One of the most exciting aspects of the epublishing revolution is the proliferation of new writing that wouldn't be handled by the traditional publishers. I'm thinking particularly here of personal memoirs and family stories.
I got into epublishing to help my husband bring his novel Magnificent Britain in front of an audience. It was several months after the launch of Magnificent Britain that I began to think about publishing a diary that my father had written during World War II. I Think I Prefer the Tinned Variety: The Diary of a Petty Officer in the Fleet Air Arm during World War II was released as a Kindle ebook in October 2012 and I'm really pleased that I took the decision to publish it. My dad, who died many years ago, would have been amazed.
I've downloaded and enjoyed reading several indie-published World War Two memoirs. In Fleet Air Arm Memories 1939 - 1946: Tales of the Brummagem Bastard the author R.S. Pyne has taken her grandfather's diary, notes, correspondence, citations and other documents to create a very interesting annotated memoir of the life of a young, war-time recruit in the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm.
Grandfather is Norman H. Mills whose voice comes through strongly throughout this book. His memories of his experiences in just about every campaign of World War Two are quite amazing. The details are personal and give fascinating insights into the everyday life of the service personnel of the era. The annotations cover a variety of topics and purposes and contain an interesting mix of explanations and technical details with some useful references to other sources for those who want to find out more.
The aspects of the story which relate to the Arctic Convoys are particularly fascinating and have contemporary resonances as the long saga of the Arctic Convoy Medal has recently come to its conclusion.
Some of the language is rich and fruity and reflects the era and the circumstances and author R.S. Pyne has included a health warning in the blurb for the book. Fleet Air Arm Memories 1939 - 1946: Tales of the Brummagem Bastard is available to download in the Amazon Kindle Store.
If you don't have a Kindle you can get a free app which will enable you read ebooks on your P.C., laptop, tablet or phone.
I have a friend who bought a Kindle and a few months later got an Apple iPad. She downloaded the Kindle app for iPads from the Amazon Kindle Store and now reads all her Kindle ebooks on her iPad.
If you have an Amazon account you can get a free app from the Kindle Store which will enable you to read Kindle ebooks on:
Smartphones - iPhone & iPod touch; Android
Computers - Windows 8; Windows 7; XP & Vista; Mac
Tablets - iPad; Android Tablet; Windows 8
Check out this page on the Amazon Kindle Store and follow the link for your preferred device.
I haven't used anything other than the Kindle app but others are available too.
If you like Kobo there is a free app available to download on this page of the Kobo website
which functions on a wide range of devices too.
If you have a Barnes & Noble Account there are details of free ebook reading apps on this page.
So, even if you don't want to buy your own ereader you can still enjoy some of the thousands of ebooks that have been published for Kindle, Kobo, Nook, Apple iBooks etc.
Fleet Air Arm Memories 1939 - 1946: Tales of the Brummagem Bastard can be found in all Amazon Kindle Stores.
Links to UK Kindle Store and Kindle Store at Amazon USA.
Seventy years ago, World War II uprooted my father, Norman Buckle, from a coal mining village in South Yorkshire and transported him thousands of miles to Sierra Leone in West Africa and later to a tropical island in the Pacific.
"I Think I Prefer the Tinned Variety" presents the diary extracts Norman wrote when stationed at naval shore-bases in Freetown, Sierra Leone, West Africa; Sidney, Australia; and Ponam, the Admiralty Islands.
My own fascination with family history has lead me to research the background to the diary which is included as annotations to the text.
The book is not an account of daring-do: it describes some of Norman's experiences far away from home and documents everyday life on a naval shore-base during WW2.
Approximately 22,000 words long, the book is roughly half and half diary and annotations.
Health warning: there may be a few passages in the diary extracts that upset modern sensibilities.
Available for Kindle at
Read more at Spurwing ebooks.com
On 24th June 1834, George Gooding was married to Emma Ringe at the parish church in Debenham, Suffolk.
George and Emma were my great, great, great grandparents.
George Gooding (1811 - 1900)
George was born in Debenham in 1811. His parents were William Gooding (born 1774) and Elizabeth (born 1779).
George had two sisters: Sarah (born 1809) and Lucy (born 1817).
