Research, fiction writers and perceptions.

Getting lost in research must happen to every writer, especially historical writers. I am currently preparing to write the first in a new series, set in the Wars of the Roses. What sparked the idea? It started with dear old Richard in his car park. The further along the saga went, the more emotionally involved I became. When confirmation that the bones were his was made public, it was a definite shiver down the back moment.

I began to read about the period and very soon, I transferred my interest to Richard’s brother, Edward IV, an extremely underrated monarch who never lost a battle. And he fought plenty. He is known mainly for being ‘beautiful’ and ‘charming’. However, that takes no account of his incredible abilities as a strategist. He knew when to walk away, when to submit, when to make a show of strength and when to forgive. In July 1469, the Earl of Warwick, furious that his puppet-king had demonstrated a mind of its own, took Edward prisoner, first at Warwick Castle, then up to the earl’s stronghold of Middleham. Edward went willingly, pretending that all was well, that he wasn’t really a prisoner, just a guest.

All this time, behind his charming indolent facade, Edward’s brain would have been working overtime. Finally, he became tired of the game. In September 1469, realising Warwick had no power to keep him, he asked the earl what his terms were, agreed to all of them and calmly called for his horse. With the alleged assistance of his Master of Horse, Thomas Burgh, Edward rode away from Middleham to York and then back to London. It wasn’t quite as clean cut as that, of course, but you get the picture.

The aforementioned Thomas Burgh’s, paternal grandmother was a Percy, and therefore a Lancastrian, had a big house in Gainsborough – Gainsborough Old Hall – in Lincolnshire, which, like much of the north was staunchly Lancastrian. Burgh was considered to be a “Yorkist parvenu”,  not liked by his Lancastrian neighbours. They waited until he wasn’t at home, tried to destroy the hall and rob it of as much loot as they could carry. These events are the backstory to the Battle of Empingham, also called Losecote Field. They also happen to be the backstory for the first of the Gethin Wilde Chronicles.

By happenstance, I am also trying out a new outlining system, which allows me time to get all the research done and out of the way before I come to write the book. In theory, I won’t then have to keep stopping and checking. Including pdf book downloads, papers, physical books and ebooks, I now have about 25 items to read. To read, make notes, let the information spark ideas, make more notes and so on. Soon day 1 will come when I actually put words on the screen. But until then, I am enjoying the research so much, I don’t know if I want to stop.

Which leads to several questions. How many historical writers probably know more than scholars about their chosen period? I would hazard a guess that most of us could write a scholarly paper without too much trouble. But how seriously would we “mere fiction” writers be taken by academics? And that’s a whole new can of worms.

Meanwhile, did you know…

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Why Practise Makes Perfect is crap…

At the beginning of 2017, my objective was to get four books, plus the Georgia Pattison Christmas novella published during the 12 month period. My reward would be taking the summer off.

I managed 3 books before the middle of May just before our holiday to Rhodes, which was enjoyable even though I spent the first three days asleep. When we returned, I began to plan my much-needed summer break. I would re-connect with stitching, painting and the piano.

And then I came up against myself. The pedantic perfectionist. It has taken me until almost the end of June to realise I am my own worst enemy and what I need to do about it.

Ash Buckingham is a Lincolnshire artist with a studio a few miles from where I live. A conversation with him this week highlighted my self-defeating behaviour.

‘Painting a picture is nothing to do with reproducing a photograph,’ he said. ‘If it was, you would use a camera. Painting is about enjoying the process, being free. You need to free yourself up.’

When I asked advice about painting from a photograph – what to leave out, how to simplify it – his reply was simple. ‘Take out what you don’t like and can’t paint and see what’s left.’ He made me think, really think.

I get so frustrated when I can’t play the piano as well as I used to. But then, when did I last get on it for any period longer than 10 minutes and really work at it? Years ago. I used to practise every day. I was never anywhere near perfection, but I wasn’t that bad, either. Because I used to practise every day. I’ve repeated that sentence deliberately.

It’s the same with writing, painting, playing instruments, singing and whatever else you want to do well. Practise won’t make you perfect because nothing, absolutely nothing, is ever perfect. But practise will create a habit and that habit will bring improvement. There is a character in The Plague by Albert Camus. He is writing a book. What he is actually doing is trying to write a perfect sentence. Unsurprisingly, the book never gets any further.

It’s the same with writing. If you don’t write something, you can’t edit it. If you can’t edit it, you can’t make it as good as you are able. So, I say don’t go for perfect because you’ll never get there. But do practise. Every day. And, though you won’t produce perfection, you will gain what we all strive for, contentment, satisfaction and having fun on the way.

