I am a life writer, or biographer – to use the old fashioned word – who specialises in the lives of people involved in early music.
For the last eighteen months I have been working with the guitarist, Julian Bream, to write an account of his life and music. Unfortunately that project came to an end when Julian decided that he didn’t want to continue. Now I need a new project, but a little time to clear my head first!
I published a full length biography of the lutenist and musicologist Diana Poulton (1903-1995) in August 2014, which was published by Smokehouse Press. Diana left very little information about her private life, though her contacts, friendships and experiences make fascinating reading and I wish I could have found some private diaries and letters. The archive of her papers at the Royal Academy of Music is invaluable if unorderly! But it is the memories and stories which were told to me by members of her family and her friends and students which created a picture of her life and personality which few knew in its entirety.
My article The Literary After Life of Arnold Dolmetsch was published in an edited form by The Consort in 2011. It traced the record which Arnold Dolmetsch, who might be regarded as the founder of the ‘modern’ early music movement has left in literature. He is clearly mentioned by James Joyce in The Dubliners and in Ulysses; he is the model for Evelyn’s father in George Moore’s novel Evelyn; Ezra Pound’s Cantos, the poetry of Walter de la Mare and others all contain references to Dolmetsch. You can read the full version on my blog.
The obituary I wrote for Ian Harwood, the lute-maker, player and musicologist who co-founded the Lute Society was published in the Guardian. Other versions appeared in ‘Lute News’ and the ‘Galpin Society Journal’.
As the partner of a lute maker, I have obviosly been attracted to that instrument, but the more widely I research, the more widely I realise that I should cast my net. After Diana Poulton, who knows where I shall turn my attention.