Happy second Blogiversary to me: The future

Do you believe in serendipity and synchronicity? The strange forces at play when various unrelated events appear to coincide with each other? As 2013 drew to a close, I had my own piece of inexplicable synchronicity.

In my last post, when I reflected back on two years of writing a blog, I told how it came about that my severely dyslexic son is now in a school for dyslexic children. This hasn’t just been a change for him but also for me as it’s meant the end to my career and working life in London. His wonderful school is in the wrong direction to London and there are absolutely no means by which I can do the school run both ends of the day whilst working in London. So, I’ve had to give up my London-based career of 30 years, and once he settled in his new school last term, I was about to start looking around for a new one.

Just as I was about to start making my plans, into my email inbox flew an unsolicited email from a commissioning editor from Amberley Publishing – a mainstream publisher of local and specialist history book. The editor had read my blog and wanted to talk to me about commissioning me to write a history book! Much toing and froing of emails went backwards and forwards between us until finally, just before Christmas, they agreed to commission not just one, but three history books from me.  I now appear to have a new career as a fledgling author of local history books.  A strange coincidence that just when, for the first time in my adult life, I had time on my hands to write and needed a new career, Amberley Publishing were looking for new authors and stumbled across my blog. Coincidence or synchronicity?

So now, I’m officially researching for my books and will be writing each of them in the coming months and years.  If you have read my blog over the last two years, you will know that I am an obsessive collector of old vintage postcards – particularly those depicting our country’s rich past – moments in time captured by our ancestors through their camera lenses.  It will be no surprise to you, therefore, that each of my books is based around vintage postcards on a particular theme or subject.

Here are the titles and release dates for each of my books.

Bishop’s Stortford Through Time
(publication date: late 2014)
This book continues Amberley Publishing’s Through Time series of fully illustrated books which traces towns and villages of Britain by comparing vintage postcards to modern-day photographs.  My book will tell the story of this Hertfordshire market town through postcards dating from the first half of the twentieth century, compared to modern day photographs of the same locations. Bishop’s Stortford has a rich heritage and rural past before urban regeneration took place and transformed it into the large sprawling town it now is, with a growing population of just under 40,000.  I hope to capture some of its past in my book and show the town as it once was in its Edwardian and pre-First World War heyday.

Bishops Stortford - The Old Boar's HeadBishop’s Stortford – The Old Boar’s Head

Bishops Stortford - Cricket Field LaneBishop’s Stortford – Cricket Field Lane

Bishops Stortford - The River StortBishop’s Stortford – The River Stort

Sudbury, Lavenham and Long Melford Through Time
(publication date: Summer
Continuing Amberley Publishing’s Through Time series of illustrated books about Britain’s towns and villages, this book will trace these three beautiful medieval  Suffolk wool towns through Edwardian, pre-First World War and inter-war postcards. It is ironic that the continuing existence of many of Suffolk’s outstanding medieval buildings bear testimony to the collapse of the wool trade in the area.  This collapse led to rural poverty, which, in turn, meant that many medieval Suffolk buildings were left in tact and were not “enhanced” or replaced by the enterprising Victorians. Many Edwardian postcards of these three towns show these medieval buildings – which were once homes and trading-places of fabulously wealthy merchants – but in the Edwardian period reduced to unsanitary and poverty-stricken living quarters.  Modern photographs will show how these buildings have been restored in modern times to their former medieval glory.

Lavenham, The Guildhall of Corpus ChristiLavenham, The Guildhall of Corpus Christi

Long Melford, The GreenLong Melford, The Green

Sudbury, Thomas Gainsborough's birthplaceSudbury, Thomas Gainsborough’s birthplace

Postcards from the Front: Britain 1914-1919
(publication date: Summer 2016)
During the Great War (and in the years immediately afterwards), soldiers, sailors and nurses regularly sent home postcards to their loved ones. With the censors removing anything which could give away the sender’s location or military strategy, most soldiers posted simple messages sending their love to all at home. In amongst the hundreds of thousands (if not, millions) of postcards sent home from the Front, some postcards have short messages giving fuller testimony to experiences of war. This book recounts the stories of a few of Britain’s men and women who served in the Great War through their postcards home. This book was entirely inspired by my post Postcards from the Front – from you loving son.  I am so happy that I have been given the opportunity to turn this one post into a full book and so can retell the stories of some of the men and women who gave their today for our tomorrow.

