My memoir Woman in a White Coat starts 85 years ago in October 1931, two years before this studio portrait was taken.
Who would have thought this serious little girl would qualify in dentistry and medicine, become an entrepreneur and end up as a consultant pathologist in a major London teaching hospital.
I was born at a time when a girl’s only future was marriage and children – though I managed those too – married to the same loving husband for 60 years with four wonderful children and four equally wonderful grandchildren.
There are 30 days in April and my memoir presently has 29 chapters so if I edit one chapter a day my memoir will be ready to be uploaded as an e-book by the end of the month. That is my April Fool’s Day resolution.
If you email me at abby(Replace this parenthesis with the @ sign)abbyjw.com I will send you the first chapter and if you comment I will send you another. Hope to hear from you.
Everyone has been raving about the huge Vogue100 exhibition – a pictorial history of Vogue magazine since its birth in 1916. Several of my friends have been twice.
Yes, there are loads of fantastic portraits. though I liked best the long tables of black and white photographs. I particularly liked the hand-drawn and painted covers of the early years.
But the National Portrait Gallery curators elected to do something I really hate – group the captions to one side of the exhibits so that at times it was hard to tell which description went with which photo. The detailed descriptions were in a small thin font, difficult to read especially in the rooms where the light had been dimmed. My view is that the title of any artefact is important, especially if given by the author of the piece, and should be easy to find and read, even if the artist has elected to call the work Untitled .
A quotation from the Vogue of 1938 Primer of Art made my hackles rise:
‘A lady of quality should be able to walk into any drawing room, to look at the picture over the mantelpiece and to exclaim: “Oh what a charming Picasso of the early Blue Period”, or “I like your new Follower of Masaccio (circa 1420) immensely.” If she guesses right she is a gentleman and a scholar.” The cheek!!
I loved the Russia and the Arts exhibition – and not only because the titles were underneath each portrait!! Included were portraits of some of my best-loved Russian authors whose books I’d first pored over in my teenage years – Chekhov, Turgenev, Tolstoy and Dostoevsky – as well as musicians like Tchaikovsky and Mussorgsky, painters (mainly unfamiliar to me) and patrons – from the years 1867-1914.
My mother and grandmother were Russian so there was probably a bond there. Memoir extract from The Girl with a Threepenny Birth Certificate
David Headley, who heads DHH Literary Agency and with Daniel Gedeon owns Goldsboro books, together with Clays, who print both self-published books and books from mainstream publishers, last week hosted a most informative evening, Indie Insights, about self-publishing at the Goldsboro Bookshop in Cecil street.
Andrew Lowe from Andrew Lowe Editorial gave a talk about the need for meticulous editing; Mark Ecob from MECOB design spoke about cover design – and later sent me copies of some of his fabulous covers, James Bond from Whitefox emphasized the need for a concerted publicity campaign, while David Headley finished with a talk about the advantages of being published in the more traditional way.
For me the take home messages were that self-published books need to be as professionally produced as those put out by the main publishing houses, that self-publishing requires a lot of effort and a not inconsiderable amount of money if the result is to be first class but that it can be extremely rewarding for the author who has so much more control over the finished product. Self-published books really start to make money with the first reprint since the origination costs have now been covered.
I’d always wanted to attend one of Patricia Sweeney’s Film of the Bookcourses at the CityLit but thought they were held in the evening, when I hate going to classes. It dates from when Joshua and I were both working. I left while he was still in bed and we only really saw each other in the evening.
This term I saw that the course was during the day and enrolled before it was over-subscribed – as Patricia’s classes always are!! The films we are studying are Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Bonjour Tristesse and The Postman Always Rings Twice.
Patricia is always an inspiring tutor and the first sessions on Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde promise an interesting look at the relationship between the two media – a book being a solo performance while the film is multidisciplinary.
Founded in 1903 by brothers William and Gilbert Foyle, Foyles is now in a splendid new building opened in 2014.
My son complains about the death of bookshops largely at the hands of Amazon, but in London Foyles, Waterstons and Daunt’s in Marylebone High Street are bucking the trend.
It’s a catch22 situation. Living as we do in Victoria, there are no bookshops in easy walking distance and having Amazon available means I can buy books with ease, though Foyles has a very competitive email service.
I borrowed several books from Charing Cross library on WordPress but this book by Alannah Moore is definitely the best.
I usually use the sticky tags shown on the right of the image but they had fallen down behind my desk so I had to use the butterflies instead. You can see just how many pages I’ve marked and I’ve already removed some from the first part of the book.
Well done Alannah Moore and her publisher ILEX press. Liked their books on blogging too.
We went to Liverpool for a long weekend to see the Chagall exhibition at Tate Liverpool and visited their wonderful new library – so different from the library I belonged to when I lived in Petticoat Lane.
From my memoir Woman in a White Coat
I joined Whitechapel library as soon as I was five. Once a week I bundled up the books I had read and walked down Wentworth Street to the Commercial Street crossing. ‘Find a big man to take you across the road and make sure you hold his hand tight,’ my mother said. ‘No skipping or messing about as you go.’ I got used to the remarks about how little my hand was, and how the books were nearly as big as me. All I wanted, was to hurry up, get to the library as quickly as possible, and borrow some new books. Whitechapel Children’s Library was huge, with bookshelves stretching from floor to ceiling. You needed one of those rolling steps to reach the top. We were allowed to take out six books. I always chose at least one book of fairy tales and one myths and legends book. The Andrew Lang fairy books were my favourites and I was fascinated by the Aubrey Beardsley illustrations. I’d choose a book or two from the Angela Brazil’s girls’ boarding school stories and over the years moved on to boys’ books. I learned the cricket and rugby rules and thrilled to the Biggles books. I found Richmal Crompton’s ‘Just William’ books funny, but boring after the first couple. I had to be brave if I wanted to look something up in the Children’s Encyclopaedia. I had to climb the steep stairs up to the Reference Library, hurrying past the glass cases filled with stuffed animals. The foxes, with their big teeth and staring eyes, were especially frightening, and I hated seeing the tiny stuffed birds stuck on twigs.