Writing and researching

My story about a family in search of their roots is the first novel I have written which has needed proper research; in the past I have checked facts, and looked things up, and researched on a small-scale little things for my stories, but this story is different. In the past I have been able to create things, places, occupations, situations, from my imagination, but now I’m having to work differently.

The family in my story originates in Essex, and before that they came via Gdansk from Poland in the 1830’s; I can’t just imagine all of that, I need to properly investigate places, distances, routes. On of the brothers sets of for Australia in the 1840’s; I need to look at shipping, passenger manifests, details of vessels which sailed in those days. The family has different employment at different times, from being the all-purpose, all-weather agricultural labourer, or ag. lab. as the census enumerators record it, to working in a brick works, or as an umbrella maker, or running a pub in the 1860’s and 70’s. The family move from place to place, how do they travel from Essex to London and from London to Surrey and thence to Portsmouth? What sort of names were children given in the different ages, 1840’s, 50’s, 60’s etc? What was the average age that people died? What was it like in a workhouse?  I can imagine so much, but so much more needs to be properly investigated and then used to enhance what I’m writing. Interesting… it’s very interesting!

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