Family Tree Live

When I published my first book back in 2012 about my Australian ancestors, The Worst Country in the World, I contacted a number of magazines, organisations, newspapers and individuals asking if they would review it. About half of them ignored me, and of the rest, most of them told me rather begrudgingly I was welcome to send them a copy of the book but they could not guarantee anything.

Now I appreciate asking anyone to review a book, especially from an unknown author, is a Big Ask; but at the same time it costs a fair bit to send copies to the far side of the world, and then to hear nothing more is disappointing.

However among the few positive responses I received was one from a delightful lady called Karen Clare, Deputy Editor of Family Tree magazine. Not only was she pleased to read and review the book (and as it happens to review it very positively) she was extremely gracious about it. She even implied I was doing her a favour by sending it, and by submitting other pieces for the magazine’s blog, and she invariably answers my emails promptly and enthusiastically.

If you’ve ever been a novice writer you’ll know what a lonely business writing and publishing can be, which is why it was especially exciting for me to be able to say a brief Hello and Thank You to Karen at the Family Tree Live conference held recently at Ally Pally.

The two-day conference comprised a list of lectures and workshops on everything from DNA – a hot topic, and a few cats have been thrown among pigeons for some people when they discover their father/brother/grandfather was not who they thought they were – to the ethics of family history. As Dr Penny Walters said in her talk on ‘Ethical Dilemmas’, we may have a good chuckle about our g-g grandma who was seven months pregnant when she got married, but to your g-g-grandma it was no laughing matter.

According to Dr Nick Barrett – genealogist and historian, who among other things worked on the first four series of Who Do You Think You Are – there has been a big change in attitude towards family history over the past fifteen years. What was once regarded as a ‘navel-gazing’ hobby is now taken seriously by academics, as the findings of family historians and DNA testing is challenging historical records.

I was only able to attend the conference on one day, but I sincerely hope it happens again. Thank you to Family Tree magazine, and especially to Karen Clare, for making this family historian’s task that much easier and more satisfying.

© Patsy Trench