... Maggie Secara on Gossip, Tudor-times and the Gregorian calendar
: Im hardly that! Really, Im less a historian than a gossip. I cant bear the idea that something happened 400 years ago that I dont know about. So I have to dig for details! And Ive been doing it since 1987, so a lot of details have piled up. And theres this website, see. And this book.
: I was in love with Shakespeare from an early age, so the Elizabethans have always been of interest to me. A great 400-year-old play is partly a good story told wonderfully, partly an artifact of another place and time. One thing led to another, which led to the Renaissance Pleasure Faire, and a 35-year on-going research project. Theres still so much I dont know, and I still find it fascinating.
: You dont want much, do you! Theres no simple answer to that. And Im not really qualified to address that. I do know that it was not a significantly simpler time than ours. It was complex, dangerous, brilliant, punctuated with famine, inflation, political unrest, and religious strife. It was not a comfortable time to be alive in England, Im sure, especially in the last 20 years of the reign. No golden age is ever perfect! And yet theres this image of Merry England that endures
: I do have a Masters degree in English, which I took largely because there was no way to major in English History at my university. Literature cant exist with a context, and thats history! So basically, the source is books! Lots of books. Journal articles when I can get at them. Occasionally other like-minded people whose studies have taken them in various other directions. Ive always said I dont have to know everything, as long as I know who to ask. Theres a nice big bibliography at the back of the Compendium with all or most of the resources Ive employed, including the odd expert who has volunteered their knowledge in email and conversation. I learned a good deal about bread that way.
: Really, theyll be what new additions to it always were: more stuff. New pages, new topics. The existing pages are only changed when they need to be correctedand theres always something. New information always gets a new page of its own
: They can get it for free any time they like. We give it away free every single day, and a whole lot more, on the internet, at Elizabethan.org. The Compendium itself is here. They should buy it for the very reasons you mention: so they can write in the margins, take it on the bus, read it in bed. For years, people asked me why they couldnt find this book in their library. Teachers asked about it! I thought I could never sell it because it has such a small niche market, it wouldnt be worth it to a publisher. Plus, it would need to be revised from time to time, and never go out of print. Finally, enough people prevailed on me, so I published it myself.
: Nitpicking is a virtue. Its not about precision so much as knowing what were actually talking about. The general is meaningless if you have no grasp of the particular. A farmer knows whether hes sowing wheat or barleydifferent growing seasons, different strains, different needs. And corn, at least in period, meant different grains in different places. A writer, re-enactor, and even an actor preparing for a role should know this.
Also, while the British, and the historical record, generally refer to grains as corn, in the US, we use that word for what everyone else calls maize. I made a note in the Compendium about it, because its easy for a US reader to read corn and imagine theyre talking about corn-on-the-cob.
: That we never make the same mistakes twice in the same way.
: I really dont anymore. Ive been involved with Clan MacColin of Glenderry (Highland/Irish), Kriegshund Fähnlein (Landsknechten) and the Guild of St George (Royal Court). All of these groups are very costume-intensive, and intense in other ways as well. All strive for a high level of understanding and, dare I say it, authenticity. I learned a lot from them, but not Ive stepped away from direct participation and am putting what Ive learned into my writing. My new novel, Molly September, draws on the living history experience I many ways.
: I make my living as a technical writer, doing user manuals and online help, and other useful but less interesting things. Ive written poetry, too. And in the last couple of years, Ive really gotten into fiction. My first novel, Molly September, a historical, romantic adventure, just came out a few weeks ago. Its the culmination of years of work and re-work, and Im very proud of it. Im working on a time travel-faerie-fantasy trilogy right now. The first volume is finished and looking for a home; the other two are in revision (fantasy agents, please take note). Its really the most exciting thing Ive ever done!
: Yes! A blatant typo in the current edition, at the bottom of page 8, says the Gregorian calendar was adopted in the 12th century. Thats absurd, of course. Please take your pencils and mark out the 12, and insert 16. It is correct on the website (the website is scrupulously maintained ) and will be fixed in the coming edition; dont be the only one who doesnt know.