Category Archives: Team Hot Key

Top Ten Tuesday – Reading Resolutions

Hello and a very happy New Year from all of us at Hot Key!

And yes, it is January, so yes, you are getting the inevitable blog post about New Year’s Resolutions. I’m the type that sets grand, hugely-idealistic resolutions and breaks them all by the 3rd January, but this year the clean slate that January offers is really appealing to me – especially when it comes to my reading habits because they are a MESS. I’ve always thought of myself as a systematic reader – knowing what I want to read, giving equal weight to children and adult fiction, only having one book on the go at a time etc… But over the Christmas break I realised I had been LYING TO MYSELF. Yes, I used to be like that as a reader but in the past year-and-a-half or so I’ve fallen to pieces. I’m useless. Now don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying everyone has to be systematic or organised in their reading habits, but for me loosing that habit has meant that I’ve read LESS books, discovered LESS authors, basically branched out LESS. And I want to change that.

bookcase 1 the main one

 

So here are my 4 New Year’s Reading Resolutions

1. To read more non-fiction. The lovely Sanne gave me a copy of Selena Hasting’s biography of Nancy Mitford for Secret Santa (the.best.Secret.Santa.ever) and I have loved diving back into non-fiction. I’m also a relentless Google-r – when something interests me I’ll automatically go to Google to find out more, but next time something peaks my interest I’m going to buoy a book about it. Hopefully this will also help with resolution no. 2 …

2. To spend more of my free time reading. At the moment I mainly read on my commute, or on train journeys I’m taking for work. It was only over the Christmas break when I sat down with a book for a good three hours that I realised it had been months since I’d done that – though only a few days since I had binge-watched a series on Netflix. And as a result I’m reading much less. So bye-bye internet (especially before bed!) and words on a (paper) page.

3.. To read one book at a time. I was never a multi-books-on-the-go girl but working at a publishing company means a submission might come in that we need to read quickly, or that the final manuscript of a book I’ve been desperately waiting for is finally ready for me to read. This has completely messed up my monogamous book relationship, and I’m done playing the field. (Of course I’ll still read the submissions though!)

4.. To keep track of what I have read. Simple enough really – I’ve never done it and I think it will spur me on to stick to the three above.

And what about the rest of HKB? Well …

5. To read more hardback books. Got one over Xmas and am reading THE NARROW ROAD TO THE DEEP NORTH and they feel so wonderful to hold, and also smell so pleasant. They are worth the extra price – BRENDA

6. For the first ever Christmas in living memory I did not get given a SINGLE book! So I found something on my shelf that had been hidden, half-read-  Daphne du Maurier’s biography, by Margaret Forster. A fascinating biography of a fascinating woman, beautifully and compellingly written. Now I need more biographies. Recommendations, anybody? – EMMA

7. I want to read at least 5 Dutch books that have also been translated into English. I don’t read nearly enough in my native language and I’m also really interested in translation, so this should be an opportunity to learn more about both. – SANNE

8. I’m going to read more physical books – hopefully some of the stack of dust-gathering hardbacks by my bed that’s getting ridiculous – when I’m at home, and save the ebooks for the commute. I’ve just had the realisation that my children don’t ever really see me “read” as a leisure activity – when it’s all on a screen it could be work, it could be browsing the internet, it all looks the same to them when it’s hidden on a screen. So more actual books of my own choosing in my hands, not just bedtime stories! – DEBBIE

9. My reading resolution is to read more and to choose reading over wasting my life away scrolling through Instagram and Twitter. I’m also going to try to keep track of the books I read as I’m so terrible at forgetting! – JEN

10. I’m going to go through the rather large pile of unread books on my shelves that’s getting a little out of hand. I’ve even banned myself from getting new books (yes that’s how serious I am – let’s see how long this last…) till I’ve read at least half of those. I also really want to re-read some of my favourite books and maybe get into e-books and get some use out of my Kindle. – ASMAA

And what about you lot? What are your reading resolutions? Let us know in the comments of on Twitter!

Maggot Moon: your first time…

The many faces of Maggot Moon, including the original manuscript.

The many faces of Maggot Moon, including the original manuscript.

Today is a very special day – we have just found out that Maggot Moon has WON the Carnegie Medal. We are completely delighted for Sally, and proud and a bit overwhelmed really. Did you know Maggot Moon was only the third book we published as Hot Key Books, and one of the first we acquired?

