Thursday, October 05, 2006

Research for a Biography

This weekend I head for southwest England to the county of Somerset to do more research on my biography subject, the painter Elisabeth Chant.

"Miss Chant" is how I always think of her; that's what she was always called in my hometown, where she spent the last 25 years of her life.

She was born in a crossroads English village called Holwell, outside the town of Yeovil. I'm spending next week there, looking for descendants and for every physical site and old record or newspaper clip that has to do with her family. I do know that the house her father was born in is still a residence. You can bet I'm going to be knocking on that door.

Though I started life as a newspaper reporter, I'm still fairly new to this kind of research. A few days ago it was terribly daunting. Now it's extremely exciting. I do find, though, that I'm pretty dependent on "the kindness of strangers."

Good-hearted and experienced archivists and genealogists are e-mailing me now with leads and bits of info. Everything that comes in is a fresh treaure.

And soon I will be on the ground in her old town. That's her in the picture, by the way. She died two years before I was born. I'm hoping her spirit is traveling with me on this venture.


billie said...

Thinking of you en route this morning... travel well and have bountiful good luck with the research!

Peggy Payne said...

Thank you. I'm at an INTERNET cafe in Glastonbury with minutes before catching a bus.

So far, very good luck with the research. lOTS OF ADVENTUrES. Can't type right on this keyboard. More later.

billie said...

Can't wait to hear about it!