Tag Archives: What Elise Wrote


It’s time to start a new novel. It’s partly set in 1940’s Brisbane. I’ve written the prologue and a couple of thousand words of the first chapter. I love Brisbane and I’ve holidayed there many times. I’ve travelled to the far north of the state, staying at Mission Beach, and on visiting a ruined castle in the rainforest found inspiration there for my novel Castle of Dreams. I absolutely love research and going down the rabbit hole is fun but I warn you research is a long piece of string! I found a site on the Internet while researching 1940’s fashion. I will leave the details at the end of this post in case you are interested. It’s a wonderful asset for any writer and also for those with a love of in fashion in general. I hope you enjoy it!

As a writer I have to research the fashions of the time I am writing about and the 1940’s is definitely a period I love. In 1940, American, Claire McCardell introduced her ‘Popover’ dress. Though the wrap dress was originally introduced as a seven dollar utility garment, it quickly became a staple in her arsenal.

Seamwork’s Betsy Blodgett writes of the dress,

“McCardell came up with a denim wrap-front dress. It was simple, chic, and even came with an oven mitt… A version of the Popover wrap dress was included in collections for the rest of her career” (Deconstructing Claire McCardell).

McCardell’s easy to wear, fun, comfortable clothing, like the 1945 striped sundress and the roomy dress and coat ensemble from 1947 continued to be successful into the 1950s. Thanks to the wide appeal of McCardell and Norell, along with the work of London designers such as Hartnell and Amies, both the US and Britain hoped to continue leading fashion on the world stage after the war ended. While their international fashion profiles had increased, liberated Paris was eager to retake its status as the fashion capital. Thanks to Christian Dior, it certainly did.

McCardell’s designs were sporty, casual, and practical. She deftly navigated rationing restrictions and produced designs that went on to be classics. When wool and silk were limited in 1942, she looked to denim, seersucker, and jersey to create classic dresses and separates.

My 1940’s characters including Lili and Caro are sure to wear something similar to these fabulous fashions.

I think this image personifies the 1940‘s.

I’m imagining my character Caro just like this, full of joie de vivre, and rather beautiful.

Lot’s of fun to be had at dances during wartime.

There’s a very special scene I am imagining for my characters who no doubt will attend a dance as it was such a popular outing for young people in the 1940’s.

McCardell’s 1945 striped sundress.

McCardell’s , 1947 Pop-Over dress.


The Fashion History Timeline is an open-access source for fashion history knowledge, featuring objects and artworks from over a hundred museums and libraries that span the globe. The Timeline website offers well-researched, accessibly written entries on specific artworks, garments and films for those interested in fashion and dress history. Started as a pilot project by FIT art history faculty and students in the Fall of 2015, the Timeline aims to be an important contribution to public knowledge of the history of fashion and to serve as a constantly growing and evolving resource not only for students and faculty, but also for the wider world of those interested in fashion and dress history (from the Renaissance scholar to the simply curious).

The Fashion History Timeline is a project by FIT’s History of Art Department. The Timeline offers scholarly contributions to the public knowledge of the history of fashion and design. Consistent with this mission, the Timeline’s written commentary, research, and analysis provided by FIT students, faculty, and other members of the community is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. Unless specifically noted, images used in the Timeline are not subject to this Creative Commons License applied to the written work from the Timeline. While every attempt at accuracy has been made, the Timeline is a work in progress. If you have suggestions or corrections, please contact us.

Claire McCardell (American, 1905–1958). Pop-over, 1942. Cotton. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, C.I.45.71.2a, b. Gift of Claire McCardell, 1945. Source: The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Claire McCardell (American, 1905-1958). Sundress, 1945. Cotton. New York: Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2009.300.230. Gift of the Brooklyn Museum, 2009; Gift of Claire McCardell, 1956. Source: The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Thanks to the Fashion History Timeline and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

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The Wild Girl by Kate Forsyth

Kate Forsyth is the HNSA Patron at the  HNSA Conference Melbourne
8th -10th September 2017.

