Showing posts from July, 2013

It's those 17 rabbits again!

Back in January, I wrote about the Renaissance belief in spontaneous generation and "giving birth to hairy worms'.  The worms, incidentally, will be making a welcome return at Swanwick Writers' Summer School in August, in my workshop on "Prince Lindworm."  But you may also remember Mary Taft, who gave birth to 17 rabbits in 1726.  Recently, I read a wonderful article by Terri Windling on the symbolism of rabbits and hares [ read it here ] that brought me back to those rabbits once again. Terri mentioned a couple of things in this long and fascinating article that leapt straight out at me.  (Like a bounding hare, dare I say?)  On the first page of the blog, she says: In Egyptian myth, hares were also closely associated with the cycles of the moon, which was viewed as masculine when waxing and feminine when waning. Hares were likewise believed to be androgynous, shifting back and forth between the genders—not only in ancient Egypt but also in European

Flautist of the Woods - Getting in tune with nature

In my current novel-in-progress, Cage of Nightingales (which is now in the editing stage - whoo!) Tammo  wants to be a bird charmer and to play his flute in the woods.  It's impossible to know what that would really be like without trying it for yourself.  The other week, I decided to record a simple flute tune I wrote as "Tammo's Song".  I was going to record it in the Early Music Shop, among the harpsichords and baroque recorders.  But after making a practice recording in the park under the trees, I decided that nothing was going to top that.  There's nothing quite the same as playing your flute in the open air, with the sound of birdsong and running water in your ears.  The music and the natural sounds around you somehow become connected. Anyway, after trying that, I got the bug for playing my flute outdoors.  Actually, I have two flutes - a modern orchestral one, and the one I used for "Tammo's Song", which is a bamboo flute from Cameroon.

Captain Keeldar and Gentleman Jack

I've just finished reading Shirley by Charlotte Bronte.  Actually, I've read it a couple of times before, but barely remembered it (apart from the curates and the Luddites).  The main reason I read it this time was to try and decide if there was any connection between the title character, Shirley Keeldar, and Anne Lister of Shibden Hall.  I thought it was possible.  West Yorkshire (the West Riding in Anne Lister and the Brontes' day) isn't that big, and the lifetimes of the two women overlapped.  As Anne Lister was a landowner, she would have been a well-known character to people living in the West Riding in the early 19th century.  Did Charlotte Bronte know her, and did she have any influence on the creation of Shirley?  The question interests me because Shibden Hall has been a favourite place for me since early childhood.  The Bronte sisters are also local characters (born in the village just across the fields from mine), and I feel I have a lot in common with them