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I am a writer, editor, reviewer and dance teacher based in Perth, Western Australia.

My books

The first two novels of my trilogy, The Talismans, are not available as e-books at present, but I expect to get them back online shortly. However, I do have paperbacks of The Dagger of Dresnia at the low price of $25 including postage within Australia. I also have a short story, 'La Belle Dame', in print - see Mythic Resonance below. 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. I hope to see my books back on Amazon under a new publisher in the near future.

The Dagger of Dresnia

The Cloak of Challiver

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: Gippsland, Australia

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Places I've lived: Geelong,  Australia

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Places I've lived: Tamworth, NSW

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Places I've Lived - Sydney
Sydney Conservatorium - my old school

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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: Perth by Day
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Places I've lived: High View, WV

Places I've lived: Lynton, Devon, UK

Places I've lived: Lynton, Devon, UK

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Places I've lived: Braemar, Scotland

Places I've lived: Barre, MA, USA

Places I've lived: Barre, MA, USA

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Places I've Lived: Perth by Night
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Sunday, 27 September 2009

Family stories

I suppose all families have their little stories that get handed down from one generation to the next, often growing in the telling - or sometimes shrinking by the convenient omission of embarrassing bits, like the one told by a man who said his great-great-grandfather was sent to Australia as a convict because he stole a length of rope. When a family member researched the family history she found that the said great-great-grandfather had conveniently forgotten to tell his descendants about the thoroughbred horse that was tied to the other end!

My family doesn't seem to have any stories that were handed down from many generations back, but we do have oft-repeated tales from the last two or three, and I've often thought that these should be written down for the entertainment of my own descendants. What's more, some of them might trigger ideas for stories, if not for me, for my friends and relations. Since many of my readers are also writers, I guess this blog is a good place to start recounting.

One story, which I think could be the basis for a super adventure-romance with more than a dash of comedy, concerns a guy named Alf Hyde, a cousin many-times-removed of my father. Alf married a local girl but he was a restless soul and after a few years he began to talk about emigrating to America. His wife, however, refused to leave her family and friends and eventually Alf went without her.

Years passed, and the wife became quite a local identity, even having a place on the local council - very unusual for the early C20. She ran a little corner shop and did very well for herself.

Meantime, Alf, in America, married again. No divorce from his first wife, mind you - Alf was apparently not one for formalities. He and his new wife had three children, or so the story goes, but after twenty years or so his wife died and Alf had a hankering to return to England. So back he came, and was pleasantly surprised to see his old wife was doing so well. He persuaded her to take him back and he lived the rest of his life helping to run the shop, taking occasional trips to the States to visit the children whenever he became restless. Of course, Alf's descendants may have a different version of the tale, and if any of them read this I hope they will share their version with me.

Family tales often involve bigamous marriages. Another distant rellie, or so I've heard, married a girl who turned out to be a kleptomaniac, addicted to shoplifting. This man, too, left his wife and went to America. He never returned, but rumour had it that he'd married again - also bigamously.

Another marriage tale of ours does not involve bigamy, but what would in those days have been considered an incestuous marriage - and still would in many parts of the world, although no longer here in Australia. My great-grandfather James Gaunt married a girl named Jane Suffill (1840-1874) who died at the age of only 34 from tuberculosis, (that's Jane in the photo, probably taken not long before she died) leaving him with three young children, one of whom was to become my grandfather. Within three months James had married again - to his sister's daughter! Her name was Eliza Partington and she bore James six more children. My mother remembered her - James died before my mother was born, but Eliza, who was much younger, lived to a ripe old age. Mother said that she followed the old Victorian custom of wearing an apron in the mornings to do the housework and taking it off at lunchtime, when she would add a little frill of lace to her hair to show that she was now available for socialising, which of course was generally tea and sandwiches with the neighbours. Sadly, no photos of Eliza have been passed down to us.

One really funny thing about this tale is that Mother had the facts right but the second wife's name wrong. She told me it was Hannah Woodstock. I spent years looking for this woman, and it was only when I thought to look up the 1881 census for her children's names that I discovered her real identity, for she and two of the children were staying with her family of origin on census night. How mother converted Eliza Partington into Hannah Woodstock I can't imagine, but it's a lesson in not taking family stories too seriously until you've researched the facts for yourself!

Do you have any strange or amusing stories from your family archives? I'd love to hear them if so!

6 comments:

Marilyn Z. Tomlins said...

I love the name Alf Hyde. May I have it for future use? You know like Alf Hyde, grocer in London's east end ...

Satima Flavell said...

Sure, why not? Although my Alf was from Staffordshire, it's not an uncommon name anywhere in England, AFAIK.

Jo said...

You are so right about recording family stories Satima. My father used to tell lots of them which I don't really remember clearly any more and was inattentive enough not to record at the time.

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