 Visit our speaker’s page www.hnsa.org.au/speakers for more information.

SUBSCRIBE to our newsletter to hear when early bird registration opens http://eepurl.com/bgWm49 And 

Kate Forsyth wrote her first novel at the age of seven, and is now the award-winning & internationally bestselling author of more than 20 books for both adults and children.

Beauty in Thorns, the extraordinary love story behind the Pre-Raphaelite artist Edward Burne-Jones’s famous painting of ‘Sleeping Beauty’. Other novels include The Beast’s Garden, a retelling of ‘Beauty & the Beast’ set in the underground resistance to Hitler in Nazi Germany; The Wild Girl, the story of the forbidden romance behind the Grimm brothers’ fairy tales; and Bitter Greens, a retelling of ‘Rapunzel’ which won the 2015 American Library Association Award for Best Historical Fiction. Named one of Australia’s Favourite 15 Novelists, Kate has a doctorate in fairy tale studies and is an accredited master storyteller.


The Wild Girl  by Kate Forsyth is storytelling at its best. I enjoyed the richness of the words, the characters who were brought to life and the story which is about love and overcoming adversity. It is a blending of historical fact and fiction. Kate Forsyth has researched the events in the novel and in the afterword the author writes that she listened to the story within the stories that Gretchen told. This helped to plausibly fill in the blanks in Gretchen’s life.


From the back cover:
Dortchen Wild is drawn to the boy next door, young and handsome fairy tale scholar Wilhelm Grimm. They live in the German kingdom of Hessen-Cassel in the early nineteenth century in a time of war. Napoleon Bonaparte wants to conquer all of Europe, and Hessen-Cassel is one of the first kingdoms to fall. Living under French rule, the Grimm brothers decide to save the old tales that had once been told by the firesides of houses grand and small all over the land.
Dortchen knows many beautiful old stories and as she tells them to Wilhelm, their love blossoms. Yet the Grimm family is desperately poor, and Dortchen’s father has other plans for his daughter. Marriage is an impossible dream.
Dortchen can only hope that happy endings are not just the stuff of fairy tales.

As a lover of history The Wild Girl had me turning the pages. I enjoyed the historical facts of Napoleon’s advance, then retreat, through Europe. I have an interest in plants and flowers and found the glimpse into how flowers and herbs were used at the time, as both medicines and to help people achieve their desires, added to the richness of the story.

The abuse that Dortchen suffers at the hands of her father, one of the people in her life who should protect her, was handled well, although one particularly harrowing scene was not to my liking. I can, however, see the need for this scene as it explains future happenings in the plot.

Excerpt from the first page:
‘Snow lay thick on the ground. The lake’s edges were slurred with ice. The only colour was the red rosehips in the briar hedge, and the golden windows of the palace. Violin music lilted into the air, and shadows twirled past the glass panes.’

In The Wild Girl Kate Forysth enchants with her descriptive powers, engages the reader with the story, and most of all Gretchen and Wilhem are vividly brought to life.



Filed under Elise McCune, What Elise Wrote

The birdman’s wife by Melissa Ashley

The Birdman’s Wife by Australian author Melissa Ashley is a well written and researched book about artist Elizabeth Gould who was the wife of John Gould the famous Victorian ornithologist.

I came across Melissa Ashley’s book when it was one of the books of the month for BCbookclub, an online bookclub, that I belong to. I undid the string and brown wrapping paper that the book was wrapped in and without doubt the book had one of the most beautiful cover’s I’d ever seen. The endpages were just as lovely.


From the inside cover:

Artist Elizabeth Gould spent her life capturing the sublime beauty of birds the world had never seen before. But her legacy was eclipsed by the fame of her husband, John Gould. The Birdman’s Wife at last gives voice to a passionate and adventurous spirit who was so much more than the woman behind the man.

Elizabeth was a woman ahead of her time, juggling the demands of her artistic life with her roles as wife, lover, helpmate, and mother to an evergrowing brood of children. In a golden age of discovery, her artistry breathed wondrous life into hundreds of exotic new species, including Charles Darwin’s famous Galapagos finches.