George's father,William Gooding, was a bricklayer and he lived with his family at 64, Front Street, Debenham.
Emma Ringe (1812 - 1895)
Emma was also born in Debenham a year after George. Her parents were John and Rose Ringe (1773 - 1853). Rose's obituary was published in the Ipswich Journal in May 1853. This shows that Emma's father, John, was a farmer.
Marriage 24th June 1834
George Gooding and Emma Ringe were married at the parish church of St. Mary Magdalene in Debenham.
George was employed in the building trade and Emma worked as a dressmaker.
George worked with other members of his extended family as a bricklayer as this extract from an 1860 Trades directory illustrates.
I discovered in the British Newspaper Archive a report from 1884 of a meeting of some of the Debenham trades people which indicates that some years later the Goodings continued to do well.
George, Ellen and Emily Gooding
George and Emma had three children: George, Ellen and Emily.
You can read more about George Jnr. in this blogpost.
In 1871, Emily was still living at home (now Church Row, Debenham) and she was working as a milliner. Her father, George, was still working as a bricklayer.
That same year Ellen married William Carruthers, a marble merchant, at the Debenham parish church.
William Carruthers came from Carlisle. Maybe it's not a coincidence that Ellen's brother George had re-located to the North-West and his daughter, Minnie, was living with her grandparents in Debenham.
George and Emma continued to live at Church Row for the next twenty years. In 1891 their granddaughter Isabel Carruthers was living with them and she was employed as a pupil teacher. George himself continued to work as a bricklayer.
I found several references to George Gooding of Debenham in the British Newspaper Archives and as the census records show only one person of that name living there I am confident these references are to my ancestor.
Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee 1887
Debenham Conservative Association
George was present at a number of meetings of the Debenham Conservative Association including this one in 1886 where the speaker was explaining the British Constitution.
Gladstone's Liberal government had pushed through the third Parliamentary Reform Act in 1884 extending the vote to males in rural areas who met the same £10 owning or leasing criteria that had been introduced to urban areas in 1867. This had been opposed by the Conservatives who didn't think extending the franchise to less wealthy people would work in their favour. A deal was done to alter some parliamentary boundaries to compensate and the law was changed. Consequently George Gooding and other tradesmen who didn't necessarily own property but had a leasehold property of more than £10 could vote and clearly the Debenham Conservative Association went on a charm offensive to ensure they got all the new votes.
These newspaper reports show how concerts and dinners were used to make politics more appealing!
Emma died in 1895 and her death was recorded in The Ipswich Journal May 1895.
George Gooding died in 1900 in the place where he'd lived all his life.
My dad, Norman Buckle, left school in 1940 and worked in an office for a couple of years before he joined the Fleet Air Arm of the Royal Navy for his WW2 service.
He attended Normanton Grammar School and in the school magazine for the Summer Term that year there is an essay he wrote entitled I Do Like to be Beside the Seaside.
The essay starts with a quotation from W.W. Jacobs: We shall smell the Chemical Works rather than that "honest, seafaring smell compounded of tar, rope and fish, known to the educated as ozone".
After I'd read Norman's essay I Googled the quote and found it was from At Sunwich Port by W.W. Jacobs. Amazingly, although the book was published in 1902 it was available to download from Project Gutenberg and also the Amazon Kindle Store as a freebie. I read a few pages; identified the quote; and found that the book had some fantastic illustrations. Then I forgot about it until a couple of days ago.
I was sorting out the Waiting To Be Read folder on my Kindle and was going to delete At Sunwich Port but decided to take another look at it. And how glad I am that I did: it's a really good read. It's a tale of two families who are at loggerheads because the fathers have fallen out. The children don't get on but as they mature things start to change. The story, set in a turn-of-the-century coastal port town, has lots of unexpected twists and turns which work really well. The book is reminiscent of Charles Dickens but not so wordy and I really enjoyed reading it.
William Wymark Jacobs (1863 - 1943) was a prolific writer of short stories and half a dozen novels in addition to At Sunwich Port. His claim to fame is that he was the author of a renowned horror story, The Monkey's Paw, which was filmed in 1948.
Jacobs' short stories were often published in magazines and illustrated by Will Owen.
