Saturday 31 January 2015

A few days in Oxford

Good morning! This was my view as I emerged from work yesterday afternoon. I am back in Oxford, carrying out some research for my biography of Catherine Howard, Young and Damned and Fair, which will be out next year. I'm so happy to be back here, working in the Bodleian again. When I was an undergrad here, I had my own preferred place to work, and the habit has stuck. My current nook of choice is in the Bod's Upper Reading Room, down by the windows that overlook the Bridge of Sighs, behind me, and the entrance to Holywell Street and what was once the History Faculty Library. Now, all the History books for the faculty are kept in the Gladstone Link, an underground facility with a tunnel that runs beneath the cobblestones. It's a bunker of books.

I got in yesterday morning and stayed at the Randolph Hotel again. I am a sucker for a good poached egg, and along with not being able to carry any kind of musical note in song, not being able to execute the perfect one myself is a huge regret. (Resolution for 2015?) The poachies this morning were fantastic - so I have no excuse after a good breakfast not to be as productive as possible for the rest of the day. The library closes a little early at the weekends, so this evening I'm having dinner with one of my favourite people in the world, a dear friend who I first met in these cobbled streets. I'm telling myself that these evening plans are a good incentive to plough through some very questionable handwriting, even by sixteenth-century standards. I'll think of it as earning rewards, and whatnot.

I am going to keep you all posted about how the research is going over the next few months, and where I'm off to. In the meantime, I'm off to some sixteenth-century wills. Have a wonderful day. 


  1. It is amazing how long the memories and experiences of our undergrad years last. I spent the second half of the 1960s inside the state library, a place that still evokes very strong feelings 45 years later.

    But that begs another question. What will happen now that the computerised generation never visits a university or state library? Will they get emotional visiting their desk and laptop at home?

  2. Would love to read your new Katherine Howard biography! Any hints as to what we can look forward to?

  3. It is lovely that here they still put so much emphasis on libraries and books, Hels, definitely! For me, there's nothing quite like the feel of a book. I can't explain it.

    Thank you, Roland, that's so wonderful to hear; I can't give too much away, at this stage. But I can say that I'm having the most fantastic time writing it!


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