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Dear Reader

Dear Reader #117

Dear Reader,

My latest translations, The Olive Tree: Leaves, Sins of the Father, Smoke and Mirrors, and Mind Games, all in Portuguese.

Just discovered that my 7 x great grandfather Thomas Hopkin lived to be 96 (1730 – 1826). He lived in Hutchens Point, Nottage, Glamorgan. On 29 May 1762 he married Catherine Rees from St Athan.

In the 1980s, Douglas Adams wrote a book, The Meaning of Liff, in which he applied humorous definitions to place names. He included Nottage: items you store in your shed for years, decide to throw out, only to realise that you need them a week later.

From 1918, ’Marriage Advice to Young Ladies’ from a ‘Suffragette Wife’.

Original pamphlet: Pontypridd Museum, Wales.

In this month’s issue of Mom’s Favorite Reads…

An exclusive interview with author, playwright and journalist Tim Walker featuring his meetings with a range of movie stars

Short Stories

Poetry

New Releases 

Travel

Activities 

Author Resources 

And so much more!

Around twelve years ago this was the first branch of my family tree that I explored in detail.

My 3 x great grandfather Thomas Jones was born to Thomas Jones, a coal miner, and Mary Morgan on 16 July 1843 in Laleston, Glamorgan. Thomas and Mary were not married at the time. This is a common discovery I have made for many of my Victorian ancestors and I will elaborate further in a future post.

Thomas’ wife and my 3 x great grandmother Hannah Morgan (the names Hannah, Morgan and Jones reoccur a lot in my family; indeed, four of the first sixteen branches start with a Jones) was born on 30 July 1848 to Richard Morgan, an ostler, and Margaret Jones in Tythegston, a small village near Laleston. You can read Richard and Margaret’s story here https://hannah-howe.com/ancestry/ancestry-13/

In 1851 Thomas was living with his parents in Laleston along with his three year old sister Ann and his grandmother, Jennet Morgan. Jennet was a widow at this time. Meanwhile, Hannah was living in Tythegston with her patents, four siblings, three lodgers and her grandmother, Mary.

Bridgend, 18 June 1850, a picture commemorating the opening of the railway station.

Ten years later Thomas was employed as a servant at Broadland House, Laleston. The owner of Broadland House, at the time, was Charles Drummond, a Londoner, an ‘esquire’, who later moved to Somerset. Drummond died in Somerset in 1888 leaving £2,500 11 shillings in his will.

Broadland House was set in 70 acres of land and the farm employed five servants, including Thomas, who worked as a ‘cow boy’. Mention of cow boys conjures up images of the Wild West. However, Thomas’ work was more prosaic, milking and feeding the animals. Twelve years old, Hannah was still at school and it’s likely that the couple had yet to meet.

That changed a few years later and on 22 February 1868 Thomas and Hannah found themselves walking down the aisle in Ruhama Baptist Chapel, Bridgend. There is a large church in Laleston so presumably Hannah chose the venue.

A child soon followed, my direct ancestor, Thomas. At the time of Thomas’ birth the landscape around Laleston was changing dramatically with the arrival of the railways and the development of coal mines. Thomas left the land to work in a coal mine and this ushered in a period of transience for the family as they moved from village to village seeking employment.

In 1881 the family found themselves in Llandyfodwg near Bridgend. Now with five children, Thomas and Hannah lived in Cardigan Terrace. The street name is revealing and indicates that it was established when a number of families settled in Llandyfodwg to work on the land and in the local coal mines. These families originated from west Wales. They were joined by families from the West Country of England. 

The west Walians and the locals spoke Welsh while the people from the West Country spoke English. Over time, a period of twenty years, many Welsh speakers became bilingual. However, few of the English people learned Welsh.

No pictures of Thomas Jones or Hannah Morgan exist, but this is their son, Richard Morgan Jones.

Each change of address for Thomas and Hannah represented a move of only a few miles. The baptismal records of their children allow us to chart their movements: Laleston, Newcastle, Llangeinor and Llandyfodwg, all within a five mile radius of Bridgend. 

