"It was imprudent of us, in the first place, to become authors. We could have become something regular, but we managed not to.
We were lucky, but we were also determined." Roy Blount Jr

"I don’t change the facts to enhance the drama. I think of it the other way round, the drama has got to fit the facts,
and it’s your job as a writer to find the shape in real life."
Hilary Mantel

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Shocking Facts about my London Trip...

When I travelled to London last month, I went specifically to research the historical novel I'm writing. Part of this involved spending long hours in libraries and rare document rooms, reading broadsides, proclamations, wills, lists of household possessions, newspapers, pedigrees, architectural tomes, and other material relating to aristocratic and royal life during the late 17th century.

But the most important reason for going, in fact, was to stare at a portrait of a young woman. It hangs in Hampton Court Palace. Check out my sidebar. (The photo is not one of mine.)

I have got a badly-focussed photo of my own, surreptitiously shot inside that same room. (There was a changing of the guard in progress, and backs were turned...)

The insatiable researcher will go to nefarious lengths to get what she thinks is important. Especially when her husband voluntarily uses his tall frame to shield her suspicious activities.

Happily, and perhaps undeservedly (criminal that I am) I've also got a most excellent and clear coloured print of that portrait, which I received as soon as I arrived home. I requested it from the Royal Archives. I had already obtained a different one, an engraving made at a later stage of her life, provided by the National Portrait Gallery. My collection of images of the people in this book is mostly complete.

I won't even mention a few plant cuttings sneakily removed from the palace gardens, all potted up and contentedly striking new roots.

Obsessive? Greedy? Desperate? That's me. Along with most authors I know.

I've just loaded web pages about the trip. The links are in the sidebar, under the portrait.

Eventually I'll put up pages for my time in Bratislava and Prague, where I was far better behaved. Only I'm battling some nonfic deadlines and have various meeetings and gatherings in coming days, so no telling when I'll get round to it.

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