On Sunday 11th October I went to a writing workshop – The Biographer’s Tale – with the Writer-in-Residence at Coleridge Cottage in Nether Stowey, Rose Collis. It was an informative afternoon, the only problem was that publicity had not hit its targets and I was the only attendee on the twelve place course.
It made it hard for Rose running the workshop, but gave me two hours of individual attention. Rose Collis has been many things as well as a writer and the afternoon might well have brought back memories of her performing days on stage when a modest audience turns up to a performance. But the show must go on and it did.
The afternoon took us (me) through the generation of biographic ideas, the objectives and sources of research, not least these dictums:
- What do we think?
- What do we know?
- What can we prove?
Although I am not a writer of biographies, I do need to research the places and times in which I set my stories.
Also I have access to family papers from the early 1800s that provide the bones of fascinating situations; in a first case an heir being disinherited and in a second case a diary of a Yorkshire woollen goods merchant making business trips in 1821 over the Pennines by carriage and by sea in sailing packets to Ireland and the adventures those travels entailed.
The workshop on biography gave me real help in how to approach the writing of these tales.