Thank you for finding your way to my web-site. I hope you enjoy your visit.
I was born in Kent on 22nd August 1940, just in time for Hitler’s Blitzkrieg. Well, one doesn’t exactly plan these things, but as you can see, I lived to tell the tale. The war ended, peace came and so in due course did school. It was there, aged fourteen, that I began writing seriously, mostly satirical and historical essays. I have written on and off ever since.
I’ve been professional now for nearly twenty-five years, starting by contributing historical articles on the city to the Somerset Magazine and The Bath Magazine and writing a few stories for the women’s fiction market. I now write a regular column, Letter From England, for kulturissimo, the monthly cultural supplement of the leading Luxembourgish newspaper Tageblatt.
In 2006, my collection of historical articles was published in a book called Stories of Bath.
Bath is not just a beautiful place, especially in the evening sun, when the pale stone gleams, its every corner has a tale to tell. From the Romans right up to the Second World War, when the Palladian city that is now a World Heritage Site was almost destroyed, Stories of Bath charts in eleven chapters some of the events, the quirky as well as the major, that went towards shaping the city’s history. Stories of Bath is available from most Bath bookshops.
My interests obviously include history, mostly eighteenth and nineteenth century social history, but also the theatre.
For a short while I was a professional actor after training at the Webber-Douglas Theatre School in London. My first job was touring Lilac Time, a musical based on life and works of Franz Schubert, and I was the only non-singer in a cast of really good voices! Fortunately, mine was a straight part, but it taught me a lot about singing and also stagecraft. I was working with men who belonged to the prestigious club of the Water Rats, old-stagers who knew their job, and watching them was a better lesson than theatre school.
I then did a summer season in weekly repertory, playing everything from young girls to mature women in comedy, thrillers and drama. We were a small group working in a Devonshire seaside resort and we did two shows a week. Learning lines at two in the morning and having a dress rehearsal in front of a live audience was nerve-racking, but excellent training. Even so, when I finished the season I decided I wouldn’t return to the professional stage, but had fun taking part in amateur drama productions locally.
Today, though I love going to the theatre and still have family connections in theatre and TV, my days of local drama, much as I enjoyed them, have given way to other interests.
I’m very involved as a Bath City Guide, taking visitors round the city, showing them the sights and explaining points of historical or architectural interest. I also edit the Mayor’s Guides magazine Guidelines.
My particular interest, however, is Jane Austen.
This year I will have lived in Bath a quarter of a century, twenty years longer than Austen, who famously wasn’t very impressed with the city.
However, Bath’s association with the author thrives. As Chair of the local JA literary group, I organize lectures, events and talks for our members. I’ve helped set up an exhibition of the collection of memorabilia from the Austens’ house in Bath, 4, Sydney Place and I give walking tours to show enthusiasts the city Austen would have seen, a very different place from today.
For many years I was a dancer and teacher of the Regency country dances Jane Austen knew and I give illustrated talks on the dancing she enjoyed as well as on the history of dance as it developed. I participated in the Pride and Prejudice 'Readathon', broadcast live on January 28th to celebrate the 200 hundredth anniversary of the novel’s publication.
I have been doing extensive research on Jane Austen’s life for many years, and am just finishing a biography of her, revealing her to be a very different person from the one most people know, or think they know, and I give illustrated talks on her based on this information.
As well as being a volunteer Guide for the Mayor of Bath, giving visitors walking tours of the city, I also do voluntary work for the Georgian house museum at No 1, Royal Crescent, helping train new Guides. It has recently been re-opened after an extensive refurbishment and is now a wonderful example of a Bath town house Grade 1 listed which conveys a real sense of how people lived in late eighteenth century Bath. I enjoy working in the house but meeting visitors from all over the world and hearing their stories is often just as interesting as telling them about the house.
Bath is also famous for its festivals. Music and literature are particularly important to us, with major events and famous names from the world of culture attracting hordes of visitors every year, and as a Festival Steward I get in for free! We don’t have a concert hall so we use the historic buildings. Listening to music in places where Thomas Linley or Venanzio Rauzzini held their concerts 200 years ago gives a special feeling to concert-goers today.
Another hobby is rescuing old books from charity shops! I've discovered some wonderful treasures, there's nothing like an old book, the smell is irrisistible! I may be computer literate, but when it comes to reading, nothing can replace the feel of a real book or the excitement of finding an abandoned rarity.
Apart from my brother and sister, I have four daughters and a grand-daughter who, between them, have three cats and a dog – the latest addition being a little black kitten called Stanley. Providing accommodation for all the animals can be tricky when they all descend on me at once.
Well, I hope you find something of interest to read in the work I’ve posted and thank you for visiting my site. And please come back regularly, as there will always be something new to see and read.