Postcards from the Front: Christmas Day in the trenches 1916Postcards from the Front: Christmas Day in the trenches 1916

Postcards from the Front: Christmas Day in the trenches 1916The flag we are willing to sacrifice our lives for in order that they may continue to float over free peoples. What I tale I will have to tell you all later of a Xmas day in the trenches. Fred

The future of my blog?
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to persuade Amberley Publishing to commission a Through Time book on Great Dunmow as the population of the town isn’t big enough.  A shame in one respect because I have so many previously unpublished postcards of the town, but good in another respect because it means I can keep blogging my stories about Great Dunmow – which, for contractual reasons, I wouldn’t have been able to do, if I was writing a book about the town.  So my blog will continue… when I have time to write posts.

I would also like to find a publisher for a book retelling some of  my stories about Tudor Essex. For example: the witches of Tudor Essex; the assize judge who condemned many Essex people to death; and the (not so) invisible women of Tudor Essex.  If any publisher or e-publisher would like to commission me to write a book on Tudor Lives of Essex, I would love to hear from you.  In the meantime, I hope to continue to write stories about the Tudor Lives of Essex folk on my blog.

A plea for help…
If you can help me in any way with vintage postcards of subjects for any of my books, please do get in touch with me at thenarrator[at]essexvoicespast.com. Or, if you can help me with access to any areas – schools, churches, stately homes – so that I can take modern-day photographs of the towns and villages I am writing about, please do contact me.

There is one final part of strange coincidences to this story. Amberely Publishing are based in the small Cotswold town of Stroud – the very town where I grew up and spent my formative teenage years. A town I once knew and loved well.  I hope to be spending some happy hours revisiting my childhood roots when I visit “my” publishers.

© Essex Voices Past 2014

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16 Responses to Happy second Blogiversary to me: The future

  1. Valkrye says:

    Hello, I have been subscribed to your blog for awhile now and although I am not from Essex, enjoy so many of your posts . There is so much of interest here whether you are a native of the county or area. I love British history and this is one of my favorite ways in which to read about it~ a first hand account ,as well as being so full of anecdotes and personal stories from a variety of sources over a long period of time. I do hope you will be able to get your work published as it certainly deserves to be read more widely and should really be of value to anyone interested in the history of Essex.or England. I have particularly enjoyed both the Tudor stories as well as your own personal tales and photos . Your memories certainly enrich the history. Many Wishes for a Happy Blog-i versary to you and do hope you will continue to post and relate your stories . Thank you for sharing your knowledge and love of the places there.

    • the narrator says:

      Thank you for your kind comment. I often wonder if I write too much anecdotal and personal stories – but my readers seem to like my style – so I guess I’ll carry on.

      • Valkrye says:

        Re: personal comments , please do not consider omitting them as they make the history become even more alive and meaningful I think. Isn’t that was ‘his (her) -story” really means? Facts and dates are important but what really makes it all live and mean anything at all is what individuals felt, did , thought , wore , ate , wrote and dreamed about, yes? Do keep posting when ever you can as really enjoy your blog. Congratulations !

  2. What fabulous news! Congratulations. :~))

  3. Catherine says:

    How wonderful… and fully deserved. CONGRATULATIONS!!!

  4. Andrew Jones says:

    Wow! That’s great news, and well deserved. I hope you continue to enjoy it, and look forward to learning of the results.

  5. Valerie says:

    Congratulations Kate. Well deserved success. I hope you’ll enjoy doing the books and am so glad you will be continuing with your blog, which I have enjoyed reading since we met over a year ago. Val

  6. Anne says:

    Hi Kate.

    I just discovered your blog through the Worldwide Genealogy blog.

    I read a couple of posts and found them interesting and look forward to reading more of them. I love the way you write.

    Good luck with writing your books.

  7. Martin Weaver says:

    I received a copy of the Sudbury Lavenham and Long Melford through Time book. Living in Lavenham there are small corrections to make to chapter 3 on Lavenham :
    Page 58 the caption should read Horse-Hair Factory not House-Hair.
    Page 55 shows the top photograph to be of Shilling Street but the wording relates to Prentice Street. Similarly on page 56 the top photograph is marked Prentice Street but the wording below is for Shilling Street.
    Otherwise I found the history of all three places very interesting

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