“. . the Destiny of my life was cast on seeing for the first time an ‘Apollo’ in the handsome Captain Cowin of the 73rd Regiment. Even at this long period I blush to make this romantic confession, nevertheless the age of 12 may offer an excuse. ”
I was reading the memoir of Lady Dowling*, a very distant forebear of my husband. I was already intrigued, but this was the passage that captured me. Three years later, I have finished putting together a short biography of this flighty, restless woman (for details, see under Publications on this site). What I’ve learned in the process includes:
- Never believe a memoirist (they leave out all the interesting parts),
- Never trust a man who keeps a journal (they put in all the interesting parts), and
- Never think your research won’t be contradicted by your next search of Trove.
I’ve also learned that I’m not alone in grappling with a million writing dilemmas. With this knowledge, I’m continuing to explore the border zones of creativity in the portrayal of historical people and events.
*Dowling, H. “Memoir of the Early Life of Harriott Mary Dowling Nee Blaxland: Or Sketches of India and Australia in Old Times.” In Dowling family papers 1767-1905: Manuscripts, Oral History & Pictures, State Library of New South Wales, Catalogue DLMSQ 305, Item 5, 1875.