Molloy & Mangles

It’s a bit late for an update on the last year’s work but I really have been busy on other writerly things – not to mention the rolling wave of visitors who all come in January to escape the European winter.

First, very good news, a new book being published later this year that will bring even more readers to Georgiana Molloy’s story. I was delighted to be contacted by the author and to share information and views, and learn more about the book’s journey to publication. It will give an entirely new perspective on her work and although I can’t say more at the moment, I’ll put the details on here as soon as I have the publication date etc.

My own work on Georgiana Molloy has been continuing in bursts for the last year or so, in-between the editing of one novel and the writing of a second, with new information gathering on James Mangles and also on Georgiana’s relationship with her younger sister but my focus has been the content of Georgiana’s own writing, particularly her letters. It doesn’t seem to be common knowledge just how many changes were made to her original texts when they were transcribed and published, even as excerpts.

The nature of the changes is also, sometimes, quite surprising. Not all are, as I once thought, just slips of the pen or the result of trying to decipher the handwriting. Missing out a few words, changing a word to a synonym, or even the deliberate moving of a paragraph within a letter to a different position, can all affect what a modern reader sees as the writer’s original intention. I have made small changes myself at times, to clarify something that might be obscure, but I’ve become very interested in more significant changes that may mean we look differently at what it was that Georgiana was originally saying and her intention, for example in her epistolary relationship with James Mangles.  I’ve presented some of the findings at talks in the last few months but there’s still more work to be done so don’t expect to see anything published until next year!

With so much to do indoors, at a desk, my garden continues to be a joy and an escape whenever words fail me and I need to run from the computer. A critical job in the next two months is desperately trying to help my precious Boronia molloyae survive the hot summer days. I started with four tiny plants (from the Geographe Community Landcare Nursery in Busselton) and this one is the only survivor after five years.

And finally, a delightful piece of information surfaced just a couple of weeks ago, thanks to the combination of my investigations into G’s writing and the botanical knowledge of audience members at a talk I was giving: Georgiana’s own description of her first sighting of the species that would one day bear her name!