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Showing posts from October, 2012

Festive October in Bristol, Bath and Cheltenham

So the Bristol Literature Festival 2012 is over – and I almost wish it could have gone on for ever! (Though I’m sure the hard-working volunteer organisers must be glad they can have a well-deserved rest now.) It was a fantastic week of events with some great authors giving talks and readings – Helen Dunmore, Emylia Hall, Iain M Banks and many others. The programme was a mix of poetry, short stories, readings, sessions for writers, events for readers, activities for children and more. This was the second Festival and I’m already looking forward to the third.

My particular interest is in historical fiction so I thoroughly enjoyed the two events I attended. The first was Michèle Roberts, Georgina Harding and Patricia Ferguson who read from their books and discussed their work afterwards. Many themes were touched on, especially war and its impact on non-combatants. A couple of nights later I saw Andrew Miller and Clare Clark, who answered questions about their work and its relationship to…

Strange Carryings On

I’ve just read The Weekes Family Letters, the correspondence between Hampton Weekes (1780-1855) during his time as a student at St Thomas’s Hospital in 1801-2, to his family at Hurstpierpoint in Sussex. Hampton Weekes came from a medical family: his father and younger brother Dick were both doctors (surgeon-apothecaries). His Father Richard had studied at St Thomas’s before him, and Dick was due to study there when Hampton had finished. His mother was dead and his step-mother Elizabeth died in 1802. She brought with her a daughter, Fanny. Hampton also had two sisters, Mary Ann and Grace, who with their step-sister helped run the family’s medical practice.

Besides being illuminating about the practice of medicine and the attitudes and beliefs of eighteenth-century practitioners and patients, the letters give a vivid insight into the life of a close and affectionate family. (The exception is the step-mother, who the Weekes children were not particularly fond of.) They share advice on wh…