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About Me

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I am a writer, editor, reviewer and dance teacher based in Perth, Western Australia. You might enjoy my books - The Dagger of Dresnia, the first book of the Talismans Trilogy, is available at all good online book shops. Book two, The Cloak of Challiver, will be available again shortly. Book three, The Seer of Syland, is in preparation. I trained in piano and singing at the NSW Conservatorium of Music. I also trained in dance (Scully-Borovansky, WAAPA) and drama (NIDA). Since 1987 I have been writing reviews of performances in all genres for a variety of publications, including Music Maker, ArtsWest, Dance Australia, The Australian and others. Now semi-retired, I still write occasionally for the ArtsHub website, and I still teach dance at Trinity School for Seniors, an outreach program of the Uniting Church in Perth.

My books

The first novel of my trilogy, The Talismans, is available as an e-book from Smashwords, Amazon and other online sellers. I do have paperbacks of The Dagger of Dresnia at the low price of $AU25 including postage within Australia. I also have a short story, 'La Belle Dame', in print - see Mythic Resonance below. Book two of the trilogy, The Cloak of Challiver, will be available again shortly. The best way to contact me is via Facebook!

Buy The Talismans

The first two books of The Talismans trilogy were published by Satalyte Publications, which, sadly, has gone out of business. Book one, The Dagger of Dresnia, is up on the usual bookselling web sites as an e-book, and I have a few hard copies to sell to those who prefer Real Paper. Book Two, The Cloak of Challiver, will be available soon. The easiest way to contact me is via Facebook.

The Dagger of Dresnia

The Dagger of Dresnia
Want a copy? Contact me at satimafn(at)gmail.com

The Cloak of Challiver

The Cloak of Challiver
Available again as an ebook soon!

Mythic Resonance

Buy Mythic Resonance

Mythic Resonance is an excellent anthology that includes my short story 'La Belle Dame', together with great stories from Alan Baxter, Donna Maree Hanson, Sue Burstynski, Nike Sulway and nine more fantastic authors! Just $US3.99 from Amazon. Got a Kindle? Check out Mythic Resonance.

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Places I've lived: Manchester, UK

Places I've lived: Manchester, UK

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Places I've lived: Tamworth, NSW

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Places I've lived: Auckland, NZ

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Places I've Lived: Mount Gambier
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Places I've lived: Adelaide, SA

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Places I've lived: High View, WV

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Places I've lived: Lynton, Devon, UK

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Places I've lived: Braemar, Scotland

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Places I've lived: Barre, MA, USA

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Places I've Lived: Perth by Night
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Tuesday, 15 May 2007

A visit to Sedgley

Another long silence, mainly due to lack of internet access. I can have a free half-hour at Topsham library each day but today that was wasted by a system failure. I'd paid for an extra hour and half and it's nearly all used up with e-mails, so I hope I can get this post up before the machine boots me off!

I spent three days last week in the town of Sedgley, Staffordshire. Like Dewsbury in Yorkshire, this is one of my ancestral home towns - my father's family lived there for generation after generation until they moved to Yorkshire in the late C19. For the most part, they were coal miners and nail makers, and as the region is known as part of what's called the Black Country, I was expecting a desolate old industrial town that had lost its way, like so many others in the Midlands since the death of the mining industry.

Not so. I found a delightful collection of villages, separated by rolling green fields and woodland, interlaced with lovely parks and quiet lanes. Rhododendrons and peonies are in full bloom, and even the roses are putting on a beautiful show - all at least three weeks early! Well, I came intending to enjoy an English spring and I've certainly had that, albeit a highly compressed one because of the early warm weather. Now the trees are wearing summer green and it's nearly time for me to go. I return to Perth next Monday, but I hope to have at least one or two more adventures in the interim!

I met several e-cousins in Sedgley - Jean and Keith, together with Christine and her husband Stephen, made me feel very welcome. Christine should have a medal for her help - she spent a whole day with me at the local archives, where we uncovered a few more details about my KEELING, HODGETTS, PERSHOUSE and DUDLEY ancestors. Christine and I have a lot in common - like me, she is an editor and a Shakespeare enthusiast and she has managed to combine these skills because she actually edits editions of the plays! One she was involved in recently is the OUP's new Othello under the leadership of Michael Neill - a handsome book and all the better, I'm sure, for having Christine on the editorial team.


On Friday Christine and Stephen took me to Dudley Castle, residence of a long line of my DUDLEY ancestors but now a zoo. (Sic transit!) The building was largely destroyed in the Civil War, but it is still possible to see the layout and to go into the undercroft, which boasts an excellent historical and archeological display. The zoo is home to several endangered species and is doing its bit for conservation. Like all such establishments, it is short on funding. I wish I had pots of money to donate.