In The Birdman’s Wife, the naïve young girl who falls in love with a demanding and ambitious genius comes into her own as a woman, an artist and a bold adventurer who defies convention by embarking on a trailblazing expedition to collect and illustrate Australia’s ‘curious’ birdlife.

In this indelible portrait, an extraordinary woman overshadowed by history steps back into the light where she belongs.

Melissa Ashley: photo Vikki Lambert


About the Author

Melissa Ashley is a writer, poet, birder and academic who tutors in poetry and creative writing at the University of Queensland. She has published a collection of poems, The Hospital for Dolls, short stories, essays and articles. What started out as research for a PhD dissertation on Elizabeth Gould became a labour of love and her first novel, The Birdman’s Wife. Inspired by her heroine, she studied taxidermy as a volunteer at the Queensland Museum. Melissa lives in Brisbane.

The story lived up to all my expectations and I would highly recommend this book.

This is the second book I have read for the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge, 2017.

The AWW challenge was set up to help overcome gender bias in the reviewing of books by Australian women. The challenge encourages avid readers and book bloggers, male and female, living in or outside Australia, to read and review books by Australian women throughout the year. You don’t have to be a writer to sign up. You can choose to read and review, or read only.


Have good week, reading, writing (if you are an author) and dreaming.



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Georgiana Molloy, the mind that shines by Bernice Barry

This is the first book read and my first review for the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge, 2017.


Georgiana Molloy, the mind that shines, is a biography of one of Australia’s first female botanical collectors who to quote the biography: ‘Her life began where England and Scotland meet, near the wide mouth of the Solway Firth . . .’ I lived in the southwest of Western Australia for several years so I know the area where the biography is set and Bernice Barry brings it to life. Georgiana was self-taught and her specimens of indigenous flora from Augusta and Busselton are now held in some of the world’s leading herbarium collections.

It is a well-researched book and obviously a labour of love for the author who is a fine writer.

The book with its lovely cover, exquisite photos of wildflowers throughout, and other images that enhance the narrative is one to read and keep on your bookshelf forever. And the endnotes are a great source of further reading.


Bernice Barry lives on WA’s southwest coast near the place where Georgiana Molloy arrived in 1830. Bernice has been researching the lives of Georgiana and John Molloy for more than a decade.

I loved this biography and I hope it ends up on every non-fiction and biography shortlist. And wins.

Good reading,

Cheers, Elise

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Persian Gardens: Meanings, Symbolism and Design.

It’s very quiet in my garden other than the birds singing an early morning song.

I am writing about an abandoned garden so I thought I’d share some of my research with you.

 Persian Gardens. 


Textures and shapes are important in the overall structual design in Persian Gardens so as to harness the light. Iran’s dry heat makes shade important where  trees and trellises feature as shade and pavilions and walls block the sun.

Persian Violets

Greenhouses, glasshouses

The Persian garden integrates indoors with outdoors through the connection of a  surrounding garden with an inner courtyard. And often architectural elements such as vaulted arches are added between the outer and interior areas to open up the divide between them.

Persian Garden Layout on Carpet


Culture and identity in a society can be represented in the architecture and the meanings intertwined with it. In this sense, the architecture and design are the interface for transferring meaning and identity to the nation and future generations. Persian gardens have been evolved through the history of Persian Empire in regard to the culture and beliefs of the society. the patterns of design and architecture in Persian gardens and the meanings intertwined with their patterns and significant elements such as water and trees. Persian gardens are not only about geometries and shapes; but also manifest different design elements, each representing a specific symbol and its significance among the society. 

Garden has been defined as ‘the purest of human pleasures and the greatest refreshment to the spirits of man’ (Bacon 1883). According to Hunt, gardens are “concentrated or perfected forms of place-making’ (Hunt 2000). Garden is also perceived as a symbolic site, resulting from the human’s attempts to materialize Eden on the earth (Alon- Mozes 2004). In the Greek text of the Bible, a garden has been expressed as a “paradise”. In Hebrew “Eden” is translated to an unidentified region or country. In Persian literature, the word garden “pardis” derives from the word “paridaiza” which literally means “walled garden“ and it has been summed up as a luminous and perfumed place, populated by a number of angelical and beautiful creatures (Babaie 1997).

