Meet the archivist…at the Marx Memorial Library

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June 6, 2015 by Lydia Syson

MML1

This interview first appeared on The History Girls blogsite on June 6th 2015: 

In April I wrote about the Conscience and Conflict exhibition of British artists’ responses to the Spanish Civil War, which closes tomorrow. If you’ve been lucky enough to see it, either in Chichester or Newcastle, you may have noticed some wonderful loans from the Marx Memorial Library, home of the British International Brigade archives.  This rich and varied collection is just one reason to visit the Library, which now offers twice-weekly guided tours. I’ve been talking to the MML’s new(ish) archivist and development officer, Meirian Jump, pictured here at work in the reading room in front of a mural by Viscount Hastings, painted in 1934. keep reading


Blog tour roundup. . .

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May 12, 2015 by Lydia Syson

AuthorsforNepal

Liberty’s Fire is now out in the world, and the first reviews have even appeared – you’ll find links to all those online here.  Oddly enough, I find that even when a book is printed and published, it’s only when people who’ve read it start to ask me questions that I really begin to know what I think about it.  Last week I was keep reading


Citoyennes: women of the Paris Commune

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May 5, 2015 by Lydia Syson

LouiseMichelNatGuarduniform

The mythical figure of the pétroleuse, hideous or heroic depending on your point of view, has now almost been forgotten. For decades it was the most abiding image of the 1871 Paris Commune, and undoubtedly helped to hide the true history of real women’s involvement in France’s last nineteenth-century revolution. Edith Thomas broke new ground in uncovering this history with Les Petroleuses (1963), angry yet almost apologetic about the need for a corrective to misogynistic accounts of events coming from both sides of the political divide. I’ve written about the ‘women incendiaries’ for The History Girls keep reading


Coming up…

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April 12, 2015 by Lydia Syson

annefrank2

Lots of good things happening this month and next…

On Tuesday 14th April the Anne Frank Trust will be at the British Library launching a new campaign called #notsilent to mark the 70th anniversary of the death of the world’s best known diarist. The organisation was set up twenty-five years ago with the aim of using Anne Frank’s life and her diary to encourage young people everywhere to combat prejudice and challenge hatred and discrimination, working through educational projects with young people in schools, prisons and communities throughout the UK. The idea behind the campaign is that instead of remembering Anne Frank with one minute’s silence, we all spend time talking about her as much as possible. keep reading


Conscience and Conflict

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March 6, 2015 by Lydia Syson

spanishprisoner

A ground-breaking exhibition exploring British artists’ many and varied responses to the Spanish Civil War transfers tomorrow from Pallant House Gallery in Chichester to the Laing Art Gallery in Newcastle.  On The History Girls today I’ve blogged about the show and the accompanying book by Simon Martin, which is also excellent.  Henry Moore’s lithograph Spanish Prisoner (above – see below for details) was made to raise money for the thousands of Spanish refugees held in detention camps in France – almost as many as had already been killed in combat, and as many again as were executed by Franco’s regime after the war.  The outbreak of World War Two intervened: Camberwell School of Art shut with Moore’s work trapped inside and there were no funds to pay the printer. Moore later returned to the theme in three-dimensional form. keep reading


Bees not fleas

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February 24, 2015 by Lydia Syson

HelenGrantUrbanLegends

Fellow YA author Helen Grant and I struck up conversation on Twitter at the weekend after reading a couple of responses from disgruntled male writers to the YouGov poll which found – surprise, surprise – that most people would rather be writers than go down the pit. To counter the prevailing myth that writing books is always a miserable, lonely profession, we collaborated on this book blog for The Guardian. keep reading


Proof Fever

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January 27, 2015 by Lydia Syson

Liberty's Fire Cover

‘At first the children thought ‘the proof’ meant the letter the sensible Editor had written, but they presently got to know that the proof was long slips of paper with the story printed on them.  Whenever an Editor was sensible there were buns for tea.’

The Railway Children, E. Nesbit

In our house, buns for tea celebrate a contract.  The arrival of the page proofs means the work begins, and everyone is head down for a while.  Proof fever is raging this week for Liberty’s Fire. keep reading


Epiphany

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January 6, 2015 by Lydia Syson

galettedesrois

Twelfth night always seems a better time to start the year than January 1st. The decorations are back under the eaves, the tree is on the path waiting to be picked up and turned into sawdust, and no word could offer more promise than epiphany. So today, dear reader, I wish you many epiphanic moments in literature and life in the year ahead. keep reading


Can I get there by Candlelight?

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December 7, 2014 by Lydia Syson

Tis Pity 002

If you head over to The History Girls, you’ll find some seasonal thoughts on candlelight through time, how light can affect plot, and the magical experience of watching ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore from the Musicians’ Gallery of the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse.


Hiawatha: Photographer

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November 24, 2014 by Lydia Syson

Hiawathphotographing

As some of you may know from my most recent post on The History Girls, I’ve been doing a lot of research this year into nineteenth-century photography for my new book, Liberty’s Fire.  One day, just as I was despairing that I would ever get my head round the different processes involved in wet, as opposed to dry, collodion, or daguerreotype and tintype, or remember exactly how long each stage might take, or which chemicals would have what effect, let alone weave this seamlessly into a gripping narrative, I came across a wonderful poem by Lewis Carroll which made me laugh out loud. Since I am deep in edits, I thought I’d share it with you now. keep reading


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