Votes for Women! The Bristol Suffragettes on Talking Books

BristolsuffragettesOn last Friday’s Talking Books – my radio show on -I interviewed writer Lucienne Boyce, who has recently published a wonderful book called The Bristol Suffragettes, the story of the women who took the fight for ‘votes for all ‘ to the streets of Bristol in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Many of us (myself included) have a narrow view of who the suffragettes were, what they stood for and how they took militant and direct action to the top of government. On Friday I learned how women in the South West of England made a real difference to the overall battle and how their determination took them to rallies and marches; how they felt forced to break windows and start fires; of their confidence to heckle politicians and, ultimately, their ability to endure prison (and force feeding) to keep the fight for votes for women at the forefront of the public mind.

Having read Lucienne’s book I am impressed most particularly by three things:

1. The amount of research that has gone into a book that is both comprehensive and immensely readable. It would be a terrific resource for anyone studying the subject at any level. The general reader – especially if they know the Bristol area or are planning a visit – will enjoy the storytelling, the photographs (so well presented on top quality paper) and the guided walk included in the back, offering the opportunity to follow the suffragettes on a walk around the city.

2. The production values. As I say the photos are presented well and the text is clear and easy to read. So many history books don’t get that balance right, having all the photos in one place surrounded by pages of dense text.

3. How grateful we should be to those women prepared to stand up and fight for us all to have a say in how our country is run.  Lucienne has balanced what was, sometimes, criminal activity, with the necessary fight that women had to take to the male establishment. They were also faced with hostility from women who felt that the responsibility was too much to deal with on top of their child rearing and housekeeping responsibilities.

I heartily recommend this book, and when you listen to the broadcast below you will hear how passionate Lucienne is about the topic. I have had some great feedback about the programme: ‘fascinating’ ‘we must have more history programmes on Talking Books‘ ‘I never knew that!’ and most importantly, ‘how can I buy the book?’.

As mentioned on the programme I always suggest ordering it through your local bookshop and even though it is not yet listed you can get it through If you absolutely must you can get it through Amazon too!

Lucienne Boyce also has her own website which offers more details about the book and her research and also tells you about her fiction writing.  Set in the 18th century, To the Fair Land was published in 2012 to great reviews. Described as a ‘gripping, thrilling’ mystery, Lucienne also talks about the inspiration for the book at the end of Talking Books.

So do take a listen to the show, it was one that I particularly enjoyed. It is a fascinating half hour and ends with a very stirring song….

NaNoWriMo: 43,000 and counting….

The third of my occasional posts for National Novel Writing Month. Don’t worry, it’s nearly over…

I love Christmas. Always look forward to it. But this year I am anticipating opening the first door of the advent calendar with particular enthusiasm. It will be December 1st and  NaNoWriMo will be over. For better or for worse. Thank goodness for that.

Don’t get me wrong; I hate to wish even a few days of my life away and I love writing. However NaNoWriMo places a particular kind of pressure on an obsessive compulsive with an addictive personality like me. Others take a philosophical view if they stall at 10k, but I HAVE to get to 50,000 words written by midnight on the 30th. Or else.

The real difficulty is that I know it is a shocking piece of writing. I am flitting about between decades as if I am in H G Wells’ time machine, the Tardis or the phone booth in Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure. One minute it is 2010, the next it is 1882; or 1905; or 1922 ; or 1864. Today I added 1932. The characters are largely the same in each period, so continuity is a nightmare. They probably haven’t changed their underwear in sixty years.

So what do I think is the point of the exercise? Why is National Novel Writing Month a ‘good thing’? Creative writing courses everywhere say ‘Just write!’ ‘Practice writing every day!’ ‘Don’t eat till you get 500 words on the page’. OK, so I made the last one up but it is probably out there somewhere as sage advice. NaNo makes you do these things and millions around the world put themselves through the mental torture every year so there must be something to be said for it. Or is there? Is it simply another way to speed life up to an unbearable degree? WiFi words. A book at the speed of broadband….. Continue reading “NaNoWriMo: 43,000 and counting….”