Within this transience records were lost and Hannah disappeared from history. A death record dated 1881 pointed to Hannah. However, when examined in detail it revealed a different Hannah Jones (her married name, of course). My Hannah’s death was not recorded, or more likely it was lost.

Hannah definitely died before 1891 because at that time Thomas was a widow. He’d moved to Llantrisant, the home town of Hannah’s grandparents. Maybe he moved there to be closer to his extended family.

In 1891 Thomas was still working in the coal mines. His working life  represented stark contrasts: the early years spent in the open air, the latter years spent working in the dark. Both occupations offer a certain romanticism: the pastoral beauty of the countryside, the camaraderie of men working in life-threatening conditions, their existence reliant upon each other.

In 1891 Thomas and his three children, Thomas, Richard and Margaret, lived in Dinas, Llantrisant. Like their father, Thomas Jr and Richard were coal miners while fifteen year old Margaret was their housekeeper. Margaret’s childhood effectively came to an end when her mother died as she assumed the role of ‘woman of the house.’

Thomas’ street contained thirty people. All the men were coal miners. Twenty-three of those people spoke Welsh, six spoke English and only one was bilingual. 

After 1891, like Hannah, Thomas disappeared from the historical record. It’s probable that he died in May 1898.

Bridgend coalfield: Bryndu Colliery.

While at work Thomas diced with death, every day. At random I have selected ten Joneses who worked alongside Thomas in the local coal mines. The brief notes that follow record their fate.

Thomas Jones, aged 22: killed by falling from a byat while moving a stage in the shaft.

Evan Jones, aged 14: killed by a full train passing over him.

William Jones, aged 38: killed when the mineshaft roof fell.

William Jones, aged 37: killed by a fall of coal.

William Jones, aged 16: killed by a fall of coal.

Richard Jones, aged 34: killed when the side of the pit gave way.

David Jones, aged 45: killed when the mine roof collapsed.

Thomas Jones, aged 48: killed by an explosion of firedamp, one of two people killed.

David Jones, aged 26: killed by a gas explosion, one of eleven people killed.

Lewis Jones, aged 12: run over by trams through breakage of coupling chains.

Bridgend coalfield: Aberbaiden Colliery showing the entrance to the slip.

Did my Thomas die in a mining accident? It’s possible, but there is no record. More likely he died from the illnesses associated with working in the coal mines, particularly ‘the dust’, aka emphysema, a cruel illness that smoothers the sufferer. 

Ancestors like my 3 x great grandfather Thomas worked and died so that Victorian society could prosper and a few select men could become obscenely rich. It’s a lesson from history we have yet to learn. Today, rich men pollute the planet and massage their egos by jetting into space. Meanwhile, many of their workers live and die in poverty. We must hope for a wiser generation, our children’s generation, that will look into the past, learn the lessons, and create a better future for us all.

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

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Dear Reader

Dear Reader #76

Dear Reader,

Fanning the flames of love…

Paul Robeson, singer, actor and activist, in Madrid, January 1938 in support of the Spanish anti-fascists during the Spanish Civil War. Picture: Yale Library.

In Operation Treasure, Eve discovers that Gestapo officer Hauptsturmführer Klaus Raab shares her love of painting. Raab enjoys crude nudes whereas Eve is a fan of the Barbizon School.

The Barbizon School of painters focused on Realism, which developed through the Romantic Movement. The School takes its name from the village of Barbizon, situated near the Forest of Fontainebleau where many of the artists gathered.

An example from the Barbizon School, Charles-Émile Jacque’s Shepherdess and Her Flock, 1878.

Today, 19 November 2020, would have been Gene Tierney’s 100th birthday. Here’s my article about the Hollywood star and mental health advocate.

https://hannah-howe.com/2017/09/13/gene-tierney/

On 20 November 1945, the Nuremberg trials began. Judges from America, Britain, France and the Soviet Union sought justice for millions killed during the Holocaust. Twenty-four Nazi political and military leaders stood trial and nineteen were found guilty when the tribunal concluded on 1 October 1946.

