Saturday, 26 September 2015

Margaret Hope Fuels Hope

Four funerals and a wedding in my immediate family in recent months have deflected my attention from family history while I focused on my living and recently-bereaved relatives.

Meanwhile, my agent John Timlin has had no luck in finding a commercial publisher for 'A Fragrant Memory' - so far. Digital technology has forced massive change upon the publishing industry. Books like 'A Fragrant Memory', with a high pictorial content and appealing to a specialised audience rather than a mass market, are seen as expensive & troublesome ventures, especially when weighed against the likely number of paying customers within Australia. Margaret Flockton being English-born and bred, the book might better suit an English publisher, given that country's much larger population and long history of interest in botanic gardens and botanical art.

My gloom over this book has lifted slightly this week, with the 'encouraging' news that it took 130 years before Margaret Hope's book 'Wildflowers of Tasmania' was published. A partnership between the Australian Garden History Society and the Allport Library and Museum of Fine Arts in Hobart brought it to life. I trust my book will reach readers sooner than that!

Margaret Hope (1848-1934) is an interesting peer of Margaret Flockton's (1861-1953). She was born in Tasmania 13 years before Margaret Flockton's birth in England, and when she died in Hobart in 1934 she was hailed as a 'notable woman'. Both women loved Australian wildflowers but unlike English-born Margaret, Tasmanian-born Margaret was not a scientific botanical artist. However F.M Bailey, Queensland's Colonial Botanist, used her to illustrate his 1887 book 'Plants Reputed Poisonous and Injurious to Stock'. (Margaret Flockton had not yet arrived in Australia.)

My research for 'A Fragrant Memory' did not uncover any evidence of direct contact between the two Margarets, but they must have been well aware of each other's existence and life work.

I've heard through the grapevine that experienced author Carolyn Landon also had difficulties finding a publisher for her book Banksia Lady: Celia Rosser, Botanical Artist. Celia Rosser being a distinguished botanical artist still living in Victoria, Monash University Publishing has recently brought her biography to the public's attention. Here's hoping it's a great success.

Meanwhile, let me know if you'd like to join the waiting list for 'A Fragrant Memory.' It will eventually become a reality!