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Is progress all it’s cracked up to be?

Somebody asked me the other day if there was anything in the past that we do not have now and would like to come back. And the answer is, yes. Caring.

When I first went to work for the then Reckitt & Colman in Hull as their R&D Information Manager, it was my first experience of working for a company that had been formed by Quakers. I know it is easy to decry Victorian values and we hear newspapers trumpet that this political party or that political party will take us back to Victorian times. But not all things Victorian were bad and there were many employers who, yes, went into business to make a profit, but also gave their workers a good standard of living. The Reckitt family in Hull, Titus Salt in Bradford, Cadbury in Birmingham, Terry’s and Rowntree in York, to name but a few.

Reckitt built the Garden Village in East Hull, Lever Bros built Port Sunlight. Good quality housing for their employees with sizeable gardens to grow produce. The other Quaker employers did the same. There was a swimming pool for the employees on the Reckitt site, a bank so nobody had to give up their lunch hour to traipse into the city centre, healthcare and even a visiting chiropodist. A squash court, dance hall, snooker tables. The bosses worked out early that happy healthy employees meant a happy workforce, which meant high production and less sickness.

How different today when employees are regarded as commodities to use, burn out and chuck away all in the name of profit. How many burned-out marketers do we see? Everybody is fed the mantra ‘do more with less’. Sickness is looked on as a weakness. The person who stays at his/her desk until they are hollow-eyed with exhaustion is held up as an example. Employers don’t care if their staff work themselves to death. This is happening all over the world.

More tragically, this attitude is seeping into all aspects of life. People who are ill and/or cannot get work are derided for using foodbanks. Foodbanks!! We need foodbanks in the 21st century and all through governmental and corporate greed and a lack of care.

I still believe those who care outnumber those who don’t. I have to believe that, otherwise what do we have to look forward to? There are still many people, frequently those who don’t have many surplus pennies, who will add extra items to their weekly shopping trolley to put into the cardboard boxes most supermarkets now put out, destined for foodbanks.

And the most tragic thing of all? It’s going to be a long long time until the circle turns and we get back to caring and when we do, I think it might just be too late.

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All Change!

Publishers like series. Readers like series, too and that’s why publishers like series. Authors write series because it is reassuring to build a family of characters and watch them grow through the books and the author doesn’t have to sit and work out a character’s attributes for each book because they become like brothers and sisters and a known quantity.

Just occasionally, though, we like to break ranks and write a standalone with completely new characters. It’s a kind of freedom, like not going to see Aunt Mabel because it’s Tuesday but going to a pop concert instead. This is what happened when I first thought about The Angel Killer. I decided to set it in Wisconsin, the only part of America I know, but when it came to getting down to the nitty-gritty, Wisconsin didn’t work. But Lincolnshire did. Of course, by this time, I had already written 55,000 words!

I can’t begin to list the difficulties bringing the book from the US setting to the UK setting, but here are a few of them. Different police procedure, including the ranks and responsibilities; different speech idioms and rhythms; different food; different landscape; different names for characters even. To paraphrase Auden’s Funeral Blues, I thought this would be easy: I was wrong.

What positive do I bring out of this? Next time, don’t re-write. Adjust the plan and start again. I’ve satisfied the need for the pop concert and will reinstate visiting Aunt Mabel for the foreseeable future. And, just in case Aunt Mabel floats your boat, you can always read the latest book in the Georgia Pattison Mysteries, Laid In Earth.

And the supreme irony? One reviewer has said that the characters in The Angel Killer are too good to only stop at one book and a series would be nice.

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Steaming ahead.

I just love steam trains. My first journey on one of these Leviathans was at the age of 5 from Peterborough to Dover to stay with my grandmother. Just Mum and me. We shared a double bed at Gran’s in a room that looked over the main Dover to Victoria line. I remember quite clearly sitting up in bed watching the trains and wondering about the people who travelled on them, making up little stories for Mum who did her best to listen while still half asleep.

We moved to a different house when I was 6 and, joy of joys, there was a railway at the bottom of the garden. Not as busy as the Dover/London one, and few passenger trains. Freight was the business of the day from the midlands, past our garden, then through to Wisbech and into Norfolk. I used to go into the garden to watch them chug past. And make up adventure stories, which I now realise were based upon Enid Blyton Secret Seven/Famous Five books, where a group of children, including me, of course (and the dog!), solved mysteries around the trains. So, trains played a big part in my early creative writer urge. And, not surprisingly, I have always wanted to go on the Orient Express.

