Troubador “All My Darlings”

Released: 28/11/2018

ISBN: 9781789014358

eISBN: 9781789012521

Format: Paperback/eBook

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“All My Darlings”

A Victorian Family in Their Own Words


My aim … to rescue from oblivion the lives of ordinary people – Athol Fugard

In 2005, Patricia Neate inherited a dusty Regency desk that had once belonged to her husband's great grandfather, George Augustus Macirone. Sagging under the weight of papers, it sat in the spare room, shedding rosewood veneer. Something had to be done. 

Patricia took a deep breath and opened it up. She pulled out a packet of yellowed letters, brown at the edges – scores of tiny envelopes addressed to George Macirone, George Augustus’s father, at a place called Heigham Hall. On an impulse she looked it up straight away. It had been a private Lunatic Asylum. She sat down to read there and then. 

Patricia began to pick her way through a treasure trove of family letters spanning the reign of Queen Victoria. It contained vivid stories – from a first hand account of the young Queen’s wedding to a plan to spring Napoleon from St Helena via brushes with cultural icons like Dickens, Keats and Mendelssohn. But, the most gripping were the personal ones – of mental illness and manic invention, grand houses and debtors’ prison, flawed hopes of colonial emigration, and the religious schisms that almost tore the Macirones apart. And through them all ran the lives of George Augustus’s sisters, Clara and Emily, who sacrificed any hope of romantic love or children to support their family – two enterprising, resilient, talented women, two notable omissions from “Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls”!

More than a decade later, Patricia completed “All My Darlings”. It is a remarkable achievement: a quotidian tale of Victorian life, a vital social history, and a simple family portrait - open-ended, unguarded and brimming with humanity.

Transcriptions of all the letters in the Macirone archive can now be accessed via the All My Darlings website .

I love how this family's history was laid out via their own letters, journals, and other documents found in an old desk. The writer put together a book that was more interesting than fiction. I felt myself becoming invested in this family the more that I read.

by Cristie Underwood

When the author discovered a treasure trove of letters photos diaries of this family,he went back in time entering their lives their world.I loved this book what a wonderful treat to go back in time to get an intimate look at them their daily existence their era.Highly recommend.

by Abby Siverman

This is a beautiful book of one family's history laid out with letters, journals and documents belonging to the ancestors. I really love history and genealogy and I really enjoyed the way this story combines the two. Ordinary families can be so extraordinary when their lives are examined in full. A wonderful journey from the author.

by Kirsty

The author inherited a desk filled with letters from her husband's side of the family. As she began to read through the letters she realized that the letters contained a glimpse into the families life during The Victorian Era. Even though the family was not wealthy or very famous their lives intersected many of the famous musicians and artists of the era. There is a lot of information in the letters. I liked the way the author chose which letters to reprint and which ones she summarized. There are lots of historical illustrations that accompany the text. Enjoy getting to know the family

by Kari

Some days ago I turned the last of the more than 6oo pages of this book after reading every page not missing a single word. I felt sad because I had come to know George, Mary Ann, Clara, Emily and George Augustus so well. They had been brought to life but had passed away again. The author has first made a clever selection of parts of the letters exchanged between these members of the Macirone family. Next she has woven these parts together to create a full picture of their lives, their successes, their troubles (health, finances, religion) and the economic and social world around them. Their lives were far from easy but they did not break down. The book is not a novel nor a history. In real time the reader lives with the writers of the letters. And having lived with them one regrets their passing. The book is a monument to the family and their world.

by Leonard van Sandick

Patricia Neate

A lifelong Londoner, Patricia Neate has been a teacher, marriage counsellor and family therapist. A fascination with human relationships, which provide the underlying texture of life in the past as in the present, drew the author inevitably to the story of the family who live so vividly in All My Darlings through their letters, diaries and notebooks.

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