Having walked the stones where my DUDLEY ancestors walked, I brought myself back down to earth with a decent feed of fish and chips in the castle's restaurant, where I met another DUDLEY descendant; Lucy from the States. Christine took a photo of us together and commented on our resemblance. No doubt Lucy and I are cousins twenty times over, as are many folk of British descent, especially those from the Black Country, it seems:-)

Having fortified ourselves with fish'n'chips, Christine, Stephen and I headed for the nearby Black Country Museum, a wonderfuly recreated village set on 25 acres, complete with shops, houses, a school house, a church and workshops of various industries including a working glassmakers' where souvenirs can be purchased. The main industries of the area - coal mining, iron smelting, brickmaking and the metal trades - were also represented.

Many cottages in the Black Country had small workshops attached for the manufacture of nails and chains. I tried to envisage my great-great-grandmothers and their older children forging nails on the sturdy little anvils while the younger children, even toddlers, worked the bellows. The menfolk, of course, would have spent long hours "down the pit", hewing coal. These people were poor - sometimes desperately so - but they had a toughness and resilience that enabled them to maintain an optimistic outlook despite the back-breaking labour and poor conditions that left them open to outbreaks of cholera and other deadly diseases. Even so, many survived to a great age: my four great-great grandparents on my father's side lived to an average age of 83.

How, you might ask, did I come to have some ancestors at the castle and some in tiny cottages? Well, that's life, eh? A few generations can make a huge difference to the fortunes of a bloodline, going from high to low due to illegitimate births, girls "marrying down" and the inability of most families to provide an inheritance for any children other than the eldest son. The reverse journey, from low to high, is much less easily achieved, fairy tales and fantasy novels not withstanding:-) I love my miners and nailers no less than my lords and ladies, and I wish I could visit the little cottages and workshops of the former. The closest I can get is to visit places like the Black Country Museum as well as the churches where they married, had their children baptised, and were buried.


In All Saints Church, Sedgley, Christine showed me the pew paid for by my 10xgreat-grandfather, Richard PERSHOUSE. He preferred the variant PARKSHOUSE, so the carved letters over which I ran my fingers read Ricardus Parkhousus, 1626. I'm sure Richard and his wife Jane would also have run their fingers over the letters with great pride when they first inspected this symbol of their status in the Sedgely community. Richard had done well for himself - the scion of an old yeoman family, he had risen to become attorney and estate manager for Edward, the fifth SUTTON lord Dudley, and had married Jane DUDLEY, milord's illegitimate daughter. Edward and Richard, it seems from some accounts, sometimes exhibited behaviour that was far from gentlemanly, dispossessing tenants with threats and violence. But might not my poor miners and nailers, or even I myself, have done the same, given the power? Who knows? That Edward loved his mistress, my 11x great-grandmother Elizabeth TOMLINSON, there can be little doubt, and there is no reason to believe that Richard was anything other than a kind husband and father. What a strange mixture we humans are, with our kindness and cruelty, generosity and selfishness. Lords or miners, we are all capable of the lot, aren't we?


Saturday brought a long walk up to Sedgley Beacon, a vantage point more than 700 feet above sea level and the highest point for miles around, affording magnificent views of three counties - Staffordshire, Worcestershire and Shropshire. The Black Country is no longer black, and the view of the Welsh border must be much as it was in medieval times when some of my ancestors made their way from Wales into the Midlands. The walks Christine and I took around Sedgley enabled me to appreciate the local styles of architecture, which are much more varied than those of other places I've seen in the UK. True, the ubiquitous red brick still dominates the streetscapes, but there are far fewer dreary rows of terraces and semi-detached houses. Instead, there is a charming mix of single and double storied designs and individual facades. The Black Country bred tough, individualistic folk and this is reflected in their architecture.

I am deeply grateful to Stephen and Christine for giving up hours of their time to show me around this very special part of the world. Now I'm getting ready for London, Cambridge, Canterbury - and home!

I'm about to get booted off the computer - no time to check for typos!

4 comments:

Imagine me said...

Looking forward to seeing you, Satima.

Anonymous said...

Hallo Satima,
I called your sister Claire this morning, only to learn that you had already left for London and Cambridge. I wanted to wish you a safe and comfortable return trip home to Australia. With your head full of lots and lots of Souvenirs, hopefully all only pleasant ones. It is good you will neither have to pay overweight-charges for them nor custom-clearance.
Love Elfriede

Anonymous said...

Hi Satima

I to have keeling ancestors from Sedgley. My great grandfather was Harry Keeling born in sedgley 1892.

Caroline- west midlands

Satima Flavell said...

Hi Caroline! we must be connected somehow but you'll need to get back a couple more centuries before we can find out. My closest KEELING ancestor was Hannah, daughter of Richard and Mary, who was baptised in 1708.

If you're not already on the Sedgley mailing list you might consider joining - like all the Rootsweb lists, it's free, and great help to researchers. To sign up, send an email to Eng-STS-Sedgley-request(at)rootsweb(dot) com with the word "subscribe" (without the quotes) in both the subject line and the body of the message.

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