My Anglo/German ancestors led ordinary lives in extraordinary times.
When writing about their history, I embellish the hard facts from the archive. I imagine how they lived. Family stories, cards, letters and memoirs, inform my imagination. This, mixed with a very large dose of social history, makes up my writing resource.
Why have I written about my family, in historical fiction format? I hear you ask.
Well, to be honest, my research left family members, unimpressed. My accumulated pile of documents and certificates left them cold. They just could not see the exciting story he records revealed to me.
So I decided that the facts presented in a story might grab their attention. To my delight, my family now love the story of their ancestors. And to my surprise and joy, so have hundreds of readers from around the world.
Many readers have asked me, why I mention the weather in my stories?
Well, I guess, being English, I have a predisposition to be fascinated by what the weather is doing.
As I start to write, I will check the archive record. I work on; date, location, names and action taking place, (birth, death, marriage etc.).
Armed with the date, I can set the scene, but researching the UK’s historical weather record.
For instance, I knew it was April 1911, when my Grandfather, went to the German Embassy in London. He had an appointment about his conscription. So I searched Google: Historical London weather April 1911.
This led me to: http://www.london-weather.eu/article.51.html
Scrolling down to April I discovered:
The month began wet, with over 25mm of rain falling on the 2nd. Cold northerly winds then set in for a while bringing wintry showers or spells of snow. After a minimum temperature near minus 3°C on the night of the 4th/5th, the high on the 5th was only 1.4°C. The weather became milder and mostly settled during the second week, and on the 15th the temperature rose above 17°C. The end of the month was unsettled with temperatures generally close to average.
Assuming Grandfather’s visit was at the beginning of April, the storyline went as follows:
From Mizpah Cousins: Life, love and perilous predicaments during the Great War era
Emil is worried. He is on his way to the German consulate in London, having received an official letter requesting an interview. He guesses it is about his military service. As he gets off the Tube at Russell Square, he braces himself for a long climb, as there are many steps from the station, deep in the bowels of London, to the wet, blustery April day, in the square above. After a couple of minutes walking, deep in thought, he arrives at the embassy. Wet and dripping, he shows the letter he has received to the receptionist; he is then ushered into a waiting area. Removing his soggy coat and hat, he sits in a vacant chair, briefly glancing at the others also waiting. It seems an age before his name is called.
It takes rather more digging to find historical records of non-British weather. But often the records hold insights, for instance, Paris flooding in 1910. So scenes in Germany and France are more generic on the weather front.
When you read, do you find knowing about the weather helps set the scene?
If you do, I wonder if you are of British decent. 😊