Hello lovely readers! I apologise yet again for my long silence, but it has been productive. I have now cleared away most of my research books and notes so I am no longer at risk of breaking my neck every time I move around my workroom.
I have completed my three books which will be launched as soon as my cover design is complete. In the meantime, here is a quick taster of what I’ve been working on. All three are very different books, focusing on early technology, wife selling and slavery/abolition, but they are linked in time – they are all concerned with eighteenth century Britain, a period that is mostly underrepresented, or scattered with stories of drunkenness and bad behaviour.
But it was when England emerged, confused and exhausted from the drawn out chaos and carnage of the Reformation, civil war and plague to stumble into creating a huge and largely successful empire. This is not to deny that horrific things happened, but there was – and still is – much about this tiny archipelago and its people that is extraordinary. The language you are reading this in is the world’s major language, of academia, of air traffic control and maritime trade because these islands once dominated world navigation and trade, of pop music and culture.
This is from E. Keble Chatterton’s book English Seamen and the Colonization of America in which he describes the first settlement there:
“Thomas Smith and his friends were merely following the precedent of Spain, who had exploited the New World with the most satisfactory results financially. But the Anglo-Saxon mind was of a peculiar sort. Centuries of history had given the insular-bred English character a keen sensitiveness regarding freedom. England, from her geographical position and the paucity of shipping, had been aloof from European influences to a surprising degree. But she had worked out during the Middle Ages an extension of liberty to her people. The suppression of the Barons, the legal reforms, the summoning of he first representative Parliament under Edward I, the forbidding of taxation without Parliament’s consent, the sixteenth-century assertion of national freedom from Rome, the strenuous resistance of Spain’s maritime exclusiveness, all these and many smaller movements had made Thomas Smith’s fellow-countrymen almost fanatical in their attitude toward unfettered right to live as they pleased. The psychology of the English crowd is that it will endure every kind of misery and physical suffering on behalf of freedom; but in the absence of liberty it will magnify every small inconvenience, lose all interest, become rebellious and fight to the last ditch against tyranny and injustice. In those days the intellect was less quick to reason and resolve than modern education and experience have enabled. It took 169 years, or several generations, before the American colonists broke out in revolt against the very principles which had been laid down by a London company of hard-headed, keen, astute but unsympathetic men in 1606. Lack of imagination, neglect to consider the possible reaction of a tight policy on struggling human beings, are faults quite as serious as slackness or rashness;”
I believe that people have a default setting to be good. Children are not born racist, misogynist or any other -ists. This is something that is learned from life. Much of my work focuses on why people behaved as they did. I try to make no judgments, as I was not there; ultimately we can never really know what happened.
What I offer you is thus a load of guesswork. But I have spent years reading and thinking about these stories. I think my guesses come close to the truth, or at least as close as it is possible at this distance in time.