 A mystical feeling for flowers and a love of gardens are integral parts of ancient Persian gardens. The Persian garden is a manifestation of supreme values and concepts and is well-known as a bridge connecting the two worlds of matter and meaning.

The philosophical design concept of Persian gardens is believed to be rooted in the four sacred elements of water, wind, fire and soil. The geometrical design of Persian gardens has been reflected in Persian carpets, potteries and visual arts. The other distinctive feature of Persian gardens, which contributes to the introspective characteristics of ancient Persian people, is the wide application of thick brick walls, which surround the entire rectangular plan of the garden. Other traits of Persian gardens include: the application of perpendicular angles and straight lines, ponds and pools to supply the water and highlight the scenic landscape view, simultaneous use of evergreen and deciduous trees, planting of various types of plants and consideration of focal a pavilion known as Kooshk.

I’m so glad I discovered, serendipity definitely,  this very enlightening, well-written, and researched article. If you have an interest in the gardens it’s well worth reading.


I like to weave a little magic through my stories. Writing a novel is rather like taking a magic carpet ride for who knows where you’ll end up? Most times lately it’s in a garden.


Reference: Leila Mahmoudi Farahani, Bahareh Motamed and Elmira Jamei.

Deakin University, School of Architecture and Built Environment, 1 Gheringhap St, Geelong; 3220, Australia

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution on License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

ISSN 1865-1542 – http://www.landscapeonline.dehttp://dx.doi.org/10.3097/LO.201646


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Letters from the Past

The past impacts on the present in many ways. In my WIP I write about letters from the past before the time of emails. I sometimes write a letter to my daughter and she loves receiving a message that is written on lovely paper, and I use my best pen and stamp the envelope with the prettiest stamp I can find at the time.

When I read about these undelivered letters I had already decided to write about letters from the past. Another serendipitous happening!

Undelivered letters discovered in a 17th century trunk paint a vivid life of early modern Europe and the culture of the time.


© Signed, Sealed & Undelivered Team, 2015–2016. Courtesy of the Museum voor Communicatie, The Hague.

In 2012, Rebekah Ahrendt, assistant professor of music at Yale was tracking a theatre troupe that worked in The Hague at the turn of the 18th century and came across a short notice in a 1938 French journal that described a collection of undelivered letters at the postal museum and included transcriptions of seven of them.

The archive was established by the postmasters in an attempt to profit from their business. At that time, recipients were responsible for paying for any letters they received, and if the letters were undelivered, the postmasters would keep them in the hope that someday the recipient would search for the letter and pay them what was owed. The letters were stored in a trunk that had been waterproofed with sealskin.

The back of this letter — which is still locked — has been used as a notepad for accounting, probably by someone in the postmaster’s office.

02. Accounting-298x173

 © Signed, Sealed & Undelivered Team, 2015–2016. Courtesy of the Museum voor Communicatie, The Hague. 

An example of a refused love letter.

01. Refused love letter-315x183

© Signed, Sealed & Undelivered Team, 2015–2016. Courtesy of the Museum voor Communicatie, The Hague.

Some letter‐writers added enclosures, such as this colored paper dove, which bears the French inscription don de piété (‘gift of piety’), symbolizing the Holy Spirit.

03. Letter enclosure-348x202

© Signed, Sealed & Undelivered Team, 2015–2016. Courtesy of the Museum voor Communicatie, The Hague.

These letters are inspirational and I’m sure one or more will be included in my story.

Have a wonderful week, whether you write, read or dream (or do all three).

Cheers Elise


Filed under Elise McCune, What Elise Wrote

Land Beneath the Wind by Agnes Newton Keith

I am reading  Land Beneath the Wind.  It was given to me as a gift by an intrepid traveller who recently returned from Sabah, Borneo and visited Agnes Keith House.