Somehow, the impersonal trains we have on the rails these days don’t have the magic. That is why I regularly visit the National Rail Museum in York to gaze at the enormous Chinese steam engine, stroke the still-gorgeous Mallard and stare into the Victorian and Edwardian royal carriages. And dream a little. I am sure that, in the fullness of time, I will write a historical crime with the railways playing a major role.

The last time I travelled by steam was the autumn of 2016 and the North Yorkshire Steam railway, from Pickering to Whitby and back. And it was on that journey that the story I submitted to the Yorkshire Wolds Railway competition was born. All my fiction is based on crime. I tried to write a romance once but it didn’t take on any kind of life until a murderous smuggling gang became involved. But I digress. Back to the plot.

I didn’t win the competition but my story was accepted for inclusion into the anthology Dreaming of Steam. Smokescreen takes place in the early 1930s and involves skulduggery on the Yorkshire Wolds railway. I’ve read the other stories and enjoyed them immensely. You can find Dreaming of Steam on Amazon here: http://myBook.to/DreamingofSteam or direct from the publisher’s website here: https://www.fantasticbooksstore.com/dreaming-of-steam-306.html

 

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When history is on your doorstep

As I gaze out of my office window in deepest Lincolnshire, I can see, about a mile away across two fields, a few more houses. From the back of the house – how I long to make the bathroom my office and put in a huge picture window – I can see fields, the rise of the Lincolnshire Wolds and lots of trees. In other words, I live in the middle of nowhere.

And yet, within a fifty-minute drive, I can be in in the midst of so much English history.

In Lincoln Cathedral, you can see a facsimile of one of the four copies of Magna Carta brought back to the city by its bishop in 1215. The original is in Lincoln Castle, another fascinating place to explore. The cathedral also houses the tombs of Katherine Swynford, third wife of John of Gaunt and their daughter, Joan Beaufort. In this marriage lay the origins of the Wars of the Roses in the 1460s. We mustn’t forget the Lincoln Imp; find him if you can. A statue of Alfred, Lord Tennyson is on the East Green. I have been to a post-concert gathering in the house where he grew up in the small village of Somersby. There are many trails you can follow from Lincoln, including one about the 1217 Battle of Lincoln, when William Marshal, at the age of 70, led the charge to take the city back from the French.

And when you have visited the cathedral and castle, I invite you to a trip down Steep Hill to see the Jew’s House, now a restaurant, but be mindful that you will have to walk back up the hill!

Gainsborough Old Hall is across the county about 40 minutes away. A mediaeval manor house, it was inhabited by Sir Thomas Burgh who had a land argument with two local magnates in 1469. They tried to burn the hall down and the whole episode ended in a meeting of Lincolnshire rebels and Edward IV at Empingham near Stamford. This is the inciting incident of the first of the Gethin Wilde Chronicles I shall be writing later this year. Other notable visitors were Richard III in 1483 and Henry VIII with Catherine Howard in 1541.

Much nearer my home is Bolingbroke Castle, home of John of Gaunt and where the future Henry IV (stepbrother of Joan Beaufort mentioned above) was born in 1367. A ruin, by courtesy of Oliver Cromwell, it is still well worth a visit.

I couldn’t leave this quick overview of things close to my home without mentioning aviation. RAF Scampton, home to 617 Squadron, the Dambusters, is still a functioning airbase. Much closer to home are two museums. The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Visitor Centre, in the middle of a working airforce base, houses the last flying Lancaster bomber as well as Spitfires, Hurricanes and other notable aircraft. However, there are plans afoot at the Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre in East Kirkby to get their Lancaster, Baby Jane flying by the end of 2017.

So, although from my window, I can only see the beautiful Lincolnshire countryside, in reality, the wealth of the county’s history is just outside my garden.

Publication date 5th and 10th May:

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Looking back…and giggling…

You need to know this first bit for the post to make sense. As my friends know, I am mortally afraid of spiders, although much better than I used to be. For about ten years from the early 90s to the early-mid 2000s, if I was very stressed, I would have what Paul christened spider nightmares. The nightmare part was because the dream always took place where I happened to be physically at that moment. In the dream, the spiders would be huge, run as fast Olympic athletes and could turn, see me and fly to land on my paralysed body. I would wake up screaming. As my life calmed, I began to trust people a little more, the nightmares have now all but ceased.

The other day I was sorting through some stuff and came across my diary for 2004. I began to read it and thought this one entry was too good not to share.