The illustrations in At Sunwich Port are also by Will Owen (1869 - 1957) and they really enhance the book. Owen became a household name because of his invention of the Bisto Kids and other iconic images for Bovril, Lux soapflakes and Lifebuoy soap.
The Kindle version of At Sunwich Port is no longer available but if you want to get hold of a copy follow this link to Project Guttenberg.
I've mentioned the Geograph website before and how useful it is for images that you can use on your blogs and websites under the Creative Commons Licence associated with the site. I've used it a lot on my Parish Churches Blog but I discovered a new feature on the site the other day.
The requirement of the site is that you accredit the photographer and the CCL on every image you use and this can be a bit fiddly and time consuming. Small price to pay for the wealth of images that are made freely available.
However, the new feature makes it really easy to add the accreditation by following the steps below.
On the Geograph website:
Select a photo you're interested in and
click "Find out how to reuse this image".
Click "self service tool, available here"
Click "Get Stamped Image"
Right click the image and click "Save image as"
Navigate to the folder on your P.C where you want to save the image and click Save.
The image will be downloaded into the selected folder with the required accreditation imprinted on the image.
Then you can use the image on your blogpost / website confident that you've fulfilled the requirements of the Geograph site.
I selected this image because Michael - husband's - family had a lot of connections with St. Botolph's, Aldgate in London and I thought this sculpture in front of the church looked stunning.
For more about St. Botolph's and its connection to our family history you might enjoy this blogpost about James William Murray (1845 - 1918).
Have you seen this advance notice of the 1939 Register? Apparently the British government made a record of the civilian population shortly after the outbreak of World War Two. The information was used to issue identity cards and organise rationing. It's the only record of the population between 1921 and 1951. The 1931 census records were destroyed and no census was taken in 1941. You can sign up to receive notifications of when the 1939 Register will be fully digitised and available. It's a joint project between The National Archives and Find My Past. It sounds really exciting but unfortunately it's about two years away. Anyway, I've signed up for more information and can't wait!
If you're an ebook reader, you might be interested to check out our books at Spurwing ebooks. Did you know that you can get a free app for Kindle for all computers, tablets, phones etc. Check out this page for more information.
I read an inspirational blogpost a couple of weeks ago asking the question "Do Our Family Treasures Have a Secret Life?" You can read it here for yourself but it left me thinking hard about the treasures I've accumulated. Over the years I've become the custodian of old photographs; postcards; letters; diaries; receipts; birth, marriage and death certificates; birthday cards; wedding cards; engagement cards; funeral cards; school magazines; church magazines; newspapers and newspaper cuttings; medals; coins; jewellery; samplers; a christening gown; a wedding dress; a decorated rolling pin; nanna's bag; a sewing box; china; glassware; two glass fronted cabinets; and three tiny silver thimbles. I'm going to take the advice of Moore Genealogy and start to photograph and write the stories of some of the items in my collection.
I've been thinking a lot about my husband Michael's mother, Rose Murray, as it was her birthday on May 31st. She was born in 1908 and died aged 98 years in 2006. Her birth was registered a few days late so her official birth date is not her actual birthday.
Rose was the owner of the "three tiny silver thimbles" referred to above.
When she was about fourteen she was apprenticed in a tailoring workshop and eventually became a specialist "felling hand" hand stitching, for example, the edges of gentlemens' suit lapels. Her thimbles were an essential part of the equipment of her trade and she always used them even if she was only sewing on a button. In older age her fingers became permanently bent: caused by what we would now call repetitive strain injury, I suspect.
Rose was a lively, gregarious character with a taste for costume jewellery and hennaed hair.
She liked to dress up and was in her element with smart frocks and millinery.
Even at the end of her life, her weekly appointment with the hairdresser was a must!
Yesterday I wrote about my husband Michael's mother, Rose Murray, on the anniversary of her birth in 1908.
