Monday, December 22, 2014

VICTORIA WOOD MAKES OUR SWWJ 120TH CELEBRATION A RATHER SPECIAL OCCASION

2014 has been such a special year for our SWWJ, culminating in one of our most splendid events for professional writers.  We organIsed a magnificent service held at St Bride's Church, Fleet Street, followed by lunch at Stationers' Hall just along the road. We had full attendance with  many interesting writers from around the world. Top spot in speakers, was lovely Victoria Wood CBE, our new President and a medley of other luminaries including Ann Widdecombe, Baroness Shirley Williams of Crosby, Simon Brett (he created a very clever poem - especially for us) and we enjoyed mingling with our guests and patrons.  What a day!

Few more pics here to give a flavour of the event.
  

2015 will be no less exciting with new experiences and chances of members being published via our special Scriptora section. More details on our website. www.swwj.co.uk. Take a look and make contact with us or with  other members including me (archivist) www.sylviakent.blogspot.com

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

BOOK SIGNING WITH DAGENHAM GIRL PIPERS AT RECENT CHRISTMAS GATHERING


Pipers poised to perform at Dagenham Library

I enjoyed meeting up with a group of the most friendly Dagenham Girl Pipers whose fame is worldwide.  Their history goes back to 1930.  The event was the  Christmas Fayre held in Dagenham Library last month.This Library was built a few years back on the site of the old Church Elm pub.  The Fayre was great and so many people attended, including the Mayor Cllr Elizabeth Kangethe.  The Pipers played superbly, as usual, and many copies of my current book BARKING & DAGENHAM FROM OLD PHOTOGRAPHS were signed.  Here we have a picture from the past taken in those early days. I've created a whole chapter in my book devoted to the Dagenham Girl Pipers and their fabulous history.
Signing a few books at Dagenham Library

The original line-up of young pipers in 1930




Sunday, December 14, 2014

GLORIOUS CAROL SERVICE AT EMMANUEL CHURCH BILLERICAY

Truly beautiful Carol service at Emmanuel Church in Billericay this evening. Candlelight, some great readers and music all around.  Really excellent start to Christmas. 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

CERTAINLY A VENTUROUS SPIRIT AT PHOENIX 98FM

http://www.phoenixfm.com/2014/12/02/the-book-club-with-sylvia-kent-writer-reg-haynes/

Click on above link to hear about Reg's book and recollections

Michelle Ward at Radio Phoenix 98fm hosted author Reg Haynes' recent broadcast in which he outlined his latest book Venturous Spirits.  This book outlines his life and includes many fascinating tales from World War Two - Reg hopes to re-issue his book in 2015,  Reg is a male associate of the Society of Women Writers and Journalists and always supports our activities and events both in London and at home in Brentwood, Essex. 
Here is Reg feeling quite at home in Studio One

Monday, December 08, 2014

WONDERFUL CHRISTMAS EVENT AT EASTBURY MANOR HOUSE IN BARKING

Ivana the prettiest elf at Eastbury Manor House
Such a lovely start to Christmas celebrations in Barking, Essex with the dynamic Ivana giving us a glimpse of the ancient fire place in this centuries' old Eastbury Manor House.  I was invited to sign my new book BARKING AND DAGENHAM FROM OLD PHOTOGRAPHS and what a superb Christmas event was organised by the 'Friends of Eastbury Manor House'!

Ellen & her family who visited her colourful Christmas gift stall
It was a great gathering with so people from the local community who came to visit this gorgeous historic building and also sample some of what the stall holders had to offer.   Here we have Ellen, whose creative Christmas gifts were so popular, and of course Father Christmas who was certainly king of the grotto.  A wonderful day in Barking! 
Yours truly and a handsome Father Christmas yesterday at Eastbury Manor House in Barking Essex.  

Thursday, December 04, 2014

WRITERS AT THEIR CHRISTMAS BOOK SIGNING

B and D's Mayor, Cllr Elizabeth Kangethe with best selling author Sandra Prior 
A great start to Christmas celebrations took place on Saturday at Dagenham Library. Festive mood was apparent with scores of children performing to an enthusiastic audience and then in came the superb Dagenham Girl Pipers led by Sheila Hatcher, Brilliant performance. 

