Blog

  1. Summer news – updated

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    August 1, 2014 by Lydia Syson

    Daumiernewspaperreading

    This is a bits-and-pieces, catch-up kind of a post, mostly to express my gratitude to lots of different people who’ve helped me in my work in lots of different ways over the past few months… keep reading


  2. Darkling I listen

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    July 3, 2014 by Lydia Syson

    Nightingale-Luscinia-mega-006

    I’ve only heard a nightingale sing once, in a wood near Bristol, when I was in my early twenties.  Last Sunday I stood in the dark and listened to a recording made in 1942, in Surrey.  This nightingale was ‘pouring forth its soul abroad’ – rather more widely even than Keats’ bird, since it was being broadcast live by the BBC – in a short-lived annual tradition that was about to end.  It was broken that night because the engineer realised that his new high-fidelity microphone was also picking up the growing hum of a flight of bombers.  Nearly two hundred aircraft were heading for Germany, and he did not want to warn the enemy of the impending raid.  Fortunately he continued to record, if not to broadcast, and  the result is now part of The Wind Tunnel Project. keep reading


  3. Celebrating Romance

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    June 5, 2014 by Lydia Syson

    romancefestival_red_final

    Think of historical romance, and I suspect you’ll find yourself instantly bogged down in swathes of taffeta, tripping over corset-laces and tumbling into somebody’s moonlit arms beneath ivy-bedecked castle walls.   keep reading


  4. Observe yourself

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    May 11, 2014 by Lydia Syson

    Orwellaspidistra

    Fieldwork. An anthropology of our own people, in the name of progress.  Political empowerment.  Or covert surveillance?  Furtive notebooks and licked pencils? Psychoanthroposociologic Nosey Parkers, according to the Daily Herald.

    You would struggle to find anything more utterly characteristic of the 1930s than the Mass Observation movement, and the mixed responses this social observation project provoked. I don’t think I could have written That Burning Summer without the help of the Mass Observers.

    keep reading


  5. Writing competition results

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    May 2, 2014 by Lydia Syson

    Warsaw, September 1939

    Last month I wrote about a high-tech school visit I’d made to Sydenham School in South London. Today I’m delighted to announce the results of the creative writing competition. keep reading


  6. Diving deeper: into the ‘Glass Room’

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    April 27, 2014 by Lydia Syson

    South London Press, 21.3.14

    Writing historical fiction demands total immersion.  It’s a fairly obsessive process, but well worth it.  Bit by bit, you build up an increasingly accurate and nuanced picture of the world your characters inhabit, discover what makes them tick, what might affect the way they think and feel about events.  Not surprisingly, I was immediately intrigued when I was invited to use the new ‘immersion room’ at Sydenham School, London, for a planned event with some of their year 8 and 9 students. keep reading


  7. #UKYADay

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    April 19, 2014 by Lydia Syson

    Project UKYA Button

    I’m not going to assume that everybody who reads this will instantly understand the title of this post, but I have a feeling that in twenty or thirty years time, someone, somewhere, will be writing a thesis about the phenomenon that is UKYA.  And nobody will need an explanation. keep reading


  8. Len Crome Memorial Lecture 2014: Taking Sides

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    March 2, 2014 by Lydia Syson

    Hora de Espana magazine cover

    The Spanish Civil War ‘gripped the imagination of a generation’, said Valentine Cunningham this weekend at Taking Sides: Artists and Writers on the Spanish Civil War.  To judge from the huge and variously-aged turnout at the event, not to mention the responses I’ve had from young readers of my own novel on the subject, it will continue to do so for several generations to come.   keep reading


  9. National Libraries Day

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    February 8, 2014 by Lydia Syson

    NDL

    Today’s the day to show your love for all the libraries in the country, and celebrate with millions of other library lovers. You can read my guest blog for NLD2014 here and find out more about events near you and get involved here.  So here’s to libraries everywhere! Can you imagine life without them?


  10. Authors Take Sides

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    January 26, 2014 by Lydia Syson

    NancyCunardlyingdown

    Who is this glorious woman?

    If you saw the recent production of The Scottsboro Boys at the Young Vic in London you’ll be interested in her involvement in the campaigns on both sides of the Atlantic to free these nine young black men falsely charged with raping two white women on a freight train in Alabama in 1931.  The dazzlingly beautiful, taboo-breaking daughter of a British shipping magnate, Nancy Cunard started her career as a journalist with the Associated Negro Press (ANP), but she was also a poet, political activist and a publisher.  Charismatic and idealistic, she clearly had a genius for motivating the radical intellectual circles, black and white, in which she largely moved. keep reading


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