As she got older we encouraged her to write down her life's story and aged about ninety two she made a start:
I was born on May 31st 1908 in a court off Petticoat Lane. My mother was Jewish and my father C of E. Ten weeks before I was born my mother lost her first child, a girl named Esther. I was always told she was beautiful so when I was born it must have been a great shock to my mother when she looked at me and realised I had a very bad purple birthmark on the right side of my face which went from my mouth up to my forehead. Maybe that was why she always resented me. I can only remember my mother ever kissing me once and that was when she came home from work, after having a few drinks with her friends. That night she gave me a penny which was a lot in those days and I couldn’t wait to run and buy my first treasure, a wooden doll which I adored. I was five by this time and we had moved down into Commercial Road. My father was a wonderful man and I think that in my whole life he was the only person that really loved me and I adored him. The first time I realised that there was something wrong with me was when I was out with my mother and a child shouted “Oh look at her face”, my mother turned me round and said “Now look at her ars”. It was very embarrassing for me because I did not know that I was any different from other children not being big enough to see in a mirror.
My first day at school was awful. I was very shy and I remember when I came home for lunch I screamed because I did not want to go back. But I got used to school and I remember my first Xmas there. Father Xmas came with a load of toys and he was holding each one out and asking who would like that toy. Then he came to a beautiful doll which I thought was the most gorgeous thing I had ever seen. He held it up and asked who would like it. I was too shy to say I would but because I was standing close to him he looked at me and said “I think this little girl would”. I couldn’t believe it was really mine. That in my mind was the best Xmas I ever had. I loved that doll and one day I was playing in the street with my doll when a big ginger boy rushed by me and snatched it out of my arms. Up to this day I have hated that boy. He took my greatest treasure from me.
My Father by this time was driving a lorry which was pretty good in those days so we moved into two rooms in Planet Street which is in the Commercial Road. One night my father came home from work and we had some neighbours in and they were all excited and worried because they were expecting war to be declared. It was 1914. One Saturday my father came home with a soldier. It appears they were recruiting men for the army and he wanted to enlist but he had to come and give my mother the wages first. Anyhow we were crying but he came home in the evening because they wouldn’t accept him because he was deaf in one ear. Being the man he was he wouldn’t give in so he enlisted again but he was turned down. The third time he was accepted because I think they needed lorry drivers.
The 1914 war is as vivid to me as the 1939 was. My father was drafted to Egypt which left me alone with my mother. One night my Auntie Edie came to see us and she said people were looking up to the sky because there was a cigar shaped silver looking thing up there which we found out after was a Zeppelin. It was few nights after when there was a terrific bang there was glass breaking everywhere. My mother shouted the Germans have set London on fire because the sky was all red, it seemed that way. We were all scared stiff until a man came down the street and told us it was an explosion at Silvertown.
When my father was sent abroad my mother was about three months pregnant and she had a most beautiful baby boy born on April 1st 1915. To me he was my lovely doll sent back to me. I worshipped him but unfortunately he was taken away from us when he was only two and a half. In those days you didn’t have the Health Service so he got measles and complications set in and he died at home without any hospital treatment. I was broken hearted at losing my lovely brother and I made myself ill. When I had to have a medical at school they said I would have to stay away from school and attend a clinic for prevention of consumption. I lost three years of schooling without ever going to a hospital or having an Exray.
The war was still going on and we were having Zeppelin raids. One night the guns were going heavily and all of us kids were called out into the street to cheer there in the sky was this big shaped object burning. The guns had caught it and it was coming down in flames. It is a sight I shall never forget. We got through the war somehow and we weren’t too badly off because as my father was a lorry driver taking the ammunition to the front he got a lot more money than an ordinary Tommy. At last, the war ended. It was wonderful, all the boys went around collecting firewood and we had big bonfires right down the centre of the street – the people went wild. Then the men started to come home. I remember as soon as my father came home I dragged him round to Watney Street to buy me a scooter which was wonderful to a child in those days because they had only just come out.
