I often talk about combining empathy and imagination with factual evidence when writing about history because that’s what works for me. The story of an individual becomes real when I can picture them clearly going about the everyday tasks in life. That’s just imagination but empathy adds something extra, the ingredient that allows a writer […]
What has kept me going for more than a decade of research? The answer’s simple: there’s always something new to be discovered, something that’s been hidden nearly two hundred years and as each new piece of information adds to the story, everything becomes more clear.
Since researchers and biographers first became interested in finding out more about the Molloys, we’ve entered the digital age and as each year passes more and more old documents become available via the Internet. Even when I thought I’d found everything there was to discover, more kept coming to the surface. It’s possible that some findings may be proven incorrect by future research and new information will come to light so it’s important to continue the work and to share as much as possible.
Here are just a few research moments from the last eleven years.
On 6th June 1830 Georgiana collected some ‘little blue flowers. and placed them in her baby’s coffin before she nailed down the lid. She wrote later that there was very little else in flower because it was the beginning of winter. A few weeks ago Mike and I went to Augusta with botanist Dr Alex […]
The research journey of discovering more about Georgiana Molloy and her life has been a long one – more than a decade – and it continues now, even after the publication of the new Picador edition of my book. I think that’s what it is about research that fascinates and motivates and keeps you going […]
This is an 1829 George IV farthing. Prince George acted as Regent during the mental illness of his father, King George III, giving the name ‘Regency’ to a distinctive period of English design in clothing and architecture based on his lavish tastes. In 1821, Georgiana was at boarding school in London when the coronation of […]
Georgiana Molloy’s face appears on many web pages and in many books and documents, the image usually taken from photographs of the only known surviving portrait of her as an adult. That 1829 painting feels almost familiar and yet most people I talk to are not aware that the original is a miniature. It can […]
Old documents fascinate for so many different reasons. Here’s an example of the way a writer’s own world is almost made real again in the words used. This builder was writing to Georgiana’s father requesting payment for materials and work on the family home, Crosby Lodge, in 1807. The amounts owing on this invoice were […]
In November 1839 Georgiana received the sudden and very surprising news that her sister Mary Kennedy had arrived in Perth. A passing soldier brought this information on the same day that her mother’s letter arrived saying Mary was on her way to live with the Molloys. The house at Vasse had no window shutters and […]
Sometimes it really does take an expert to untangle historical clues. Looking carefully and researching widely can only get you so far without serious expertise in a specific field. I’ve been looking more carefully at our photographs of the pen nib in Georgiana’s workbox and wondering how to work out whether it belonged to her […]
It’s late spring in Western Australia and that makes it difficult to post anything that isn’t botanical! So many WA native plants are flowering profusely and I can’t look through the window without seeing new blooms appearing nearly every day: this morning, blue sun orchids. Among the most vivid colours are the boldly-coloured ‘red and […]
The Reverend John Besley DCL From Tiverton in Devon, the son of the local mayor, Besley was a talented and charismatic man, educated at Balliol College (Oxford University) and always destined for a successful career in the church. After working in a prestigious but rather poorly paid role as librarian at the world […]