The phrase ¡No pasarán!, They shall not pass! is most closely associated with the Spanish Civil War. However, it was also used by a Frenchman, General Robert Nivelle, at the Battle of Verdun during the First World War, Ils ne passeront pas!

The art of cutting cheese.


My 4 x great grandfather, John Howe (yet another John), was baptised on 26 February 1786 in St Hilary, Glamorgan. Baptisms usually took place within a week of birth, so his birthday was around 19 February 1786. 

John’s parents were John Howe and Cecily Lewis, wealthy farmers. However, in 1799 the government introduced the first-ever income tax and that tax put a dent in the family’s finances. After over a hundred years of farming in St Hilary, they moved away. John moved ten miles west to St Brides.

A Victorian Gazetteer described St Brides as, ‘A parish in the Hundred of Ogmore, in the county of Glamorgan. It is situated on the coast of the Bristol Channel, at the mouth of the River Ogmore. A special interest attaches to it as one of the earliest seats of the native princes. It has still some vestiges of the ancient castle of Dyndryfan (Dunraven), the traditional residence of Caradoc (Caractacus), and considerable remains of Ogmore Castle, a fortress of equal antiquity. The church is ancient, and has some fine monuments of the Butler and Wyndham families. The Calvinistic Methodists have a chapel in the village. Along the coast are several large and curiously-formed caves, one of which, of great depth, is called the “Wind Hole.”’

St Brides was a larger parish than St Hilary and therefore offered John greater employment opportunities. However, the population of St Brides actually declined throughout the nineteenth century, from 914 in 1841 to 621 in 1891.

It’s interesting that this branch of my family, over hundreds of years, continued to move west, in John’s case six miles along the coast to Tythegston, where he met his bride-to-be, Christiana John, daughter of Evan John, 1755-1832 and Mary 1757-1837.

A topographical dictionary of 1833 stated that the population of Tythegston stood at 404. The parish contained good arable and pasture land along with coal, iron ore and clay for making bricks. The parish also contained a school for ‘the gratuitous instruction of poor children.’

Christiana was born on 31 December 1795 and baptised on 6 January 1796. Her name became popular in the Howe family and can be found in numerous generations. It would seem that unlike her husband, John, she did not receive a formal education because when the couple married she did not sign her name, applying an ‘x’ instead.

Christiana was pregnant when she married John on 17 April 1819, in Tythegston. She gave birth to Edward in St Brides on 22 July 1819. William, my 3 x great grandfather, followed on 14 September 1823, along with Mary in 1827, Evan in 1828, Thomas in 1831, Richard in 1833, Cecily in 1836 and, at the age of 43, John in 1839. Christiana’s husband, John, worked as a thatcher while she obviously had her hands full at home.

The introduction of the census in 1841 opened a window for genealogists by providing more details about our ancestors. That said, the 1841 census was basic with names, approximate ages and occupations. Places of birth were often confused or deliberately misrepresented (so a person could claim local poor relief) with places of residence. In contrast, the 1851 census was more detailed and reliable.

The 1841 census found John Howe in St Brides with his wife Christiana and three of their children, Thomas, Richard and John. 

In 1851, John was living in Ogmore in the parish of St Brides with Christiana and two of their children, Cecily and John. John senior was a thatcher, a decent trade that earned him £75 per annum, a good wage considering that labourers earned £40 and women £10 per annum. Living in Ogmore as a thatcher it’s almost certain that John worked on the roofs of these cottages in nearby Merthyr Mawr.

As we struggle with Covid, so our ancestors had to combat cholera. Between 1829 and 1851, cholera invaded many communities. The outbreak in 1848 claimed 52,000 lives in England and Wales. Over time, communities improved their sanitation, but the connection between good health and care of our environment is still a lesson we struggle to learn.

John died, aged 70 (some records incorrectly state 73) of ‘old age’ on 24 December 1856 and was buried two days later. His son, Richard, witnessed the death certificate with a cross. 