“Mike came round to do the electrics. Bless him, I think the world of him but he is definitely one of life’s bumblers. So, between sorting out various issues, one being a neighbour with problems at work, who cried all over me for about four hours, it was a tiring day. I was knackered when we went to bed.

It was very hot and muggy, so, of course, we had the fan on full. Still too hot, so we were wide-awake at 2am when there was a huge bang and the fan went off. Paul, at first, thought it was a power cut, but we discovered the lights still worked, so he went downstairs to flick the switch and we put the fan into a different socket, just to be on the safe side.

A few minutes later, the empty socket (the one Mike had used as a feed for my new wardrobe light) flashed in a spectacular fashion and everything went off again, except the lights. We daren’t use the sockets. With no fan, we were beyond boiling hot, so pulled back the curtain to let some air in and pushed the covers off. Five minutes later, I felt something tickle my leg and, looking down, I was convinced I saw a spider run over my leg and under Paul’s side of the duvet.

I, of course, leapt out of bed as if all the devils in hell were after me and switched on the light. Paul was convinced that my difficult couple of days and being so tired was feeding my spider phobia and I had simply had a spider nightmare. He tried to persuade me to come back to bed. I was still gibbering with fright and almost hysterical. Despite all his soothing words, I wouldn’t go near the bed. So, to show me it had been a spider nightmare, he threw back the duvet to show me there was no spider.

That was when he saw how bloody big it was – about 2” across and I am not exaggerating, he said a word that sounded like duck and threw himself out of bed. By this time, the spider had worked out his (her) journey had not been one of his (her) better ideas and began to leg it back across the bed to my side. With unerring precision, Paul smacked it with his slipper, so my side was decorated with an enormous damp patch of squished spider. I went to sleep downstairs.

Next morning I said to Paul ‘Bloody hell, she was a big spider’, to which he replied. ‘Ah, but it might have been he and we haven’t seen she yet.’ Then he went off to work.”

Coming soon:

 

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Shades of Agatha Christie or why the right thing isn’t always best for your needs…

Some time ago, I decided my early-music soprano, Georgia Pattison, needed a love interest. I was, and still am, also working on a new historical crime series set in the Wars of the Roses, beginning in 1469 and thought how interesting it would be to join the two things up. So I invented Ned Broome, (The Midnight Clear). Ned is now Sir Edward Broome, since his father was murdered and, yes, Georgia stuck her nose in, as usual, and found the killer. I chose the surname Broome, since the Plantagenets took their name from the plant Planta Genista also known as the common broom, a pretty yellow shrub. I once read that anyone with the surname Broom or Broome has their origins as ‘wrong side of the blanket’ Plantagenets, but my book on British surnames cannot confirm that.

In the new full-length Georgia Pattison mystery, Laid in Earth, Ned also appears. As is usual, I intend to make a promotional video for the book launch and set about looking for a picture of a handsome, blonde man who satisfied my mental image of Ned Broome. And I found him. Yay. However, nowadays, it is necessary to get permissions etc. to use photographs in such presentations. This meant I had to find out who my blonde, handsome hunk was. Luckily, after some to-ing and fro-ing, a Facebook friend found him and sent me the information. And here is the not-so-yay bit.

In her autobiography, Agatha Christie said she used to sit on buses and trains and she would see someone who was perfect for a character she was creating. She used to then make a point of getting as far away from the person as possible. If she heard them speak, the magic died. If she accidentally found out anything about them, the magic died. She could no longer see them as the character she had intended.

You can see what is coming, can’t you? I found my perfect Ned Broome in a photo of an unknown man. But now, he isn’t Ned any more. He is a Canadian model called Gabriel Aubry, who had a relationship with Halle Berry, had a daughter by her and who got beaten up by Berry’s next squeeze. By all accounts he is an exceptional father. But, sadly, he cannot bLaid in Earth cover copye Ned Broome because I know about his real life.

What does this mean for the promo vid? It means I must use shadows and outlines for the video, but, it also means I must find another blonde handsome hunk and make no attempt to discover his real identity. Shame, but that’s writing for you!

 

Laid in Earth, the second full-length Georgia Pattison Mystery, coming soon…

 

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Promo video/visual presentations for authors

This is aimed at writers who are not necessarily computer wizards and just need a few pointers on how to put together a short video/slideshow presentation to upload to social media to publicise their books and raise their author profile. I shall use the term video throughout for convenience.