It got us thinking about the first time we all read Maggot Moon – many of us at different times, some of us not working for Hot Key, some of us just being offered jobs – thinking about how we felt, that first time. Could any of us then imagine what impact this book has had? What a journey we have all been on with Maggot Moon. I’ve been collecting some memories from the team here and one thing was clear – we all knew from day one it was something special.

Here’s what we remember, what about you?

Sara O’Connor, Editorial Director, Print & Digital
“When I first read it, I was stunned. It felt rebellious, controversial. I knew that it was the kind of book that would rock the boat — and it has in all the right ways.”

Jet Purdie, Art Director
“Sarah Odedina, asked me to generate ideas for Maggot Moon while I was busy renovating my home. Covered in dust and debris, my girlfriend read it aloud while I demolished a wall. Looking for cool scenes to illustrate for the cover I called out “Stop!” whenever something interesting happened and my girlfriend kindly highlighted a section in the the manuscript. To my girlfriend’s annoyance we stopped lots as there were plenty of cool scenes – any of which could have made a great book cover. We found Maggot Moon sad, scary, funny and inspiring. We loved the way Standish viewed the world through his different colour eyes, misinterpreting stuff because of his dyslexia. We loved the way Standish ‘frick-fracking’ swore without really swearing. We loved the Croca-Colas and the pink Cadillac. We loved that Standish was willing to risk all and attempt to take-on the evil totalitarian bad guys.”

Meg Farr, PR Manager
“I vividly remember finishing Maggot Moon on the train on the way back from a sales conference last spring and being blown away by it – that ending! It was always a clear prize winner for me and thoroughly well deserving of all the praise and accolades it’s getting – it’s a book everyone should read!”

Kate Manning, Sales & Marketing Director
“This is a quote from an email I sent to Sarah Odedina in September 2011 having just read Maggot Moon after being offered the job to start Hot Key in the January: ‘If this is the standard of the first ever Hot Key book, then this is definitely going to be the best job ever’

Cait Davies, Sales & Marketing Executive
“I was sat in my parent’s house, thinking (panicking) about moving to London for a job I still couldn’t believe I’d been offered. Then MAGGOT MOON pinged into my inbox… and I was lost. Completely absorbed by the story, I couldn’t think about anything else. Standish, the Motherland and Hector felt so real right there in my childhood bedroom – MAGGOT MOON had me gripped like only the best books can. And when I finished the last page, I wasn’t so worried anymore.

Olivia Mead, Sales, Marketing & PR Assistant
“I was working as a bookseller when MAGGOT MOON came out. There was already this buzz around it, even before the proof arrived, that became hard to ignore.  And then the proof came in. It sat there looking so subtle and understated, my colleagues and I didn’t know what to expect. My manager George took it home that night, came in the next day and just said: ‘It’s even more than you want it to be’. At the shop we were supposed to take an hour’s lunch break but we always cut them short. When it was my turn to go, George handed me the proof and said, ‘You HAVE to take the full hour’. I came back in and she just had this look on her face, saying ‘I know!’. I think everyone who reads it just knows how original, special and extraordinary MAGGOT MOON is.”

Emma Matthewson, Editor-at-Large
“As I turned the last page of Maggot Moon I felt so sad, yet at the same time so empowered. Two such emotions should be contradictory, but in Maggot Moon they are not – which shows what an extraordinary book it is.”

Sarah Benton, Head of Marketing
“I never read manuscripts on my computer. Well, never until I received Maggot Moon. I had just been offered the job at Hot Key and was at home one weekend before Christmas. I opened the manuscript and thought, I’ll just read a bit, and then put it on my Kindle. I read the whole thing right there and then on my laptop, on the sofa that afternoon and was breathless by the end. I re-read it a few months later while working on the iBook and even second time round I was blown away. Every time Sally reads even a bit of it at an event I want to rush to re-read it, and there are so few books that have that kind of draw.”

Ruth Logan, Rights Director
“I remember exactly where I was in the house, reading the typescript, lying on the floor.  I didn’t know what to expect but right from the beginning the most beautiful and resonant phrases and images were there in front of my eyes: “a breeze in the park of the imagination”; words are “sweets in the mouth of sound”,;“I don’t have a snowflake of an idea” ; “one thing bled to another”.  There were so many that I had to write them down.  And then there was Standish himself  – a hero of or perhaps FOR our time – his absolute sense of what is right. I want to graffiti his name on walls everywhere because he represents such a luminous vision of humanity. STANDISH LIVES (ok!)  Thank you for writing this, Sally.”