In 1861, Christiana was living with her daughter, Mary, also a widow, at the age of 34. Ten years later, Christiana was living alone next door to a miller, where her daughter Cecily was a servant. Her son, Evan, lived next door.

Christiana died on 10 July 1874 aged 78 of ‘cancer and general decay’. Her son Evan was present and he applied his mark on the death certificate. John and Christiana are buried together in St Brides churchyard. 

The Howe family, tight-knit and prosperous in St Brides and St Hilary, now dispersed to various parts of Glamorgan where they experienced mixed fortunes.

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

Categories
Dear Reader

Dear Reader #18

Dear Reader,

I rediscovered Twitter this week. Like all of social media, Twitter is mainly a talking platform, not a listening platform. That said, I have found it useful for accessing information from experts who have greater knowledge about certain subjects than I have. Twitter, like all of social media, is not a good book promoting platform so I’m not sure if I will use it to any great extent. However, if you would like to connect there my Twitter link is on the sidebar.

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This week, we started work on the audiobook version of Victory. This will complete the Ann’s War series. The series is also available in a number of languages, with more to follow. I wrote the books as an experiment, which has turned into a great success. This has encouraged me to follow a similar pattern with my forthcoming Spanish Civil War series, The Olive Tree.

VICTORY AUDIOBOOK

The audiobook version of Escape is nearly ready for publication. It’s been a while since I wrote the story so I’ve managed to listen to it with fresh ears. I love the story. This has nothing to do with the quality of my writing, but is based on the remarkable series of true events that make up the story.

ESCAPE AUDIOBOOK

Many thanks to Graciela for her excellent translation of Boston, which will be available soon 🙂

BOSTON SPANISH

From my research… In 1939, there were more movie theatres in America – 15,115 – than banks – 14,952. More than 50 million Americans went to the movies every week and there were 400 new movies a year to watch. Annually, the movies were the nation’s eleventh-biggest business in terms of assets netting $529,950,444. Although synonymous with Hollywood, the financial aspect of the movies was controlled by New York.

Movie executives were amongst the richest rewarded, ranked second in terms of percentage sales and profits while leading actors and directors, on short-term contracts, could earn $40,000 a week. In comparison leading writers earned $350 – $1,000 a week.

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Bogart and Bacall

My appreciation of the classic movie North by Northwest https://hannah-howe.com/2019/10/09/north-by-northwest/

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Eva Marie Saint with Cary Grant in North by Northwest, 1959

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

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Ann's War Sam Smith Mystery Series Sam's Sunday Supplement

Sam’s Sunday Supplement #21

FACEBOOK HEADER SAM AND ANN

Last week, Sam’s Song reached #1 on the Amazon private detective chart for the fifth time (56 on the main chart). This will probably be the last time one of my books tops an Amazon.com chart because I will not be promoting directly to that site in future. Nevertheless, five number ones is a record I’m pleased with and proud of.

FAMILY HONOUR AUDIO BOOK

Digging in the Dirt was published this weekend. The book broke my pre-order record so many thanks to everyone who pre-ordered it. I hope you enjoy the story. Also published this week, the audio book of Family Honour narrated by Suzan Lynn Lorraine. Please see my Audio Book page for samples of my audio books.

280px-Austin_104_36125906

The Austin 10 driven by spy master Charles Montagu in my forthcoming Ann Morgan Mystery Series. Currently, I’m editing Betrayal, book one in the series, for publication in November.

The cliffs at Southerndown provide the dramatic location for the finale of Betrayal, Ann Morgan Mystery Series book one, published in November. Here is a short film showing the cliffs in all their glory.

Studio_publicity_Gene_Tierney

In case you missed it, here is my appreciation of actress Gene Tierney a woman whose life was far more dramatic than any of the roles she played. Her quotes, taken from her autobiography, are particularly poignant and insightful. This is my most popular article to date.