What I like about the story of Agnes Keith is the mystery that involves her daughter, Jean. It seems that Jean may have been the daughter of her husband by a previous marriage or by a liaison.

In a recent study of Sabah society in colonial days we find this gloss on “liaisons with local women:”

During the period of Chartered Company rule in Sabah it was not uncommon for European administrators to form liaisons with local women. Such a practice occurred throughout the British Empire, though with local variants. Need of companionship saw this practice being condoned by most colonial administrations including the Chartered Company, albeit unofficially. Strictly speaking, it was considered improper, thus little written information is available for a proper treatment of the subject. The Chartered Company’s fortnightly newspaper, the British North Borneo Herald, for instance, is almost silent on this matter. …

Even the husband of the celebrated author Agnes Keith is known to have had a local girl before he married Agnes. …

Agnes Newton Keith (July 4, 1901 – March 30, 1982) was an American author best known for her three autobiographical accounts of life in North Borneo (now Sabah) before, during, and after the Second World War. The second of these, Three Came Home, tells of her time in Japanese POW and civilian internee camps in North Borneo and Sarawak, and was made into a film of the same name in 1950. She published seven books in all.

Agnes Keith

She was born in Oak Park, Illinois. Her family moved to Hollywood, California when she was very young. The family moved again when Agnes was ten, this time to the nearby beach community of Venice, California.

She attended the University of California, Berkeley. Upon graduation, she worked with the San Francisco Examiner.Eight months after starting her journalism career, she was attacked by an assailant who was convinced that the newspaper was persecuting him by printing Krazy Kat cartoons. She received serious head injuries which affected her memory. She also became seriously depressed, and after two years of illness her father sent her and her brother Al to Europe to recuperate.

Harry Keith

In 1934, she married Henry G Keith, known as “Harry Keith”, an Englishman. He had been a friend of her brother Al when both boys had been at the same school in San Diego, and Agnes had first met him when she was eight years old. He had gone on to work for the government of North Borneo, and she had not seen him in a decade when he visited California while on leave in 1934. However, as soon as they re-met they decided to get married, and were wed three days later. Three months after their marriage they sailed for Borneo.

Harry persuaded Agnes to write about her experiences and enter it in the 1939 Atlantic Monthly Non-Fiction Prize contest. The judges voted unanimously for her entry to win, and it was partly serialized in the magazine before being published in November of that year as Land Below the Wind. The book received favorable reviews: The Scotsman described it as ‘A delightful book … It has abundant humour and a pervading charm … An original and engaging description of a country and people of extraordinary interest.’

On arriving in Sandakan in 1934, they moved into Harry’s bachelor bungalow, but the couple soon relocated to a government building on a hilltop, where they lived until internment in 1942. After the war they returned to Sandakan to find the house destroyed. They built a new house in 1946–47 on the original footprint and in a similar style to the original. They named this house Newlands and lived there until they left Sabah in 1952. After nearly 50 years of gradual deterioration, first under tenants and then as an empty shell, the house was restored by Sabah Museum in collaboration with the Federal Department of Museums and Antiquities in 2001. The house is a rare survival of post-war colonial wooden architecture.

Agnes Keith House


It was opened to the public in 2004 and is a popular tourist attraction. It contains displays on Agnes and Harry Keith as well as information about colonial life in Sandakan in the first half of the twentieth century, and is commonly referred to as the Agnes Keith House.

Agnes and Harry 


Agnes Newton Keith died at age 80 in Oak Bay, British Columbia in 1982; her husband died the same year.

It’s a book that I’ll keep on my bookshelf to reread.

Have a good writing and reading week.

Keep warm and drink hot chocolate!



Filed under Elise McCune, What Elise Wrote

What Elise Wrote-Katherine Mansfield


Kathleen Mansfield Murry (14 October 1888 – 9 January 1923) was a prominent New Zealand modernist short story writer who was born and brought up in colonial New Zealand and wrote under the pen name of Katherine Mansfield. At 19, Mansfield left New Zealand and settled in the United Kingdom, where she became a friend of modernist writers such as D.H. Lawrence and Virginia Woolf. In 1917 she was diagnosed with extrapulmonary tuberculosis, which led to her death at the age of 34.


