Category: Victorian Life

It’s out!!

Steam train on viaductFamily Matters is available in Kindle format, and very soon in paperback. Use the links under the Books page to go to Amazon and buy it!

Publication imminent!

Well, Family Matters is ready at last! Or almost. Just a few tweaks needed…
As with the other books, family events have intruded and even now I am trying to get it published whilst moving country (yet again). So the theme of the book is very relevant – it concerns itself with problems to do with family, and shows that family events have a great effect on one’s life.
A railway viaduct over landscapeFor several years I have been tracing my family and building up a family tree. Being a computer person I of course wrote a website, which you can see here. And being a writer, I started to wonder what these people were like and began to give them life in my imagination. I zeroed in on my ancestor John Weston because he took the momentous step of enlisting and going to India. The family had lived in the same part of England for generations, but at this particular time they started to move in all directions – to Australia, to Canada, to the USA and to India. As I delved deeper I discovered how much a time of turmoil and change the middle of the 1800s was.
No doubt they tried to give us an idea of this at school, but it was all dry facts – Corn Laws, Chartists, Industrial Revolution. Lots of capital letters, boring description, facts and dates to be learnt by heart, but no feeling for the people and the reasons why they acted as they did. Or none that penetrated my teenage consciousness anyway. They were not us; they were old, un-hip, uninteresting.
But now, with the internet, and I suspect with maturity, I started to see the people of the time as people, and to see how such massive changes must have seemed to them. They would feel themselves to be on the front of a wave, sweeping forward, riding high, different to their staid forebears. Just like our generation, in the technological revolution which started in the mid twentieth century and shows no sign of stopping. So John and his family became people I could relate to, they acquired personalities, needs and desires, and their story emerged.
Of course there must be a murder – which death to choose? John’s mother died in 1844, he went to India in 1848, and his father married a much younger woman, Maria Kett, in 1849. John had been in Canada – could he have returned just as his mother died, fallen in love with Maria, and lost her to his father? His mother’s death certificate gave Visitation of God as the cause – there would have been an inquest.
And so the story grew, John and his five brothers developed distinct characters, and quite suddenly the family was complete – Robert the autocratic father, Edward the compliant eldest brother who yearns to go to the new lands in the USA, John who hated Canada, but has set his heart on India, Robin forced by his father to be a surveyor when the only thing that interests him is steam technology and the inventions which are springing up from it – and so on as the other sons quickly invented themselves.
There are romances too – with men in their late teens and early twenties how could there not be? And I see no reason why a mystery has to be a dry puzzle in the Christie tradition. As I said in an earlier post, there is plenty of precedent for portraying real people with preoccupations of their own outside the main thread of the book.
I hope you enjoy reading about John and his brothers, and that I have been able to give you a feel for how it would have been to live at that time.

The English Middle Classes in 1844

We all know how it was in Victorian times – we’ve seen innumerable films and BBC series showing precisely how they lived. But the households shown are large, with many servants, children going to boarding schools, the parents nobility or upper classes. (more…)

Family Matters

It occurs to me that in my new mystery the railways play a substantial part, and yet I voluntarily live on an island which has none. During the British rule here, of course, they built one, but practically nothing remains of it. After all, Malta is so small you can walk from end to end in a day or two. The line was proposed in 1870 and opened in 1883. It was seven miles long, from the new capital Valletta to the old one Mdina. Not surprisingly it never prospered and finally died when the state got tired of subsidising it in 1931. (more…)

Work in Progress

In the first two books most of the characters were associated with computers and software, and the action was set in London and the home counties (apart from a murder on a jolly to Barcelona) – and maybe in the last decade or two of the twentieth century.
The next book moves back over a century to Northamptonshire in 1844, (more…)