Historical Research and Biography

Now that I am reaching the end of my first draft of Captain Thomas Bowrey’s biography, I can reflect on how far I have come since I first considered writing it back in August 2014. At that stage, I knew so little but something told me there was a story that had to be told. Now I know that there is. The shape of my book is clear in my mind. I understand Thomas’ life – his motivations and his character.

How have I reached this point?

Continued research has been so important. Until starting to write about a period or incident, there are still unknown unknowns. Although, a line does have to be drawn, focused and targeted research is invaluable. For quick questions, archivists and librarians around the world have been generous with their assistance for which I am extremely grateful. Larger gaps in my knowledge have required an impromptu research trips.

The greatest joy has come from a question asked by others interested in aspect of Thomas’ life. They may have responded to a blog post I have written, something I have said or an enquiry I have made but, however we have made contact, they have encouraged me to investigate an associate of Thomas in more detail. I have to thank Anna Winterbottom, Andrew Smith and Gill Blanchard for their contributions to spurring me to add to the breadth and depth of the story.

Further progress has been made in response to exercises set as part of the writing workshops I have taken. The impetus these have given has been invaluable in developing the biography more fully.

It may be a cliché but I have been on a journey and, along the way others have joined me, sometimes briefly, sometimes for longer. Writing is not, and cannot be, a solitary activity. A prospective author has to start the writing but there will always be further questions to answer. T just may not know what they are. Others can help form the questions as well as provide the encouragement to look for answers.

There is still some way to go. There is the final chapter to finish before I go back to the beginning and rework especially the chapters I wrote earlier in the process. When I started, the thought of having to rewrite any of the chapters was horrifying. Now I am actually looking forward to it. If there is anyone who is in the position I was back in 2014, I would encourage you just to start writing. You will not know what you can do until you try.


2 thoughts on “Historical Research and Biography

  1. I tried to reply to your last post, but I was away and my phone couldn’t remember my password.
    Congratulations on managing to post every day for a year. Every one was interesting – even the ones that didn’t mention John Madder!
    Good luck with the book – I’ll buy it – in fact, if you want somebody to give it a look through, once it’s in a fit state, I’d be happy to volunteer.
    Best wishes


    1. Christine
      Thank you for your kind words. It would be great to have someone read it through once I have reworked it. You have been a great help over the past few years.
      When ever I write about John Madder or the Worcester, I think of you!


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