Katherine seated, book in hand, in a deck chair in France.

The mind I love must have wild places, a tangled orchard where dark damsons drop in the heavy grass, an overgrown little wood, the chance of a snake or two, a pool that nobody’s fathomed the depth of, and paths threaded with flowers planted by the mind.

I have read Katherine Mansfield since I was ten years old and discovered, on the verandah of my grandmother’s house, a trunk filled with discarded books one of which was The Garden-Party and Other Stories by Katherine Mansfield.

My favourite short story in the collection is At the Bay. I loved it then and I reread it several times a year. At the Bay was written in 1922 and first published in the London Mercury in January 1922, and later reprinted in The Garden Party and Other Stories. The text is written in modernist mode, with no set structure, and many shifts in the narrative.

Katherine Mansfield and Virginia Woolf considered themselves friends. Virginia claimed that Katherine’s writing was the only prose that made her jealous. She was hurt by Katherine’s damning review of her second novel. Yet they exchanged gifts of Belgian cigarettes, loaves of bread, coffee beans and columbine plants. They sent each other letters and discussed their work over tea.

It was their shared literary endeavours that drew them together. And after spending a weekend together, Katherine remarked that it was ‘very curious and thrilling that we should both, quite apart from each other, be after so very nearly the same thing’.

Although their friendship was relatively brief – from 1917 until Katherine’s death in 1923 – its effect on their work was profound. During this time, she produced most of her celebrated stories (one of which Virginia published), and Virginia forged her trademark stream of conciousness style.

The two women recognised each other’s literary prowess: Virginia wrote that Katherine’s was the only prose to have made her jealous.

Make it a rule of life never to regret and never to look back. Regret is an appalling waste of energy; you can’t build on it; it’s only good for wallowing in.


Katherine Mansfield wearing an Arabian shawl.Photo taken  by Ida Baker, East Sussex, England, 1910.

Excerpt:  At the Bay

Linda Burnell lounged in a steamer chair under the manuka tree in the front yard of the bungalow. She sat and contemplated the life of the flowers that fell from the tree. She thought of how beautifully intricate they were and how easy it was to disregard them as simply something that should be kept off the lawn. “Who takes the trouble – or the joy- to make all these things that are wasted….”. She thought it uncanny.

On the lawn beside her, situated between two pillows, was the baby. He was asleep and Linda had the bungalow all to herself. She wished she had time to look and truly appreciate each flower but she knew Life would come along and interrupt her day. It always did and there was no escape.

Years before she was married she remembered sitting on the veranda with her father. They had been very close. He always said they would run away one day, just the two of them but then Stanley Burnell walked by, slowly and solemnly, his ginger hair aglow. Her father teased her and called Stanley her beau. At the time Linda couldn’t have imagined being married especially to someone like Stanley Burnell but married they were. She loved him, most of the time.

She didn’t love the Stanley everyone else saw. Her Stanley was timid, he said is prayers in earnest and believed in others with his whole heart and was never disloyal but she so rarely saw her Stanley anymore. She only had glimpses of him every so often. Usually he was in the thick of whatever daily drama was taking place and she spent all of her time calming him down, listening to his side of the story, and rescuing him from himself. “And what was left of her was spent in the dread of having children”.

It was her greatest grudge against life. She knew it was a woman’s lot to birth children, to carry them for months and then bring them whole into the world but afterward she found that she did not love her children in the way that she should. The burden of too many births had weakened her and she had nothing left to give the girls. Thankfully her mother had taken the boy and as far as Linda was concerned, she could have him.

Linda was so indifferent about the new baby–she had hardly ever held him in her arms. Glancing down she was surprised to see the boy was awake. His dark-blue eyes were fixed on her and he suddenly smiled, his dimples showing. His happy smile called out to his mother for love, and she found herself returning the smile. She sat down on the grass beside him.