First point is that it is vital you create this show in plenty of time and not at the last minute. There will be snags and you do not want to sit at your computer tearing out your hair as I did trying to create the video for Dearly Ransomed Soul, from start to finish, in one day. Ending up either in tears or throwing things at the dog is not a good frame of mind. Preparing the video in good time will also give you time to play with it because you are not time deadlined and the whole process will be more enjoyable.

If you need to look at the vehicle for your video I suggest you go to your favourite search engine and enter “Slideshow software” or “video software” as a search term to see what is out there, how much it costs and what it does. In other words, do your research, just like you do when you are writing a book.

The most used software at the moment is probably Animoto www.animoto.com  – videos are easy to create and you can get 30 seconds worth free but you will pay through the nose for anything more. If you only want to do a vid once or twice a year, think carefully. Here is the current pricing structure. https://animoto.com/pricing. That said, you may find the free 30 seconds is fine for what you want to achieve. If you are going to make a video a regular part of your promotion, I also suggest you create a YouTube channel and upload them there. They will be easily accessible and, after you have a few on your channel, you can link your promotion material to the channel itself and not just the individual videos. Prospective readers will then see information on all your books. And, don’t forget that saying about a picture painting a thousand words!

I use iMovie, but this doesn’t always play nicely and, in the case of Weebly, refuses to load into my website, which is why I have changed website provider to WordPress.

Powerpoint. Available in MS Office for Macs and PCs. It can create sophisticated slideshows suitable for presentations to the Board Room, but you need to give yourself time to learn all the bells and whistles for best effect.

Here is a rough template of my process.

  1. When I first began to make promo videos, I subscribed to Animoto and became intoxicated with the powerful tools it has, cramming in as many pictures as possible. However, people surfing the internet get bored very quickly, so I advise making the presentation/video last a minute or 90 seconds at most.
  2. How are you going to go about collecting the material you need, from where and how are you going to present it? Finally, what music do you think will best accompany your show?
  3. Crack on and play. Check it is right before publishing.

Let’s flesh that out.

Planning:

First, you need to write a rough outline of the story you want the video to tell. Choose a few key points in your story and put them in a phrase or sentence. Make the sentences ramp up the tension. Include a question or two, especially in the last picture. Don’t forget, everything is tweakable, so don’t agonise too much at this point. Avoid using too many pictures, my main failing in the early Tudor Enigma videos. If you check the YouTube link below, you will see that all my early videos have pictures whizzing past at breakneck speed.

Ideally, in the space of a minute, you only have time for 8 or 9 pictures, otherwise your audience will go cross-eyed and feel a tad seasick. If your software allows and the picture is appropriate, use two captions for one picture. Just because you can change your picture doesn’t mean you have to.

Now you know the caption for each picture, you will have a better idea of what kind of pictures and music will match. Go find them.

And here is a word of, not caution, but warning.

Do not assume you can romp into Google images or music sites and start downloading and using the pictures you find there. 98% of them will be subject to copyright. If you find the perfect picture, try to contact the copyright holder and ask their permission to use it. If you do not, you are liable to prosecution and a HUGE fine. Trust me, I’m a librarian!

Read this – http://libanswers.anglia.ac.uk/faq/78776

And this – https://www.copyrightservice.co.uk/copyright/p01_uk_copyright_law

Infringing copyright is THEFT!

Collecting your source material

Right, now I have scared you half to death, how do you find the material you want?

There are several websites where images are free. I use www.pixabay.com, http://www.publicdomainpictures.net  or https://picjumbo.com. I am also lucky enough to have a husband who can manipulate photos that we have taken. I sometimes realise I only need part of a picture, so I crop that in Powerpoint or Paul plays with it in Affinity. The most famous software for photo manipulation is Photoshop, but it is extremely expensive.

Here is another beware. Loads of websites like Shutterstock, Dreamstime, freedigital photos et al, all have the word free in their search engine banners. They are not free. Earlier, I said about creating your show in good time and not at the last minute. Why? Because in the stress of trying to get the whole thing put together and out there, you can fall into the trap of signing up to these image providers, only to find afterwards that there is probably a month’s trial free, after which you pay megabucks for each image. If you do sign up, you will find your inbox stuffed with spam e-mails for months afterwards. Of course, if money is no object, go right ahead.

Music can be more tricky. There are no fixed amounts of a song you can use without violating copyright. Beware of sites that come with added payload you don’t know about, downloading things like MacKeeper to your computer and making Yahoo your default homepage without your permission or knowledge. You only find out this has happened when you click onto your Internet Homepage and find it isn’t the one you are used to. Download a programme called Malwarebytes Anti-Malware or similar to help identify and delete these unwanted programmes if this happens to you.