Sarah Odedina, Managing Director
“When I first read Maggot Moon I was literally electric with excitement because I knew within the first few sentences that it was extraordinary and I was so excited to keep reading.  I read it as an ordinary reader and was thrilled.  I remain thrilled when I look at it again now.  It is a wonderful original and utterly transfixing book that will be thrilling readers, young and not so young, well in to the future.”

Please do share your “first time” with us below, and congratulations again to Sally for such a fantastic achievement. We are all absolutely over the moon!

Happy and Sad – a job opening at Hot Key & Red Lemon

On Thursday, I was speaking at the Innovation Workshop (great round up here) and our wonderful Digital Coordinator, Amy Orringer, had come to support me. I think she had the tweet of the day:

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After my session, she dropped a bombshell – she was moving back to the US and leaving us! I think I must have looked like a fish for a few minutes, not knowing what to say. I’m really happy for Amy but sad that we’ll be losing such a talented and driven woman from our team.

So I am happy and sad to say that we have an exciting opportunity to bring a new energy and a new voice to our digital team. Could it be you? (I hope it is!)

Here are some of the things your predecessor has done:

– The enhanced ebook for The Quietness by Alison Rattle (highlights video here http://bit.ly/19EFny2)
– A soft toy dance party, among other stop motion delights: (here)
– Commissioned The Bookshop Band to write a song for Dawn O’Porter’s book (here)

In fact, in her own style and because she is awesome, Amy has done us a video job opportunity advert:

We are looking for someone like Amy who:
–          is utterly passionate about children’s books
–          has a positive, willing attitude with a determination to create awesome things, a get-it-done kind of person
–          has an eye for detail and a commitment to precision
–          who can showcase a variety of interesting online projects/profiles
–          not necessarily from a publishing background (the publishing stuff is easy to learn)
–          not necessarily proficient in software/coding, but a good base knowledge and a digital curiosity which means you’re driven to self-learn

Here is the full job description with application instructions: Digital Coordinator Job Desc

You’ll be working 50/50 between the editorial department under myself and the marketing department under Sarah Benton. You can read about publishing from our points of view all over this blog, and get a sense about how we work if you look at the projects we’ve built over the past year and a half.

If you’re interested, please read the job description and application instructions carefully. Eye for detail, and all of that.

Hope to hear from you soon!

DO judge a book by its cover…you may be pleasantly surprised!

LauraLaura (@lauracholawka) is a Philosophy and Theology graduate who originally trained as an Early Years Professional. She has recently made the move to London from Manchester to pursue a career in publishing. She also writes a blog about her adventures in publishing and reading, which you can check out by clicking here.

A little background first, if I may.

I’m Laura, I’m 24 (and as such a little older than your average intern, I fear) and as a result of a whirlwind series of circumstances that make my life sound more like a romantic comedy than I’m entirely happy with, I decided to haul myself half way across the country to begin a new career.

I used to work with children, mostly the under-two’s, which was fantastic, albeit a bit sticky. I’m a self-confessed book nerd, and various other types of nerd as well, and publishing has always been the little dream career that was in the back of my head, pushed aside in the name of practicality.

But about six months ago, I decided that the time had come to find out whether or not I could do it. It has taken lots of research, a ton of hard work and just a little bit of bravery to even get where I am now, but I have found that my week here at Hot Key Books has proved two things:

  1. I have reasonably good instincts; a career in publishing is DEFINITELY right up my street.
  2. No matter what your working environment, everyone loves cake.

I don’t want to bore you by descending into giddy overstatement, but I have LOVED working here. My confidence in my own abilities has risen immeasurably thanks to everybody’s support. Let’s face it, I’ve never studied or trained for this kind of job until the last few months, it is just something I thought I would be good at, and was sure I would enjoy. So far, so good. (Unless, of course I’ve had everyone tearing their hair out and they’re all just too lovely to say anything.)

In preparation for my week here, I obviously had a good nosy around the titles Hot Key have coming out, and one in particular caught my eye. Not the kind of book I normally would have picked up, Paper Aeroplanes’ beautiful cover art drew me in, and Dawn O’Porter’s familiar name piqued my interest.

