An Office to the Dead


I’ve been working hard lately on my new book, Magic for the Living, and spending most of my time in the room at home where I write. It was good to spend a day with a friend today, going to the Guildhall Art Gallery, via this half-hidden garden that we […]

The Painted Bridge Video


We decided to make a trailer of around 90 seconds in length for The Painted Bridge. My husband and my older son are photographers and film-makers so we did it in-house.   First, we chose an actress. Sarine Sofair, with her pale skin and clear eyes, her long naturally-red hair, […]

Nightmare by William Kurelek

Colin Gale of the Bethlem Royal Hospital Archives & Museum gave a tour through the history of the ancient hospital in the form of five items from the archive. Previous posts are on the statues of mania and melancholia, the first medical note book, James Tilly Matthews’ vision of a […]

Winter Garden

Statue by frozen pond

One of the pleasures of writing The Painted Bridge was the excuse it provided to explore old houses and gardens. The novel is set mainly in Lake House, a crumbling mansion on the edge of London. In November 1859, when the story begins, Lake House has been in use for two […]

David Waller – THE PERFECT MAN

The Perfect Man

Hi David and thanks for agreeing to be interviewed on the subject of The Perfect Man, The Muscular Life and Times of Eugen Sandow, Victorian Strongman. I’d like to start with the very arresting cover. It shows Eugen Sandow striking a characteristically muscular pose, dressed in a pair of rather […]

The Peerless Pool

St Luke's Asylum

Another great walk with Old Map Man Ken Titmuss. Ken’s walks are an exploration of what is, what was and what remains, a form of divining, or urban archaeology. This one was centred on St Luke’s parish, in what is now the London borough of Islington. The asylum below was […]

Captured on Camera

Emma Riches, patient at Bethlem Hospital

The Bethlem Royal Hospital Archive contains a unique collection of original prints of photographs of patients, taken by photographer Henry Hering. These are some of the earliest photographs ever taken of asylum patients, says archivist Colin Gale, and in some cases can be matched with the patient’s case notes. This […]

Norway Spruce


The tree has always been one of my favourite parts of Christmas. I enjoy the ritual of choosing one, bringing it home, decorating it with the dear and somewhat shabby tokens that have accompanied us through the years. It never fails to surprise me, the way that bringing a tree […]

Glove Woman and Schoolmaster Jack

by kind permission of the Bethlem Art and History Collections Trust

Archivist Colin Gale showed five items from the remarkable Bethlem Royal Hospital collection to provide a snapshot of the history of mental illness in England. The first two, blogged about earlier, are the statues of Mania and Melancholia, and Dr Monro’s 18th century medical notebook. Colin Gale chose this third piece because […]