The Borough's mayor Cllr  Elizabeth Kangethe was an honoured guest who has a great professional interest in reading and writing. Good news for the trio of writers Sandra Prior, Scott and yours truly and it was good to talk to people in the borough and catch up with current news. We all enjoyed signing our latest books and a wonderful afternoon  
Scott and partner displaying their prize winning calendars

Thursday, November 27, 2014

ALCS ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING - INTERESTING VENUE THIS YEAR - HOME OF THE BBC

Most writers I know are keen members of the ALCS, the Authors' Licensing Collecting Agency, who really support us in so many ways. So, today, we all met up at Broadcasting House in Portland Place for the AGM. Each delegate was interesting and outlined plans for the coming year. Check them out at www.ALCS.com. It was great to find seats in the BBC's stunning Art Deco Radio Theatre which hosts many of the nation's best known radio shows. Sandie Togsvig was on the agenda for that afternoon, so off we went to enjoy a super lunch, courtesy of ALCS and the BBC. 

It's ages since I was last there - the builders were in at the time when the lovely Jocelyn Hay CBE (Voice of the Listener & Viewer)) showed us around in the company of Head of BBC history, Robert Seatter, but we had to pop on hard safety hats and were shown over the place during construction.  

Yes. that was a few years back and the new building has been finished and looks wonderful.  I believe people can now visit the BBC for a small fee and learn where all the action takes place in various studios and perhaps have an opportunity of meeting some of the people who produce the programmes.  

Sadly, our lovely friend Jocelyn died  earlier this year, and we certainly remember the 

hard work she put into our great Society of Writers & Journalists.  It was interesting that day to meet some of the producers who were working on Woman's Hour.


.

SK, Jocelyn Hay CBE, Robert Seatter (BBC)

Friday, November 21, 2014

ALEX RUSHTON'S BOOK SUNRISE AT AN LAC

Our new Secretary at the Society of Women Writers & Journalists, Alex Rushton from Weybridge, looks back on an amazingly busy year. 

Her first novel, SUNRISE AT AN LAC published by Scriptora, under the auspices of the SWWJ, received non stop interest at Weybridge Books recently.  Trevor Lewis, who attended the signing as an associate member of SWWJ, said: "There was a steady stream of people throughout the afternoon and a friendly atmosphere, which made this event a huge success." 

Wonderful!  Just the language we writers love to hear. 

Alex's fascinating novel set in a post-apocalyptic future in the year 2033, is a thought-provoking story, priced at £6.99. We hope that it flies off the bookshop shelves, and can also be ordered from Weybridge Books, Church Street, Weybridge on 01932 842498; also at www.amazon.co.uk.  Many congratulations, Alex. Looking forward to your next novel. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

BACK TO BBC ESSEX AND MEETING OLD (AND NEW) FRIENDS

Gaelan Connolly Producer at BBC Essex
Trust me to visit BBC Essex today while their new studio is being built. But no problem, as it was 'business as usual' and a super warm welcome from BBC Producer Gaelan Connolly and the lovely presenter Steve Scruton. It was Steve  who interviewed me for my very first book way back in 2001 (TEA @ THREE) and several times thereafter, but today we were talking about my tenth book BARKING & DAGENHAM FROM OLD PHOTOGRAPHS. My publisher this time is Amberley in Stroud.

A great surprise was that Steve also originated from Dagenham and was familiar with many of the people and places that I have chosen for inclusion in this new book (which took me two years to complete). Eventually, with some kind support from the Barking & Dagenham Post and Brentwood Gazette, readers supplied many of the images.

Today, even before I reached home, I had received many messages on my tablet and emails from people who had also grown up in the area. Same story at tonight's Billericay Society meeting. I will reply to each and every one when I get through my current deadline and will run off some of the photos requested and email them.  Hope to meet Tony Fisher regular BBC Essex presenter and invite him and Steve Scruton to our Brentwood Writers' Circle one day. 

