My collection of research books for the new series I am writing is expanding. The Clearwater Mysteries series is set in Victorian times (1888) and set in a city which is clearly London, but because I need to take liberties with history, I have made it an ‘imaginary London of 1888’. When I say liberties, I mean, for example, in book one of the series, the Ripper is killing men, not women, and so I am mixing fact with fiction.
In my stories (The Clearwater Mysteries), as in truth, the identity of the Ripper is never known, except in my series, we do know who he is, and we see what he went on to do after those crimes ended. We also find out why. In other places, I have stayed close to the facts but not quite, using some real locations, basing characters and their names on people of the time or near the time. Example, in book four, ‘Fallen Splendour’ (still in editing and not yet published), I have a barrister called Sir Easterby Creswell. I took his name from a real judge in the 19th century called Sir Creswell Creswell (whose family name was Easterby), and so on.
Over the weekend, I received two more books to add to the collection of things to be read when I take time off from writing. So far, I have collected several actual books, which I prefer, and a few Kindles. I find Kindle good for when I want some information now and don’t want to have to wait two weeks for an online order to arrive. If the book is something I will keep and use again, I’ll then order a paper or hardback copy.
Off the top of my head (I am in the study at 4.30 a.m., and the books are scattered around the house, and I don’t want to make noise by searching for them), I have gathered books about the stately homes of England, Victorian buildings, the Cleveland Street scandal of 1889, life in Victorian London, Jack the Ripper (I already have several), a collection of writings by ordinary people of the time, first-hand accounts of daily life etc., a book on the railways, the history of the Ukraine, ‘The Sins of Jack Saul’ and Saul’s allegedly penned, er, ‘novel’ about the life of a male street worker in those days, a dictionary of Victorian slang, a Bradshaw’s guide (1886, reprint), and several railways maps from the time. There are others, but I expect you’re getting bored by now. What I am looking for next is a good Atlas of the country from around that time, something as detailed as the large, green-cover Readers’ Digest atlas we used to have when younger.
[Here’s the link to the first three books of the series, The Clearwater Mysteries]