"This article is intended as an exercise in‘reflective practice’ rather than a piece of academic writing. It describes an innovative and successful oral history project at Frome in Somerset, which resulted in the publication of a book called Working Memories, reviewed elsewhere in this edition of Regional Historian.The article covers the background to the project;the choice of sample of 90 people interviewed;the collection of photos and memorabilia; the editing of the interviews; how oral history relates to other forms of history; and some substantive and methodological conclusions that might be drawn from the project".
Mary Hamilton was perhaps the most notorious cross-dresser or ‘female-husband’ of her day. She lived in Somerset, among other places, and was the subject of scandal across the country for her habitual crime of marrying other women. Her story was preserved in the pages of an anonymous pamphlet by a famous contemporary novelist and dramatist. Through the story of Mary Hamilton, Sheila Hannon considers the rights and responsibilities of modern-day novelists and dramatists in their use of historical evidence. To what extent can writers take liberties with historical record in the name of ‘dramatic license’, when much of the ‘historical evidence’ that remains is itself fiction?