Saturday, November 15, 2014

SIGNING OUR NEW BOOKS AT BRENTWOOD IN ESSEX THIS SATURDAY MORNING

We made it to Brentwood Library this morning and what a lovely bunch of readers came in to buy our books.  You see Frances Clamp and me showing our latest titles and it was super to go home almost empty handed.  We also brought along some of our older books which are still regarded as "evergreens" and even these were purchased by mainly local Essex residents who were buying them as gifts.  Sally Anne Kent was on hand to take some pictures and we were indebted to Tom Watson and library staff for looking after us! 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

BOOK SIGNING AT BRENTWOOD LIBRARY ON SATURDAY 15 NOVEMBER 10.00 TILL NOON

BOOK SIGNING IN BRENTWOOD LIBRARY ON SATURDAY STARTING 10.00-12 NOON.
Frances with her new book (October 2014)

Delighted to be signing my new book with my friend and colleague, Frances Clamp whose new book SOUTHEND-ON-SEA IN THE GREAT WAR will be on sale,  Before this, she is  appearing on BBC Essex Radio on Thursday at 3pm and you will have a chance to hear how she researched and wrote this super book. By the way, both Frances and I are long time members of the Society of Women Writers & Journalists, the very best organisation for professional writers - check us out at www.swwj.co.uk


My newest book (10th) is from another area - BARKING & DAGENHAM, which is now a London Borough and in 2015, will be celebrating its 50th birthday, for, as older people will know, the two towns were once separate.  More than 180 photographs  and postcards are included and there are some surprising inages with many historical links to nationally known characters.

The Duo - Kent and Clamp in London last week at the Society Women Writers & Journalists' 120th Anniversary celebrations at Stationers' Hall, London


Sunday, November 09, 2014

BARKING & DISTRICT HISTORICAL SOCIETY - A RATHER SPECIAL EVENING AT HARP HOUSE

Amberley Publishing Limited in Stroud has now published my latest book (tenth) which I took with me last week when the BARKING & DISTRICT HISTORICAL SOCIETY celebrated their 80th birthday. Enjoyed meeting lots of local historians and there were lovely folk at Harp House - their regular monthly meeting place.   This is a super group with excellent knowledge of their borough. Guest speaker was Keith Glenny, someone I've been interested in meeting for ages, well, since I started research on this latest book and how lovely to meet the BDHS President Bill George and Chairman John Blake.

Other book signing sessions are on the diary including Brentwood Library on Saturday 15 November at 10.00 till noon; Frances Clamp, my literary chum will also be signing her book that day (Southend-on-Sea in the Great War) so we are looking forward to seeing friends and people, many of whom actually appear in our books. I have more signings at Dagenham Library (date to be fixed), Valence House Museum and Eastbury Manor House - the latter two, my favourite historical mansions, are certainly worth a visit at any time of the year, but particularly at Christmas. 


Monday, November 03, 2014

WHEN THE ESSEX REGIMENT WENT TO WAR.- ESSEX HUNDRED PUBLICATIONS They Did Their Duty’


Andrew Summers & John Debenham publicising earlier books 
Here we have a new book from Essex Hundred Publications which examines the First World War from an Essex perspective.   The book has three themes.

1. The establishment of Essex Farm in Belgium,

2. An overview of the Essex Regiment during the war,

3. Something quite unique for a First World War title, the home front AS SEEN AND REPORTED THROUGH THE EYES OF THE LONDON and ESSEX BASED LOCAL PRESS.

Today all our news reporting, past and present, is seen through
the prism of 21st century communications'  technology. In ‘They Did Their Duty’  we reflect on what the local press actually printed in its own words. It is quite surprising in many cases with what the local press filled its pages. It has to be remembered during that Great War, there was no radio, television and of course internet or social media. Telephones were a rarity and photography and film in their infancy.  Thus, apart from word of mouth, the only source of news was print media. The book is illustrated with maps and photographs and period newspaper advertisements.

