One of my neighbours is spending a few months in Norway, and I am looking after the house and the garden in her absence. Last weekend I was surprised to discover a little summerhouse hidden away in the foliage at the bottom of her garden. I knew a building was there, of course, but I'd always thought it was simply a garden shed full of rakes, plant pots and half-used tins of paint. I’m thinking it might make a pleasant, quiet place to do my indexing in the summer months.
For as long as I’ve been making occasional posts to this blog, I’ve been researching and writing my book on the Percy Searle murder case of 1888. It hasn’t been an easy venture by any means, and there have been moments when I thought I might put it to one side indefinitely; but incredibly I finished the book in December last year and it was published in hardback by Mango Books on 25 May. To coincide with the launch, I gave a talk on the case at the Spring Arts and Heritage Centre in Havant on the 24th. There were about 50 people there. At some point I will post a few reflections on the experience of indexing my own book.
Next to the Jack the Ripper murders, the disappearance of Lord Lucan from his London home in 1974 in suspicious circumstances ranks as one of Britain’s most infamous unsolved mysteries. Did he murder the family’s nanny Sandra Rivett? Was he spirited abroad by his wealthy gambling chums? Was his body fed to the lions at John Aspinall’s private zoo in Kent?
Lord Lucan’s widow, Veronica, completed her memoirs just weeks before she died last September, aged 80. A Moment in Time will be published tomorrow in hardback and Kindle format by Mango Books. I was pleased to write the index for it.
The Lucan mystery will persist, I’m sure, but it’s great to have Lady Lucan’s own account of her life and marriage in her own words. It’s a fabulous piece of writing.
Decades ago I used to collect the Notable British Trials series of books published by William Hodge. I never had a complete run, far from it – at most I may have had 25 or 30 titles.
The series has now been revived by Mango Books, who are adding new titles. The first is Trial of Israel Lispki edited by MW Oldridge, and published last month. The second is going to be Trial of Louise Masset edited by Kate Clarke, out in early 2018.
The original series didn’t have indexes, but the new series does, I’m pleased to say.
'The Diary of Jack the Ripper’ was first published a quarter of a century ago. I was living and working in Camberley at the time, and I can vividly recall reading it during my lunch breaks and on a mini walking holiday in the Kentish weald. For twenty-five years the origin of the Diary has been hotly disputed ‒ old hoax, new hoax, or genuine article?
Robert Smith, the owner of the Diary, has just published a fabulous new book on the subject. As well as an assessment of the Diary, it provides new information on its history and provenance, and contains a stylish full-size colour facsimile.
The limited edition of 500 copies has already sold out, I believe. I was pleased to compile the index for it, my own very small contribution to the tumultuous history of the Diary of Jack the Ripper.
.Amanda Harvey Purse is a researcher for the City of London Police Museum. She has written a book about the City of London policemen (and one or two Metropolitan officers) who hunted Jack the Ripper in the late 1880s. It’s called Jack and Old Jewry (Old Jewry being the name of the former City Police headquarters). It’s a hefty book, packed with information, lavishly illustrated, and full of good stories about the policemen (and police cats) who patrolled the streets of London.. At the back there is my 13-page index.
This year the Society of Indexers celebrates its diamond anniversary. Today - 30 March - has been designated the first National Indexing Day to raise awareness of this little-known but essential profession.
The date marks the 60th anniversary of the founding of the Society, which was formally constituted at the premises of the National Book League in London on 30 March 1957 by G. Norman Knight and colleagues. Knight counted it as ‘one of the achievements of the Society to have removed the intense feeling of solitude in which the indexer (of books and journals, at any rate) used to work'.
The Society of Indexers, now based in Sheffield, is the only autonomous professional body for indexers in the United Kingdom and Ireland and is associated with other indexing organisations around the world. Its aims are to promote indexing, the quality of indexes and the profession of indexing. Membership includes around 400 specialist indexers across the UK, working for authors and publishers in more than a hundred different subjects, from accountancy to zoology.
Here’s the cover of Sarah Beth Hopton’s Woman At The Devil’s Door, which arrived in the post yesterday morning. It’s the first full-length study of the Victorian murderess Mary Eleanor Pearcey (1866‒1890), who was executed at Newgate Prison. I compiled the 11-page index.
Harold Schechter describes it as a ‘forensic thriller’, and I would go along with that. I believe the signed limited edition has already sold out, which doesn't surprise me in the least.
David A. Green is a freelance indexer living in Petersfield, Hampshire.
The Indexed Word
Random thoughts about books, indexes, and book indexing.