She said that she didn’t like babies and if he knew what she was thinking about him he would stop smiling but the boy only turned his head and squinted his eyes. Linda was astonished by the baby’s confidence, his demand of her love that she felt something inside of her shift, making room, and a tear slide down her face. “Hello my funny” she said but the boy had already forgotten about his mother. His eyes were fixated on the tree’s falling flowers, and he shot his hand out to grab one.

Katherine Mansfield is one of my favourite writers.


Have a great week, reading and writing and dreaming,


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What Elise Wrote: H V Morton


I am busy outlining my new novel. I’m reading lots of books: serindipitous findings have increased my bookshelves to overflowing.

One book I found this way is: H V Morton’s London. Its end pages and the edges of the pages are foxed with age. My volume is the sixteenth edition being: The Heart of London, The Spell of London and The Nights of London in one volume with fifteen illustrations. From the introduction:

An acquisitive young reporter, with an immense appetite for London, was once allowed to wander out at will into the highways and the byways, as long as he returned in the evening with something to write about. So far as my recollection goes, he never came back empty-handed, and it is on record that he kept up the story of his explorations day by day for many a month. He was upheld in his quest by the conviction that, in such a wonderful and mysterious place as London, it was impossible for him to stand anywhere for half an hour and see nothing of interest. And, in this, I think he was right.

I now regard these snapshots of London and London life, gathered here for the first time into one book, with some respect, not for anything that is said in them, but because of the amount of vitality and enthusiasm that went to their making. Nothing was too much trouble, and no appointment to be neglected, no matter how seemingly ridiculous, if it appeared to promise yet another glimpse into the life of the capital.

H V Morton, August, 1940.

Henry Canova Vollam Morton FRSL (known as H. V. Morton), (26 July 1892 – 18 June 1979) was a journalist and pioneering travel writer from Lancashire, England. He was best known for his prolific and popular books on London, Great Britain and the Holy Land. He first achieved fame in 1923 when, while working for the Daily Express, he scooped the official Times correspondent during the coverage of the opening of the Tomb of Tutankhamun by Howard Carter in Egypt.

54032     H V Morton

The same author wrote many books on an eclectic mix of subjects a few of which are: Women of the Bible, In the Steps of the Master, Blue Days at Sea, Ghosts of London. If you are writing about the wonderful capital of England search out H V Morton’s books on London and you will find in there much there to bring your story to life.

However all is not as it seems with H V Morton and a biography from 2004 ends with a passage which the author judges to have been not reportage, but pure fiction:

“I went out into the churchyard where the green stones nodded together, and I took up a handful of earth and felt it crumble and run through my fingers, thinking that as long as one English field lies against another there is something left in the world for a man to love.
‘Well’, smiled the vicar as he walked towards me between the yew trees, ‘that, I am afraid, is all we have’.
‘You have England’, I said.”

When I found this review by chance while researching this article I wondered if I should mention it but came to the conclusion that a biography is only one writer’s perception of another person.

H V Morton was a man with flaws and shortcomings as well as being an accomplished journalist which made his writings so accessible to readers of his work. He was a man of his time and it is important we recognise this when reading his books or the many internet articles about him. I’m glad we have the legacy of his books.

Reference: Max Hastings 09 May 2004 The Telegraph reviews In Search of H. V. Morton by Michael Bartholomew.

Reference: Wikipedia for the bio of H V Morton

Have a good writing week





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What Elise Wrote-Castle of Dreams

I am so pleased that readers are enjoying Castle of Dreams.

The Blake sisters’ Vivien and Rose, Captain Robert Shine, an American soldier stationed in Brisbane during the Pacific War, Dave Bailey, mechanic and all round good guy, Ruby who reads the tarot, William who lost a leg at Fromelles and wears an artificial one and Harry who owns the castle.  And in the modern day narrative, Stella  a photographer and the daughter of Linda and granddaughter of Rose, and Jack, Stella’s boyfriend  who is a journalist; if they stepped through the front door this evening I’d know them.

I love montage photos so I thought I’d share some of my favourites with you.


images-1 images

Have a lovely evening,


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