My father came home with a very bad cold and from the day he came out of the Army he was never the same again. After the war things got very bad, people were losing jobs and money was very scarce. My mother used to pawn my father’s best suit on Monday and get it out on Saturday. I had to go for it but although we were all poor we were very proud and I wouldn’t go to get the things out of pawn unless my mother gave me an extra penny for a sheet of brown paper to have the clothes wrapped. Everyone was in the situation, but people were a lot better. You could always borrow a cup of sugar a drop of milk a piece of soap. If one had they would share it. As time got on things got worse than ever. My mother had to go to money lenders who were real blood suckers. I dreaded Saturday because if my mother didn’t have the money to pay her debts I had to answer the door and say she was out. My poor father knew nothing of this my mother kept it away from him as he was a sick man. He kept having to have time out from work because he was so ill and eventually he was given the sack. After four years in the army he finished up on the scrap heap. He had to go on the dole and after so many months he was struck off, which meant he had to go to the R.O. which was the relieving office. They gave you food tickets. Although we were so hard up people still had their pride. You had to give the name of the shops to which you could get a piece of meat and groceries, because my mother didn’t want people to know we were on the R.O. she used to go all the way to Aldgate to change the tickets.
By this time I had left school at 14. I remember I cried on my 14th Birthday as I didn’t get one card. The lady who lived in the two rooms above us gave me a penny. Being a war widow with 5 children she was still better off than us because she had her war pension regularly every week. I forgot to mention that when I was 12 years old my mother gave birth to a beautiful little girl and she was so fair I said I would like her to be called Lily. So now I had a sister which I loved dearly. By the time I was 14 Lily was two and I took her everywhere with me. I was so proud of her.
I left school at 14 and found a job in a sweet factory. Looking back I don’t know how it was allowed to keep open. For a weeks work from 8 till 6 and half day on Saturday I got ten shillings a week. It was a God send to my mother but she kept saying I had to have a trade. Anyhow because I was caught talking to another girl we were both given the sack. My mother came in one day not long after I was given the sack and said they were advertising for an apprentice girl in tailoring in a street off the Commercial Road where we lived. Anyhow I got the job. The hours were 8 in the morning til 8 at night, wages were 6 shillings a week. And on Saturday I used to go in to help another girl to clean the workshop which was a room in the house where the governor lived. After working there for a good while my mother went to see the governor and said she thought it was time I got a raise, so I was given another two shillings. Now I was earning 8 shillings a week (40p in today's money). At that time we could go to the pictures for 6 pence and when I got my wages my mother gave me 1 shilling spending money. I couldn’t get to the pictures fast enough. It was a wonderful new world all the lovely clothes and dancing. I used to stay and see it all over again. I never wanted to come out into the world of reality.
Sadly, this was all that Rose was able to write. She couldn't sustain the interest or the concentration. But what a pity because what little she has written is a fascinating insight into her working class life and times. All I would say to anyone with elderly relatives or friends is don't leave it too late before you help them to capture their memories or they will be lost forever.
I love reading multi-volume family sagas and I think one of the best is Elizabeth Jane Howard's The Cazelet Chronicles. I've just been reading the fifth and final volume All Change which was published last year.
I first met the Cazelets when I watched the last couple of episodes of a TV adaptation in about 2001. At that stage there were four novels and I bought the first one The Light Years (published in 1990) and was hooked.
Of course this was in the days before we could get anything we wanted to read with the click of a button onto the Kindle and so several months elapsed before I tracked down the other three volumes. Eventually I got hold of them all and couldn't put any of them down.
The books follow the lives of a large, privileged, middle class family in the years between 1937 and 1947. Most of the action takes place in London and Surrey but from time to time a character wanders off further afield. The books explore the relationships between family members and with the wide variety of characters they meet as they mature and develop. The writing style is vivid and engaging and once you've got into Book 1, the characters feel like real people that you actually know.
Some while later I read Elizabeth Jane Howard's autobiography and was surprised to find how much of the Cazelets' life style and many of the actual events had been drawn from her own experiences.
I read the Chronicles again with this newly found perspective; enjoyed them but not as much as the first time and passed the set onto a charity shop.
You can imagine that when I read Elizabeth Jane Howard had written a fifth volume, taking the Cazelet story on from 1947 through to 1958, I was keen to read it. Sadly, Elizabeth Jane Howard died on January 2nd 2014. She was ninety years old. And unfortunately All Change is a big disappointment. Too much of the first half of the novel is spent re-hashing the earlier volumes and explaining who is who and why they're in the story. Most of the characters develop as people in whom I found I had little interest and understandably, the writing style has lost its sparkle. However, the original books made a great TV series so I've ordered the DVD Boxed Set in case the summer continues as wet and miserable as it's been so far to-day.