Paper Aeroplanes

It has been a bit of a resolution of mine to read more outside of my usual fantasy/adventure comfort zone, and Paper Aeroplanes has helped to prove why that is such a good idea. Set on the island of Guernsey in the 1990’s, the book follows two fifteen year old schoolgirls, Renee and Flo, as they forge a friendship of the kind you can only have in your teens. The girls help each other through family dysfunction, broken relationships and the cringe-inducing ravages of puberty, revealing a story that is poignant, insightful and so shockingly true to life that I kind of hope my mum never reads it.

Paper Aeroplanes is a shining example of the power of this variety of YA fiction which allows us, as adults, to look back on a time when we were so convinced that our problems couldn’t get any bigger, and a tampon was the most embarrassing object anyone had ever encountered. The book dragged me straight back to that brick wall in Greater Manchester against which I had my first kiss (no gory details-sorry) and brought forth a comforting wave of nostalgia which will stay with me for a long while.

So, what does the future look like for Laura Cholawka, publisher extraordinaire? Well, first, I need to find a place to live, and then I need to find a job. You’d be forgiven for thinking I should be panicking, but I’m taking it one step at a time. The skills and experience I’ve gained this week, not to mention the fun I’ve had, mean that I am itching to get my CV out there applying for lots of exciting positions, and I’m sure I can find at least one vacant room in London…wish me luck!

So long, fare thee well, pip pip, cheerio, I’ll be back soon (for tea and cake)

All great stories have a beginning. Where we meet our hero and discover the task or problem. The middle is where all the excitement lies, a great cacophony of action and triumph. And then, finally we reach a conclusion, an end, the finish.  Turning the final page, reaching the last line where paper meets board and the dance of black and white fades to silence. Which is a roundabout way of saying, that I am on the end papers of my time at Hot Key Books and Red Lemon. I’m terribly sad to be saying goodbye after a quite incredible 18 months, and really very reluctant to put this particular story down. But. Most great stories don’t end on the final page. They continue in the reader’s head or in conversation, in reading groups, the playground, the bus. Sometimes they have sequels.

Moshi Monsters Sheet

I am excited to be opening up my career: part 2 – where I can’t wait to start work on the Moshi Monsters Magazine. So from a place where stories lie at the heart of everything – to somewhere exactly the same (but a bit more furry).  At this point, if I were on the Xfactor I would get a hastily put together montage of pivotal moments. From when I first walked in the door to when I made Cheryl Cole cry with my first audition to when the public voted me out…  Unfortunately (or perhaps very fortunately) I don’t quite have the technical no-how for this, so I’ve recreated the idea with a very short compilation of my ‘best bits’. (or rather some songs that I love and will find any excuse to shout about….)

The best of all the bits!

The best of all the bits!

Working at a place like Hot Key Books has been a huge learning curve – when I look back at where I started, a youthful twenty three year old with big dreams and a memory like a sieve I can’t quite believe how much I’ve learnt. The intricacies of Biblio for a start. But  meta-data! P&Ls! Pub schedules! Invoicing! The best bit about being an assistant is that you get to really get under the skin of how a business ticks while occasionally getting to do some unbelievably exciting things….

The Story Adventure

Sometimes publishing can seem a bit removed from the real world. You hope and cross everything that the books you send out there will make an impact – but it’s a lot of guess work. And then something like The Story Adventure comes along and you get letters like these from kids who have discovered how wonderful writing can be – I’ll be looking out for their names in Waterstones in 10 years time!

The Young Writers Prize

From very young writers to ones who are a bit bigger – but just as undiscovered. Working on this project was such a joy – from having over 350 entrants, sifting through them all and coming out the other side with two fabulous authors – I can’t wait to see their books flying off shelves later this year. Katie Coyle and Joe Ducie are both names to watch.

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THE RIG 300dpi

The Blog

Being creative is at the heart of what I love about this job. Getting to think outside of the box and put  my (often strange) thoughts down on (virtual) paper. I’ve been really lucky to get some great responses to some of the blog posts I’ve written – and have actually taken one idea and set it free in the pastures of Word Press. So for anyone who enjoyed our Boy Meets Girl meets Books series of blogs, you can now follow our progress on a dedicated blog! Find us at http://boymeetsgirlmeetsbooks.wordpress.com/ where we have May’s choices and April’s reviews.

The People

HKB is the very special company that it is because of the people who make it. I couldn’t even start to say how much I have loved working here without sounding like I was making a long and weepy Oscar’s speech. So I’ll do a J-Law and keep it brief and very cool, by just saying that every single person here has a real passion for stories, an understanding of what makes books great, and a  touch of magic. That’s the only way to explain how such exciting things come out of such a small team…

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The very early days!