Available from the usual book stockists, online or direct from the publisher. ISBN 9780955229596 RRP £9.99 
www.essex100.com or ask@essex100.com

Saturday, November 01, 2014

NEW BOOK OUT - WILL REPLY TO READERS ASAP

Lovely reminder of West Ham team in 1972 - some familiar fresh young faces - see if you can name them? Several were in the 1966 World Cup  
Delighted that flyers and posters arrived this morning from AMBERLEY PUBLISHING'S PUBLICITY TEAM.  This advertises my new book BARKING & DAGENHAM FROM OLD PHOTOGRAPHS and already orders are coming in!  Have book signings in the diary. Thank you Amberley.  Few photos from my book are shown below.  Delighted with response and am currently thanking all those super people who responded to my request. Article currently in this week's Barking & Dagenham Post page 11/12 and due to appear in  a few glossies.  Seems we have some well known names emanating from the old Borough (which will be 50 years old on 1 April 2015)


Always such a delight to talk to.  How grateful I am to Dame Vera Lynn for this super recent photograph.She has also given me some wonderful personal memories of her life in Upney Lane during World War 11.  From records, I've gathered many world renowned entertainers, singers, actors and leaders in politics and government who are, or have been, connected with this well known Borough of Barking & Dagenham. 



Let's contrast this photo of the first vehicle off the assembly  line at Ford Motor Company in Dagenham in 1931 with this rather unusual photograph starring two  local lads  Sir Trevor Brooking and Frank Bruno.  The occasion was the production of the company's 250 millionth vehicle worldwide.  I thoroughly meeting the staff at Ford during my research at Dagenham and at their headquarters at Eagle Way, Warley, Brentwood, Essex. 
Sir Trevor Brooking and Frank Bruno helping the celebrations of Ford's success in 1996

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

WORLD WAR ONE DISPLAY AT BILLERICAY, ESSEX

Downloading photos from Billericay Cater Museum's World War One commemoration day on Saturday held at the Reading Rooms.  Uniforms were authentic and were worn by the splendid re-enactment group organised by the Western Front Association. Met so many super people looking after the displays and memorabilia. Really enjoyed this and also the lecture during the evening organised by Karen and Steve Dennis - superb!  This is the first of five lectures to be held each year till 2018.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

MICHELLE WARD PRESENTER AT RADIO PHOENIX 98FM WELCOMES AMBERLEY AUTHORS

Jessica Michelle and Sylvia
Yep - me again.  Currently working on publicity for my new book BARKING & DAGENHAM FROM OLD PHOTOGRAPHS - whew! Two years of research and interviewing for this, my 10th book.  Michelle Ward invited me into studio with my friend and SWWJ colleague Karen Bowman (left) whose books Essex Girls and Essex Boys were the topic on this morning's programme. 

Always a warm welcome in the studio at Brentwood. Karen's books are a dream for folk interested in Essex (and national) history, full of fascinating characters, from kings and queens to nuns and novices and I learnt such a lot from reviewing (check back in the top left hand box of this weblog to July 2010 when I reviewed her Essex Girls). Karen's meticulous research is appreciated and I'm glad that she will be bringing out a new book Codpieces and Corsets next spring - must buy that one. Sounds fun! Jessica from the Mayflower School in Billericay is currently helping Michelle in the studio - a bright 15-year-old student. 


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

SWWJ CELEBRATES A RATHER SPECIAL BIRTHDAY IN LONDON

SWWJ President Victoria Wood with members Pamela Payne and Patrick Forsyth 
Wonderful day at Stationers' Hall, Ave Maria Lane, London yesterday. As readers will know, our Society celebrated 120 years' existence as probably the world's oldest and most renowned writers' organisation.  Created by a lovely gentleman Mr Joseph Snell Wood (1853-1920), this excellent chap put up the money, arranged for offices and meeting rooms for us and generally created a society that has endured. We are proud of our members throughout the last century and today linked to some of the world's most famous journalists, novelists, playwrights, poets; in fact any professional women (and now men) who earn a living from the printed word.  The service at St Bride's Church, Fleet Street, was enhanced with beautiful music from the choir and address by our Life President,Baroness Williams of Crosby (Shirley Williams) and Libby Purves - breathtaking! Simon Brett read his very special poem dedicated to THE WOMAN WRITER and we appreciated the presence of so many super people who attended and spoke so movingly.
Pamela Birley and Lady Shirley Williams
 