 

 

 

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Biography Movies Psychology

Gene Tierney

Gene Tierney

Through her looks and life story, Gene Tierney has provided the inspiration for two of my characters – Ann Morgan in my 1944-5 Ann Morgan Mystery Series and Dana Devlin in my forthcoming Sam Smith Mystery Series novel, The Devil and Ms Devlin. Therefore, in appreciation of Gene Tierney’s life and career, I decided to write this article.

Studio_publicity_Gene_Tierney

Born on the 19th November 1920 in Brooklyn, New York, to a wealthy insurance broker and a socialite mother, Gene Tierney enjoyed a privileged upbringing, an upbringing that included exclusive schools, extensive travel and glamorous parties. Aged seventeen, she met Anatole Litvak, an influential Hollywood director, and he invited the debutante to make a screen test for Warner Brothers. Impressed by her looks and potential, the studio offered her a contract. However, her parents were not pleased.

Obeying her parents, Gene Tierney returned to Connecticut where she endured a mind-numbing season of debutante parties. At the close of the season, she informed her parents of her desire to carve out a career as an actress. On this occasion, her parents offered their support. Her father, Howard, secured mentoring and schooling, and he formed a company, to assist Gene in her ambitions.

Gene Tierney’s early theatre performances attracted the attention of Warner Brothers who, once again, offered her a contract. However, she turned them down; instead, she signed a six month deal with Columbia.

With Gene Tierney’s star on the rise, eccentric movie mogul Howard Hughes entered the picture. He was besotted with her beauty. However, as she later pointed out, “Cars, furs and gems were not my weakness.” And she rebuffed Hughes.

Despite the rebuff, Howard Hughes remained friends with Gene Tierney, one of many influential and powerful people she encountered during her life. At this stage, she was a contract actress with a major studio, reduced to roles dependant on her looks, rather than her acting ability. Then she caught the eye of Darryl Zanuck, of Twentieth Century Fox. Later, Zanuck stated that Gene Tierney was, “the most beautiful woman in movie history.”

In 1940, Gene Tierney played Eleanor Stone in The Return of Frank James. The reviews for the movie, and Gene’s performance, were unkind. Indeed, Gene endured a number of unfavourable reviews throughout her career, and while some of those reviews were merited, you have to wonder if jealousy, over her looks and privileged upbringing, was also at play.

Also in 1940, Gene Tierney’s private life changed direction. She met fashion designer Oleg Cassini and within months the couple were married. Once again, her parents were not pleased and a rift developed within the family. Over time, that rift widened until Gene was cut off financially, and from Connecticut high society.

Stressed, and enduring a string of dubious movies and poor reviews, Gene fell ill. Nevertheless, she remained in Hollywood and continued to work, landing the lead role in the 1943 movie, Heaven Can Wait.

In June 1943, a pregnant Gene Tierney contracted rubella. On the 14th October 1943, she went into premature labour and soon after her daughter, Daria, was born. Tragically, the rubella affected Daria’s development and she suffered from a number of impediments.

With professional help, Gene Tierney and Oleg Cassini raised Daria at their Hollywood home. While adjusting to her maternal responsibilities, Gene landed the title role in Laura, in 1944, arguably the highpoint of her acting career. Although the film received mixed reviews – a consistent thread throughout Gene’s career – it did well at the box office, netting over a million dollars, and now is regarded as a cinema classic. As Vincent Price, one of her co-stars in Laura, said, “No one but Gene Tierney could have played Laura. There was no other actress around with her particular combination of beauty, breeding and mystery.”

The success of Laura should have brought Gene Tierney great happiness. However, Oleg Cassini could not cope with his daughter’s disability and, in 1946, he walked out of the family home.

Before that, in 1945, Gene Tierney starred in Leave Her to Heaven, and received an Oscar nomination for her performance. In 1946, she co-starred with Vincent Price in Dragonwyck and during the filming she met J.F. Kennedy. A relationship developed, but was not pursued because of J.F.K.’s political ambitions.