The Final Word

It’s really hard to be articulate when you want to say everything. Instead I’ll leave it to Tim Minchin and Matilda…

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Language: Obey the rules!

Recently I wrote a blog post about how language flourishes and – sometimes – becomes beautiful when we adapt the rules we are taught.

On the other hand, there are some language rules that we really, really feel strongly about and that we – not just as editors but as human beings – will always fight the cause of. (Avoiding sentences ending in a preposition is not one of mine, evidently.)

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My pet grammar rule is the correct use of ‘that’ and ‘which’ and it’s one I’m often correcting in text because it is so little understood and therefore frequently misused. The rule to remember is:

‘That’ is never preceded by a comma, but ‘which’ always is*.

And that is because of the subtle difference between the two words, which is beautiful and useful. See:

1/ She picked up the envelope that was on the table.

2/ She picked up the envelope, which was on the table.

The first implies that there are several possible envelopes, but only one was on the table: the information following ‘that’ defines that particular envelope compared to others.

The second gives no information about whether there are other envelopes, but purely offers extra description about the envelope in question: it was on the table. Because it is additional information, it follows a comma. (That is another good rule of thumb for helping to decide when to use a comma.)

I surveyed the Hot Key and Red Lemon staff to find out what really fires them up when they see language rules disregarded. (And added some further comment in italics…)

 

Sara OC, Editorial Director: Exclamation marks MUST be used sparingly. Especially in children’s books; writers do tend to go crazy. Also, dialogue tags should not be illogical:

“I love you,” Jenny smiled.

MUST be:

“I love you.” Jenny smiled.

You cannot ‘smile’ words.

Sarah Odedina, Managing Director: Being the result of a 1970s radical comprehensive education I have little idea what makes for correct, or incorrect use of the English language.  All my ‘editorial’ responses are on what sounds right for the character or the book.   I know you shouldn’t start a new sentence with ‘and’ but sometimes it just sounds right! I suppose I do dislike it when an author uses the same phrases or sayings or terminology over and over again.  It happens.  It is easy to take out and to change.  But I wonder why someone doesn’t notice that they are repeating themselves…

I argued for starting sentences with ‘and’ and ‘but’ here. I think repeating phrases and terms is something all writers fall into at some point, but spotting them is one of the editor’s responsibilities – along with urging changes.

Cait Davies, Sales & Marketing Executive: Their, they’re and there!

Mixing up these spellings is a language crime: they all have different meanings and are not interchangeable.

Georgia Murray, Editor: APOSTROPHES!!!! Particularly when used in a plural. (And also multiple exclamation marks.)

More on this coming up…

Livs Mead, Sales & Marketing Assistant: Your and you’re. And its and it’s. It’s so simple I don’t understand why people can’t remember the difference. (I’m now paranoid my apostrophe usage is wrong).

And yet people do get it wrong, frequently – and possibly out of a paranoid panic about getting it wrong. But don’t panic!

‘its’ = possessive; ‘it’s’ = ‘it is’

‘your’ = possessive; ‘you’re’ = ‘you are’.

When in doubt, keep apostrophes for contractions. I know, it’s confusing because you add apostrophes to make other nouns possessive, but think of ‘its’ and ‘yours’ already holding a sense of possession. They don’t need apostrophes too.

Megan Farr, PR Manager: One pet hate is apostrophes in dates – like 1920’s.

This is like a secret grammar rule that very few people know. Unless you’re talking about something belonging to the 1920s, you don’t need an apostrophe. Remember: if in doubt, keep apostrophes for contractions.

Tori Kosara, Editor, Red Lemon Press: Less/fewer! If I cared a bit less about this common mistake, I would have fewer headaches when editing.

‘Less’ should only be used when talking about unquantifiable amounts (‘less confusion, ‘less anxiety’) and ‘fewer’ when the amount IS quantifiable (‘fewer grammatical errors’, ‘fewer editorial headaches’).

Alexandra Koken, Editor, Red Lemon Press: Excessive use of exclamation marks is a pet peeve, especially in younger fiction and speech. They almost makes me want to mark up ‘Calm down’ in a side note! Plus, too many commas are a bore. 

This is a popular pet peeve!!!!!!! (See: it is quite annoying.)