Lunch at the Stationers' Livery Hall in Ave Maria Lane was brilliant.  Ann Widdecombe gave such a good talk - witty and amusing, as always and it was lovely to listen to Victoria Wood, such a joy.  Had a super time and a chance to catch up with family and friends.   
Val Dunmore, Ann Widdecombe & Master of the Stationers' Livery Company Ian Locks


Valerie Dunmore, Barbara Field-Holmes, Sylvia Kent

Saturday, October 11, 2014

MY NEW BOOK ARRIVED IN BOOK STORES TODAY - SURPRISING IMAGES WITHIN!

Well, here it is - my tenth book published by Amberley - first of the batch arrived this morning and am working my way through it, checking details.  It took about 18 months to research and write. One or two of my previously published books took far longer to produce. I'm not new to this work, but this time I travelled much more than I usually do, living some way from the Borough.  So grateful to such kind folk for spending time reflecting on years gone by and supplying some very interesting photographs for this book.  I love the front cover which shows Barking Curfew round about the turn of the last century.  This leads to St Margaret's Church, Barking and has special resonance for me and my family. See page 26 - tempus fugit!

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

ISLE OF WIGHT TRIP LAST WEEK - FABULOUS WEATHER SUPERB AT NORTON GRANGE

So lucky with weather last week - wonderful trip to the Island - discovered the home of our Society's (SWWJ) first President - Pearl Craigie (John Oliver Hobbes)  circa 1894, helped somewhat by two well informed chaps in the Ryde District Heritage Centre in Royal Victoria Arcade Museum. Pearl is pictured below.  You know, people are so kind in helping writers seeking research information.


An extra bonus from visiting the Ryde Historic Society Centre was learning about the world's most famous cartoonist Donald McGill (I feel a feature coming on!) with a dedicated space to him and his rather saucy postcards. Really enjoyed visiting there and will come back one day when we are on the this island. Even interviewed the postie taking the mail on WightLink ferry  to the island - whatta nice lively  boy - full of historical anecdotes. Norton Grange was good, too, highly professional entertainment team - far superior to some of the London scene groups.  Food magnificent!  100 star jumps each day to work off the extra weight. Maybe should have stayed a week as the Isle of Wight Literary Festival starts soon. 
.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

NOREEN RIOLS - OUR VERY OWN SPECIAL AGENT

As the history person for the  Society of Women Writers & Journalists, I love reading about my colleagues, past and present who make national news. As the Society has been in the business of writing for over 120 years, there are literally hundreds of famous journalists, novelists, poets and people connected with the literary scene who have made the headlines. Last week, the Daily Mail ran a story about one of our favourite overseas members, NOREEN RIOLS who, although living in France, manages to come to London for some of our major gatherings and special events.
Sylvia, Noreen,  Lynda Lee-Potter, Jennie Lisney  2001

Noreen's exciting  life as an 'agente provacatrice' employed by Winston Churchill's Special Operations Executive (SOE), kicked off in 1943 when, as an 18-year-old, she became part of World War II's spy testing team. The beautiful Noreen began work at the SOE's F-Section (F for France) - working as a bilingual secretary, helping prepare messages to be broadcast to France each evening by the BBC.  Her adventures and the people she met whilst spying for Britain are included in her book Katharine - Love and Drama in War-torn Britain and she has written many other titles which have brought her tremendous literary acclaim. 


Noreen's personal involvement with SOE remained a secret until the official files were opened in Millennium year and now she is sole survivor of just six women who worked at HQ with the celebrated Colonel Maurice Buckmaster.  


I am hoping she will attend our Society's 120th anniversary service to be held at St Bride's Church, Fleet Street, followed by our rather special luncheon at Stationers' Hall, just along the road from the church.   Date: Tuesday 14 October. Watch this space!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

DAVID GANDY AND MY LATEST EXPERIMENT

Just a year or so ago, you saw on this weblog a snap of a local boy, David Gandy, whom I met at Chelsea Flower Show.  He was attending the show with his parents and when we chatted, I found that he came from the same small town in Essex and was educated at Billericay School, about which I wrote a history. That's what I do, folks - write.