In 1947, Gene Tierney made The Ghost and Mrs Muir. However, unhappy with her personal life, she decided to leave Hollywood and returned to Connecticut. In 1948, while constantly crying tears for Daria, Gene went through a whirlwind of emotions with Oleg Cassini – they divorced, Gene became pregnant, she gave birth to a second daughter, Christina, on the 19th November 1948 her 28th birthday, and later remarried Cassini.

Unable to cope with Daria’s health problems, Gene bowed to Oleg’s insistence and placed her daughter in an institution. At this point, Gene’s health faltered and she slipped into deep depression. Mood swings ensued. A lack of understanding from the medical profession and the stigma from an uncaring society added to Gene’s problems. She threw herself into her work and later wrote, “As long as I was playing someone else, everything was fine. It was when I had to be myself that the problems began.” She added, with great insight, “Depression is only a temporary thing. I’ve often thought that if people who committed suicide could wake up the next morning they’d ask themselves, ‘Now why in the world did I do that?’”

In the early 1950s, Gene divorced Oleg Cassini for a second time. Her career, personal life and health were in crisis.

In 1955, while working with Humphrey Bogart on The Left Hand of God, Bogart noted that Gene had problems. He alerted the executives at Fox studios, but they dismissed his concerns in flippant fashion. As Gene Tierney later wrote, “It was the fashion at the time, still is, to feel that all actors are neurotic, or they would not be actors.”

On set, Gene continued to work to a high standard, while at home she struggled to cope with the basic tasks of life. In despair, Gene entered a sanatorium. Within the sanatorium, she received electroconvulsive-therapy, a degrading and barbaric practice, now considered inappropriate by many mental health professionals.

In the spring of 1957, Gene Tierney contemplated suicide. In New York, she walked on to the ledge of her mother’s 14th floor high-rise apartment. She later wrote, “I felt serene…totally without fear.” However, she didn’t jump because vanity took hold. She confessed, “I thought of what I’d look like when I hit the ground – like a scrambled egg. That didn’t appeal to me.”

More treatment followed, but thankfully treatment of a saner, helpful variety. Gene entered the Menninger Clinic in Kansas. There, in an atmosphere of peace and quiet, she was encouraged to talk. With support, she developed skills and coping strategies, until she reached the stage where she felt more in control of her illness. Today, even though drugs and other treatments are available, talking often remains the best cure.

While on holiday in 1958, Gene met W. Howard Lee, a Texas oilman. A year later, she resumed her acting career in Holiday for Lovers, but the strain proved too much, and she dropped the part. However, on the 11th July 1960, she did marry W. Howard Lee and stated, “The only time I was really happy was in my childhood – and now.”

After continued treatment at the Menninger Clinic, small acting roles followed, along with greater insight into Gene’s problems. She later wrote, “If you break an arm or a leg it takes months for it to really heal, and years for it to be the same again. So you can imagine the problems with a broken mind.” And, “More than anything, I learned that the mind is the most beautiful part of the body and I am grateful to have mine back.”

In 1962, Gene suffered a miscarriage. Bouts of depression and periods of mania followed, but when they faded she was able to reflect on them with humour, often joking with her new husband.

Although not reaching the heights of Laura, Gene appeared in movies and television series, until 1969 when she quit Hollywood and television for good.

W. Howard Lee died in February 1981, and from that point on, after years in the spotlight, Gene Tierney decided to live a life of seclusion.

Gene died on the 6th November 1991, of emphysema, a condition brought on through chain-smoking; at the start of her acting career, and showing no regard for the individual, the studio suggested that Gene should take up smoking, to make her voice huskier.

Gene_Tierney_in_Laura_trailer_kindlephoto-163073908

Gene Tierney wrote, “Wealth, beauty and fame are transient. When those are gone, little is left except the need to be useful.” And she served that statement well by writing her autobiography, Self-Portrait, in 1979. Through her frank and honest account of her life, Gene Tierney helped to break down the stigma of mental illness, and along with her numerous movies, that stands as her greatest legacy.

Further reading: Self-Portrait – Gene Tierney with Mickey Herskowitz.

https://www.amazon.com/Self-Portrait-Gene-Tierney/dp/0883261529