Death in the Archives

Here’s another piece I wrote during my Arvon creative writing week for history writers. I’ve taken some old research and done something new with it. The aim of this piece was to be present in the text as a character, talking about myself and reflecting on my own experiences. The other aims were to fill the piece with changes of ‘texture’, as our tutor called it. It seems an odd word, but it makes sense: a piece of writing needs changes of pace, tone, point of view, etc., otherwise the reader feels it’s all too samey and they get bored. A third aim was to try to include dialogue or reported speech, though I only made a token gesture at that.

Death in the Archives Continue reading

La Rentre: Ten books about the Victorians

We’re now well and truly into September, the nights are drawing in and it’s starting to feel a little autumnal. As the French would say, it’s la rentree – that time of year forever associated with going back to school after the holidays.

So why not make the most of that back-to-school feeling by brushing up on your knowledge? Here are ten wonderful books about the Victorians, to ease you back in to historical studies! Continue reading

Christmas in the Asylum

Imagine spending Christmas inside Broadmoor Criminal Lunatic Asylum in the nineteenth century. What a horrible thought!  A long way from the cosy Dickensian Christmas of the roaring fire, Christmas tree, roast goose and plum pudding that the rest of Britain was enjoying.  But was Christmas in the asylum really so much worse than on the outside?

Broadmoor’s main entrance

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Henry Onequi, Broadmoor patient and dastardly villain

My book on Victorian Broadmoor will feature the life stories of many individual patients, some well-known, others less so. But there are some patients that I just can’t squeeze into my book, so I will give you their stories here instead.

This week I present to you Broadmoor patient and dastardly moustache-twirling villain Mr Henry Musgrave Onequi. Continue reading