperity

Week 8: Prosperity

George Godfree was my great x2 uncle, the sixth child and second son of George and Mary Ann, nee Smith, Godfree of Great Rissington. His father died in 1850, leaving the farm to Mary, "if she wants it", and then to George's older brother. Like many other younger sons...

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Week 7: Favourite Discovery

Week 7: Favourite Discovery

I can't write in great detail about my favourite discovery as it involves living people, but it was very early on in my genealogy research days when I was one of the first members of Genes Connected as it then was. My family had lost touch with a paternal first cousin...

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Week 4: Close to Home

Week 4: Close to Home

​When I decided to take early retirement and come back to England after 32 years living and working in Belgium, I toyed with several places to live. I wanted to be nearish the coast, my parents were living near Ely at the time so investigated Norfolk and Suffolk but...

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Week 3: Long Line

Week 3: Long Line

I was wondering which ancestors to choose this week, but ​I have decided to interpret Long Line as Long List. As soon as you start your family history research, you start collecting bookmarks, favo(u)rites – whatever your browser of choice calls them. The list gets...

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Week 2: Favourite Photograph

This is a hard one. Should it be the picture of Sarah Jane Tompkins née Godfree, a maternal great x2 grandmother, which I see every day as it is hanging over my mantlepiece? She also appears at the top of every page of this website. Perhaps it could be the group one...

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Week 1: Fresh Start

Where to begin? I could write about my personal disappointment about the UK's fresh start tomorrow, or I could write about my own fresh start when I first took advantage of FOM in 1976 and moved to Belgium to work or when I came back to England in 2008. However, I...

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52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks

For some time, I had spotted references to Amy Johnson Crow's genealogical writing challenge, 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, and often thought it would be a good idea but simply never got round to it. This year I saw another reference and as it was at the end of December, ...

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