Anyway,  since then, I find his face - and other parts of his anatomy - pictured in almost every newspaper, well, he is the world's  top male model and the other day David's image was plastered across a London bus and on a few giant billboards.  The point of this little gem is that my one posting last year brought in thousands of weblog page views for yours truly (in just one day) and I'm waiting to see if it happens once again! That's my experiment for the week. 



Monday, September 22, 2014

CIRCUS ROSAIRE IN THE NEWS

Zena Rosaire with Salt and Saucy in their heyday
Lovely response from readers of Gazette commenting on my last week's article about the circus coming to the area. This was particularly agreeable as I know the super JOAN ROSAIRE whose CIRCUS ROSAIRE was very much a part of Billericay life many years ago.  Their winter quarters, housing their lions, tigers, horses and all kinds of trained animals lived at various farms around the town.  My friend, Jack Bartlett the local postman, well remembered passing the lion's cage as he delivered the morning mail.  One day, he came face to face with a large (friendly) bear who had somehow unchained himself and seemed to be smiling at Jack who was more than scared of those grinning teeth. 

Joan Rosaire still remembers those days when she was top of the circus posters specialising in intricate horse-riding tricks with her fabulous  horse Goldy, which eventually took her to the London Palladium and all around the world's top theatres.  Pic attached of her mum, Zena.  Have other snaps where elephants took her cousin to St Mary’s in Billericay High Street on her wedding day.
Glad to hear that Joan is now intent on writing her autobiography which obviously includes slices of circus life. I have some good pics of Joan and her family and here is more if you can read it. With thanks to Brentwood & Billericay Gazette. 





 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Monday, September 15, 2014

MARY VISITS PHOENIX 98FM AT BRENTWOOD ESSEX

Mary Kenyon with our super presenter Michelle Ward
Mary Kenyon meets our friend Greg at Phoenix 98fm

Party atmosphere last week at Brentwood's Phoenix 98fm when our guest on Book Club was Mary Kenyon, writer and award winning speaker. Mary was invited by Michelle Ward into the studio to talk about her days working with world famous novelist Graham Greene.  Her time at Bletchley Park working in Hut 6 (Enigma machine)  was also discussed and we ran out of time.  Hopefully, Mary will make a return visit to the studio and tell us more about her books and fascinating life during World War II.

Monday, September 08, 2014

PROGRAMME TODAY TALKING FRANK SINATRA AND SANDRA HOWARD. REVIEWING HER NEW BOOK

Frank Sinatra and Sandra Howard in 1961
Big pile of books to read. Have now finished Sandra Howard's new book TELL THE GIRL. Will be talking about it on radio next Wednesday, 10 September. Our presenter is the lovely Michelle Ward and our guest writer in the studio is Mary Kenyon.  Mary's life has been fascinating and she will tell us about the books she has written and her work with her one time employer, Graham Greene - now there's someone I would have enjoyed meeting (let alone working alongside).

The author of the month is Sandra Howard who just happens to be our fabulous patron at the Society of Writers & Journalists. TELL THE GIRL is  Sandra's fifth novel and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. Sandra was a famous model in the 1960s and she has used her life experiences as the basis for her story. 





We learn much about '60s London and the protagonist, Susannah Forbes, a sought-after model whose face is regularly on the cover of Vogue and the glossies of the time. However, the girl is struggling with her crumbling marriage and when her baby is born, she becomes a single mother. There's a fast, pacy feel to this book and it is very much a page-turner.


This book obviously  mirrors Sandra Howard's own life,as she is a contemporary of mine and I certainly remember seeing her in the many glamorous ads of the time. She, too, has led a fascinating life and has indeed met the great names, such as Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra, and a couple of US presidents along the way, which, incidentally, she mentions in her book. 



Our team at the SWWJ were thrilled when Sandra joined our society as a Patron and we appreciate the say she invariably takes an active part in our celebrations and events.