Tuesday, November 17, 2009


One of the first things that struck me when I visited Pompeii a few weeks ago was the pure size of the place. The site is absolutely huge and, instead of staying just a day, I could have stayed a week or more to explore the fantastic ruins. I could clearly imagine how the people lived, went about their everyday lives, and bought and sold their wares. Evidence of the extensive traffic can be seen in the deep ruts in the thoroughfares. One can only imagine the amount of traffic that caused such deep indentations in hard stone.

Between 1860 and 1875, a gentleman called Giuseppe Fiorelli, Director of Excavations at Pompeii began an extensive program to preserve the body forms that were left after Vesuvius erupted. Under mountains of ash, the bodies lay where they had died in 79 AD. Fiorelli used a method that is still in use today. It begins by pouring liquid plaster into the cavity left in the compacted ash by the body. The plaster dried quickly providing a near perfect form of the deceased – whether human or animal - absolutely fascinating!

Unfortunately, I did not have time to visit Herculaneum, a sister city of Pompeii that was also destroyed when Mount Vesuvius erupted, but I understand from other travelers, it’s well worth a visit too. Perhaps next time!

Please note: "The ascent to the edge of the crater costs 6 Euro. It closes between 3 PM and 6PM depending on the season. It is recommendable to visit the Vesuvius on working days, as locals like to visit it on weekends and this can lead to traffic jams."

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Tattered Book Cover Event

After publishing five non-fiction books, I was ready to write my first novel. I had this great idea of writing an historical novel based on an ancient Scottish legend. One hundred thousand words later, I knew I needed help, and found it in Laura Pritchett. Every writer should have an editor who is honest and kind, gentle with criticism, and generous with praise. However, Laura is no pushover, and challenges me over and over again – which is what I need.

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of getting together with Laura at The Tattered Book Cover in downtown Denver for the release of How the West Was Warmed. Laura, together with several of the forty plus writers who submitted essays, attended the launch of the book. The event hall was packed with more than seventy-five people who afterwards lined up for a copy signed by the contributors. It was a fun event and a great way to spend a snowy afternoon.

Friday, November 06, 2009

The Woman Writer by Sylvia Kent

Sylvia Kent has written an account of Britain’s oldest society dedicated to women’s writing through its 116-year existence.

Although the Society of Women Writers and Journalists was created very much with women in mind, the concept was the brainchild of a man – an enterprising London philanthropist and newspaperman – Joseph Snell Wood. From its introduction on 1 May 1894, the Society has attracted the company of many of the world’s most famous women writers, journalists, poets, playwrights and associated creative people involved in the wider world of literature, film, music, theatre and entertainment. More than 200 women flocked to its first meeting and membership continued to expand year on year.

Given the small number of women in journalism at the time, almost every practising woman journalist must have applied for membership. Certainly the great names of Victorian media were there, such as American playwright, Pearl Craigie, Lady Sarah Wilson who reported from Mafeking on the Boer War, and Alice Meynell, who nearly became the first female Poet Laureate. Luminaries such as Vera Brittain, Marie Stopes, Richmal Crompton, Margery Allingham, Rebecca West, Radclyffe Hall, Elizabeth Longford, Nina Bawden, Jacqueline Wilson and numerous other well-known authors became members. Our Life President is Baroness Williams of Crosby.

· The first in-depth history of the Society of Women Writers & Journalists.
· Published to commemorate the centenary in 2010 of former President Joyce Grenfell’s birth.
· Explores the lives of some of the Society’s most famous members.
· Illustrated with 100 mono and colour photographs.

Sylvia Kent is a columnist working for Newsquest and a freelance writer. She is Archivist/Press Officer for the SWWJ, Vice-President of Brentwood Writers’ Circle and a Patron of the Essex Book Festival 2009/10. Sylvia has had six books published whilst supporting other writers, particularly in the field of local history, and is a Trustee at the Cater Museum, Billericay, Essex, England.

The Woman Writer
The History of The Society For Women Writers & Journalists
Sylvia Kent
Published on1 November 2009 at £12.99
paperback original ISBN-10 9780752451596

Available from all good bookshops, Amazon and The History Press.
Direct sales – telephone 01235 465577 or
For information about talks or interviews, please contact
Kerry Green at The History Press on 01453 732 512