 

Now, I know that grammar comes more easily to some people than others, but an aversion to grammar rules needn’t hold you back. Last word from our lovely Editorial Assistant Becca, who sadly leaves us today:

Becca Langton, Editorial Assistant: I’m useless at grammar and punctuation and have been told off SO many times for it. I am particularly bad at differentiating between you’re and your. Not great but I blame the dyslexia. BUT! I am really persnickety about of and off. I think it’s because it’s the one rule that I can actually remember!

And that’s why putting together a book requires input from people with so many different expertise: a writer with a brilliant voice and an excellent story to tell can do all the spelling mistakes and grammar crimes they want, because there should always be a diligent copy-editor and proofreader to mop them up and give the text a polish before sending it out into the world.

A key aspect of working closely with fiction is finding the delicate balance between these rules and the writer’s own adapted rules.

* There are exceptions to this rule, but not when used in this context.

** See, here you don’t need a comma before ‘which’. It’s an entirely different context.

 

Whigs, Wigs and Wigging out.

Perched on the edge of a large velvet sofa, trying desperately to hide my bitten nails and nervous shakes, my University interviewer, and Director of Studies to be, thought for a moment and then asked, “What is the point of a museum?”

What? My brain cried, what sort of question is that? I’ll explicate the causes of the 1917 Russian Revolution! Expound on the limitations of the Great Reform Act of 1867 or deliberate on the role of women in the decline of the Liberal Party. But museums? What have museums got to do with history?

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Where dates don’t matter!

After mumbling something about making history accessible to everyone I quickly moved on to firmer ground, weighted in dates, names and facts. Five years down the line and I can barely remember what I had for breakfast, let alone who the Chancellor of the Exchequer was in 1905 (oats and Asquith respectively…) but that question did stick. And, as with all the best historical theories, my thoughts have changed considerably over time.

I used to be someone who worked with history, and now I’m someone who loves stories –and I’ve realised that actually those two aren’t so far apart. Museums, stories, history – it’s all about getting under the skin of someone else. I spent most of my degree standing on the edge of yesterday and asking my brain to put together a kaleidoscope of stories to cobble together something approaching truth. And not much has changed. Michael Gove’s decision to move the curriculum away from the history as experienced by people, understood as a complex web of experience, lies, stories and great moments, towards something that can be drawn neatly along a ruler is at once astoundingly naïve and also, I believe, wrong.

History is as much about the stories as it is about the Bills, laws and coronations. When an archaeologist uncovers a piece of jewellery, a Roman wall or an ancient shoe, historians work in the realms of guesswork and creativity to connect the dots and make ‘history’ bigger. Museums are a great bridge from stories to fact, you have to use a touch of imagination to bring it altogether but underneath the guesswork and possibilities are the scavenged artefacts of truth.

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A servant boy with Bill Spykes the hedgehog

The best museums (in my opinion) are the ones that encourage you to use your imagination to really understand the past. Some people think that history is something abstract and intangible that can be recited from books and learnt from timelines (*coughs* Gove. Ahem.). BUT…not so. I fell in love with the idea of history as a thing in its own right aged 7, sitting in an Andersen shelter listening to the bombs falling over London, and comforted by the kind cockney women telling me to keep my “chin up”. Granted this was in the confines of the Imperial War Museum and I’d only recently emerged from the trenches – but, down there with the benches shaking and the smell of smoke creeping through the walls, that history was as real and as valid, as any textbook or timeline might claim.

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A (ghostly) foundling girl

There are many great museums that really let you get a first-hand taste of history. Recently we went on a Victorian themed tour of Bloomsbury, visiting The Dickens Museum and then The Foundling Museum.

Shortly after breakfast I was a maid making porridge on a huge iron stove. Quickly followed by a stint as a servant boy where I explored the wine cellars, jumped at a rat and realised I’d left the oats on to burn.

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A restorative latte later and I was Thomas Coram, establishing the Foundling Museum, taking in waifs and strays from across London and transforming the face of British society. And then briefly a girl left by desperate parents with only a small ‘token’ as a clue to my true family. Segueing from an anonymous servant girl to a man whose name lives on as one of the great philanthropists of our time, and back to a life of hard graft- I was able to pick up stories, get a taste of history and really learn something (*cough*).

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Thomas Coram – a very splendid coat

So the moral of this story? The imagined past is as good as any story. Museums can be the alchemists touch which turn numbers and names into history gold. Children are excellent at understanding the complexities of a history. Don’t take away the dressing up! Lastly – I look great in a wig.

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Anyone for tea?