Because many music sites come and go on an almost daily basis, my best advice is to enter “copyright free music” or “public domain music” (using the double quotes to make the words a phrase search) into your favoured search engine.

When I wanted to use Nigel Hess’s It Came Upon The Midnight Clear for the accompanying music to the Georgia Pattison Christmas short The Midnight Clear, I wrote and asked him. I was permitted to use one minute of the track on Facebook, Twitter and my website until 31st January. Very restricted, especially when the Weebly website upload stalled incessantly.

I have now put public domain music on that video and The Midnight Clear is on my YouTube channel (link below). Notice how the music is placed so that it begins to grow on the words The family dinner was not. The music helps increase the tension of the video. Compare the number of pictures in that video with the others. It is far less frenetic. If you do write and get permission to use music, make sure you acknowledge that in the video.

A final word on music. It can make or break a video. When the film Jaws was run without the music, the test audience laughed in the opening scenes where the shark is swimming back and forth. When the iconic soundtrack was added, some of the audience screamed.

Time to PLAY…

This is the fun bit. Getting the pictures in the right order, making sure they match the caption, getting the right bit of the music – if you end the video on a tense point, you need the music to reflect that, so it would be most logical use the end where it comes to a climax. When you are happy, keep playing the finished product through. Wait until next day and play it through again to make sure. Chances are you will find something that needs tweaking. At this point, you can publish it.

To sum up. 

  • Don’t do this if time is short. Leave enough time to get it right without you becoming frazzled.
  • Plan and outline what you want the video to say. This is a marketing tool after all.
  • Do not infringe copyright. Get permission if you cannot find a suitable alternative.
  • Keep all photos for your videos in one folder. You may be able to use them next time.
  • Remember that the video clip will likely be small in frame size and not hi-res so there is no point in having huge and busy pictures.  A small portion of a picture is more likely a better choice.

Happy Playing!!!

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Philanthropists? Are there any left?

In today’s world, filled with hate and division, often fostered by a cynical media to sell more of their product, it would be easy to think philanthropy is dead. Far from it. Looking at a list of people on both sides of the Atlantic, who are happy to pay their luck and good fortune forward, there are more than one would think. To mention but a few, in America, Michael Bloomberg has given, among other donations, £1.1 billion to the John Hopkins University. Sir Ganesh Dutt gave all his earnings to charitable works. Bill Gates is known for his charitable trusts.

 

And, the person I must single out, Andrew Carnegie, an American born in Scotland, who funded libraries for all. One of his most famous quotations is No person will make a great business who wants to do it all himself or get all the credit. On this side of the pond, we have Sir Tom Hunter, Gordon and the late Anita Roddick, the late George Michael, J K Rowling and, perhaps a little surprisingly, Sir Elton John.

 

But where did it all start? Mostly with Quakers in the 19th century. Caring factory owners who had made their money in industry and wanted, initially, to make life for their workers happier and healthier. Thus, we have Port Sunight in the Wirral, built by Lever Brothers, Richard and George Cadbury in Birmingham, who built most of Bournville for their employees, Titus Salt in Bradford, Joseph Rowntree in York and James Reckitt in Hull, among others.

 

This last one is very close to my heart, because it was at Reckitt & Colman in the late 1990s I met my husband. I was the R&D Librarian, he was a senior formulation and analytical chemist – in fact, Paul’s name is on the patent for Gaviscon Advance. James Reckitt, son of the original factory owner, built Garden Village to the north of the city and a public library close to the factory. My husband can remember a time when there was a swimming pool on the factory site for the use of the employees! I can remember the bank, open on a Friday morning, so none of us needed to go into the city centre.

 

It can be no surprise then, that given the opportunity to put Reckitt & Sons in a book, I grabbed it with both hands when I wrote Sherlock Holmes and the Oakwood Grange Affair. In the story, Reckitt’s starch plays a central role in the plot. I foreshadowed the building of Garden Village by twenty years, but I am sure James Reckitt’s son was carrying out his father’s wishes.

 

Hull gets such a poor and, in my view, wholly undeserved press, that, in 2017 when it is the City of Culture, I am pleased to have brought some true feelgood history to the table, even if it is in the middle of a Sherlock Holmes story!

You can find Sherlock Holmes & The Oakwood Grange Affair  here.

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Amazon.co.uk – http://amzn.to/2kAeFRc

Amazon.com – http://amzn.to/2kAIHbN

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