Day 15 #bfotc sources

Day fifteen of the ‘advent calendar’ focusing on some of the historical/genealogical sources that I used in the writing of Barefoot on the Cobbles.

DSCF1035On day three I mentioned one of the ways in which I researched the railway journeys taken by my characters when traveling between Clovelly and Torquay. Not only did I need to investigate likely routes but also the timetable that might have applied at the time. Fortunately, my library includes facsimile copies of Bradshaw’s Railway Guides. My copies are for 1922, 1923 and 1938 and I suspect that there may have been an adapted timetable during the war but I felt that these were close enough and at least this gave me an indication of how long each leg of the journey may have taken. My copies were reprinted in 1985 by Guild Publishing and there are some available on the second-hand market.

More information about Barefoot on the Cobbles can be found here. Copies are available at various events and at all my presentations. You can order from Blue Poppy Publishing or directly from me. Kindle editions are available for those in the UK, USA, Australasia and Canada.

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Day 14 #bfotc sources

Day fourteen of the ‘advent calendar’ focusing on some of the historical/genealogical sources that I used in the writing of Barefoot on the Cobbles.

Torquay Town Hall HospitalTwo of the longest chapters in the novel are set in war-time Torquay. Torquay was the home-town of the crime writer Agatha Christie. She does make an appearance in the book, although you might not recognise her. Like my character, Winnie, Agatha worked at the Town Hospital in Torquay, nursing convalescent servicemen. The BBC website includes a recording, in which Agatha reminisces about Torquay during the First World War. There are additional links that give further information about life in Torquay at the time.

More information about Barefoot on the Cobbles can be found here. Copies are available at various events and at all my presentations. You can order from Blue Poppy Publishing or directly from me. Kindle editions are available for those in the UK, USA, Australasia and Canada.

Day 13 #bfotc sources

Day thirteen of the ‘advent calendar’ focusing on some of the historical/genealogical sources that I used in the writing of Barefoot on the Cobbles.

William HardingA novel about a coastal community is bound to include characters who were in the merchant service and Barefoot is no exception. I was fortunate to have access to the seaman’s log, that had been handed down in the family, for one of the characters. This gave personal details, a description, a photograph and details of the various ships on which he served. In this way, I knew exactly which ship he was on at the end of the war, where he had been, where and when he docked and the name of the captain. I also used the seaman’s records on FindmyPast. These include transcriptions of the crew lists for 1861-1913 and the images of the records held in class BT350 at the National Archives, for the period 1918-1941.

More information about Barefoot on the Cobbles can be found here. Copies are available at various events and at all my presentations. You can order from Blue Poppy Publishing or directly from me. Kindle editions are available for those in the UK, USA, Australasia and Canada.

Day 12 #bfotc sources

Day twelve of the ‘advent calendar’ focusing on some of the historical/genealogical sources that I used in the writing of Barefoot on the Cobbles.

Elsie_Howey

Elsie Howey

No novel set in the early years of the twentieth century should ignore the campaign for women’s suffrage. The incident that took place in Clovelly was a gift and I sought to find out more about the three women who were involved in this militant action. In another one of those co-incidences that peppered my research for this book, it turned out that one of the three, Elsie Howey, was, at the time, leader of the suffragettes in Torquay and Paignton. In reality, I don’t know what led my character, Daisy, to take a job up in Torquay. I toyed with using the suffragettes as the mechanism that accounted for Daisy’s move. In the end, I devised another plausible scenario but I still wonder if she knew and remembered that one of these women had links to Torquay. There is useful online information about Elsie and the Torquay suffragettes that I was able to use.

More information about Barefoot on the Cobbles can be found here. Copies are available at various events and at all my presentations. You can order from Blue Poppy Publishing or directly from me. Kindle editions are available for those in the UK, USA, Australasia and Canada.

Day 11 #bfotc sources

Day eleven of the ‘advent calendar’ focusing on some of the historical/genealogical sources that I used in the writing of Barefoot on the Cobbles.

1Getting the timing correct is important when writing an historical novel. Firstly, I needed to make sure I knew the day of the week when certain events took place. There a number of perpetual calendars online but my favourite is Time and Date. Not only can you create calendars for any year of your choice but you can also check the dates of movable feasts such as Easter. In the early twentieth century, traditional Bank Holidays were not all at the times of year that we now recognise. Particularly as I was writing about a tourist area, it was crucial that I acknowledged this. This site also gives phases of the moon. I was not looking for the chance to re-create romantic walks by the light of a full moon but the moon governs the tides, which was important to my story. Family historians can have fun with this site, working out what day of the week great-granny was born.

More information about Barefoot on the Cobbles can be found here. Copies are available at various events and at all my presentations. You can order from Blue Poppy Publishing or directly from me. Kindle editions are available for those in the UK, USA, Australasia and Canada.

Day 10 #bfotc sources

Day ten of the ‘advent calendar’ focusing on some of the historical/genealogical sources that I used in the writing of Barefoot on the Cobbles.

CaptureWhen I decided that Daisy and Winnie would pay a visit to the ‘picture palace’, I was aiming to reflect the increasing popularity of the cinema at the time. Having chosen the appropriate main feature and ‘B’ film, that might have been shown, I decided to add a newsreel. These three elements would have been the norm in the early twentieth century and indeed for several decades afterwards. In order to pick the correct newsreel for the date, I turned to the Pathé News website. Here you can search the British Pathé and Reuters historical collection for clips from 1910-1970. You are able to search by place name, by personal name or by topic but I was concerned with a date. The site allows you to preview the clips, so I sat, as Daisy and Winnie would have done, to watch the news for mid-1918, trying to imagine myself in the plush cinema of the 1910s. In a ‘hairs stand up on the back of the neck’ moment, I discovered that Daisy would have viewed a newsreel relevant to her Clovelly home. Readers will think that is too much of a contrivance and I made it up. I didn’t.

More information about Barefoot on the Cobbles can be found here. Copies are available at various events and at all my presentations. You can order from Blue Poppy Publishing or directly from me. Kindle editions are available for those in the UK, USA, Australasia and Canada.

Day 9 #bfotc sources

Day nine of the ‘advent calendar’ focusing on some of the historical/genealogical sources that I used in the writing of Barefoot on the Cobbles.

Monthly Weather ReportMany of the characters in Barefoot in the Cobbles living in the countryside or earn their living from the sea. The impact of the weather was immense. I was determined to reflect the actual weather conditions of the time. Fortunately, thanks to the Met Office, monthly weather reports are online for the period between January 1884 and December 1993. Thus, they were available for the time in which the novel is set. The rainfall, temperature, wind and hours of sunshine are all mentioned and there are indications of regional variations. If I describe heatwaves, stormy weather or heavy rain, then these conditions really did prevail in the west country at the time.

More information about Barefoot on the Cobbles can be found here. Copies are available at various events and at all my presentations. You can order from Blue Poppy Publishing or directly from me. Kindle editions are available for those in the UK, USA, Australasia and Canada.