Sunday, March 27, 2016


Jacqui James at the controls
Carrot cake, easter eggs and a hugely warm welcome this afternoon provided by Jacqui James (Presenter and Chairman of BHR )  in the company of  Alan Newman, Peter Irvin and Steve King.  It was a real party atmosphere to greet the super Aris Papaioannou from Southend.Hospital Radio. A seasoned radio pro, he arrived with his personal 'cans'.  Jacqui had already collected numerous musical  requests from patients and hospital staff and I had a lovely time as Jacqui had used a couple of my books as theme material - very clever stuff, matching musical choices to some of my chapters on superstitions, witchcraft, herbal remedies etc. 

Ari gave us some fascinating stories from his home country of Greece and I came away, as usual, realising I had a lot of reading to do and even more ideas and projects to research.


Wednesday, March 16, 2016


Many thanks to readers of my blog and of the local press, particularly this week's Essex Chronicle. With a lifetime's interest in county provenance and our regional press, it was a pleasure researching this enigmatic lady's history.   Now turning her into a short story!

By the way, the Essex Chronicle is one of our most famous newspapers.  Introduced in August 1764 as the Chelmsford Chronicle with a couple of changes in between, it has appeared weekly ever since.  Within its pages we read of vast changes and developments from body snatching to our very own Essex Captain Cook's exploits and final decease to men on the moon and all that technology has brought us. 

I am hoping to  visit the Chronicle's office again soon and - if I am very quiet and keep out of the way (wearing my little white archivist's gloves) , hope to gently turn the pages of their ancient bound volumes and find out more - my idea of heaven! 

Tuesday, March 08, 2016


As the Archivist to the Society of Women Writers and Journalists who met in Council in London yesterday, I can tell you that we are also celebrating International Women's Day around the world. This is traditionally marked on 8 March. In some regions, the day lost its political flavour and became simply an occasion for people to express their love for women in a way somewhat similar to a mixture of Mother's Day and Valentine's Day - what a loving combination!
Yours truly and Victoria Wood - our SWWJ Patron

Around the world these days,  focus of the anniversary ranges from general celebration of respect, appreciation, and love towards women's achievements in the past (and of course in the present). Currently writing about the suffragettes in our own SWWJ organisation which will mark our own 122nd birthday on 1 May. We enjoyed the most wonderful party at Stationers' Hall in London on our 120th and we welcome writers from around the globe.  SWWJ aims to encourage literary achievement, to uphold professional standards, to promote social contact with fellow writers and to defend the dignity and prestige of the writing profession in all its aspects.Check us out at and join us?

Monday, March 07, 2016


So kind of this world famous concert pianist MOTOKI HIRAI To invite us to his piano recital at the Barbican Concert Hall in London on Thursday. Wonderful performance and a joy to listen to one of the very best musicians!  Funds donated to the  2011 Japanese Tsunami Appeal. Check out his website at www.motoki-hirai to learn more.

Wednesday, March 02, 2016


Grayson Perry poses with fans at Chelmsford'University on Monday evening

We all enjoyed meeting Grayson Perry at the official launch of the Essex Book Festival on 29 February. Met so many familiar folk who certainly wouldn't have missed the chance of having their books signed by this well-known Turner Prize-winning artist.  Grayson is a local lad, born just up the road at St John's Hospital in Chelmsford.  Through March, we will be meeting many other famous writers, artists, poets, journalists - even a couple of politicians - well, the Book Festival is always packed with interesting names.  Check us out at
There might be some tickets left!


Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Latest radio show with author Amanda J Thomas

Sylvia kent Amanda Thomas Feb Book Club
Always a pleasure to have East Anglian writers in the studio.  Each month we invite a  talented writer into Phoenix FM and February's guest was the turn of Amanda J Thomas.from Harpenden, Hertfordshire.
Along with her writing, Amanda is a member of The Society of Women Writers and Journalists, The Historical Novel Society, Brentwood Writers' Circle, The Council for British Archaeology, The Kent Archaeological Society and they are merely a few! As you can see, Amanda is an extremely busy, successful author. She is already researching her next book, details of which she outlined in our interview. Amanda’s latest book, Cholera – The Victorian Plague is out now and can be found in good bookshops and on Amazon. .
Cholera – The Victorian Plague
Discover the story of the disease that devastated the Victorian population, and brought about major changes in sanitation. Drawing on the latest scientific research and a wealth of archival material, Amanda Thomas uses first-hand accounts, blending personal stories with an overview of the history of the disease and its devastating after-effects on British society. This fascinating history of a catastrophic disease uncovers forgotten stories from each of the major cholera outbreaks in 1831-3, 1848-9, 1853-4 and 1866. Amanda Thomas reveals that Victorian theories about the disease were often closer to the truth than we might assume, among them the belief that cholera was spread by miasma, or foul air.
Find out more about Amanda’s work, her blog to buy a copy of the book