Tag Archives: 1920s

Film footage of Poppy’s cruise to New York

I’m currently writing book 3 in the Poppy Denby Investigates series. Poppy and her friends will be going to New York, travelling on an oceanliner the RMS Olympic, sister ship to the Titanic. As you well know, the Titanic sank in 1912 (in The Jazz Files Elizabeth Dorchester’s mother, Maud, died on the maiden voyage, and in book 2, The Kill Fee, the parents of Delilah’s new boyfriend also went the same way). The Olympic was one of three sisters operated by the White Star Line between Europe and New York. The third ship, the Britannic, was sunk by a German underwater mine in 1916. But the Olympic survived and had a long and illustrious career until 1934 when she was finally decomissioned. Poppy and her pals will be travelling in April 1921. I am beside myself to have found this incredible promotional film of life on board the Olympic. Just imagine what fun Poppy is going to have! It’s 16 minutes long, so make sure you have a cup of tea at the ready – and don’t forget to turn up the sound.

Mary Pickford & cinema in the 1920s

I saw this last night on TV and have now tracked it down on YouTube. It’s a documentary about Mary Pickford and the development of early cinema. I wasn’t aware that she was a shrewd businesswoman too and along with Chaplin and Fairbanks started her own studio. If the film industry itself doesn’t interest you then the documentary footage of the time just might. Of particular note is the footage of Mary and Amelia Earhardt speaking about the role of groundbreaking women of the time plus Chaplin and Fairbanks devising some slapstick routines in the garden. I loved it!

Pea Soup Fog – and other miseries

We can get all nostalgic about past eras and I’m the first to admit I focus on the glamour of the 1920s. But in The Jazz Files and its sequels I try to also show the darker underbelly of the period. In The Jazz Files there’s the long shadow of WWI, the Spanish Flu, the torture of suffragettes, domestic abuse, the dreadful living conditions of the poor and the forced institutionalisation of women with ‘mental health issues’. In Book 2(to come out in September 2016) there is the displacement of millions of people after the Russian Revolution and the plight of injured and unemployed servicemen in London. In Book 3, which I’ve just started, I’ve come across my first piece of misery: Pea Soup Fog! This lethal mix of mist from the Thames and noxious by-products from coal fires caused the ill-health or death of¬†tens of thousands¬†until the Clean Air Act of 1956 started to reverse it. Click here to see a picture of a policeman at Charing Cross in the early 1920s trying to direct traffic through the ‘pea soup’. Imagine poor Poppy having to live through that!

Poppy Denby Investigates

Here are some pics from a film shoot we did for a book trailer for The Jazz Files American launch. I’ll show you the finished film when it’s ready, but for now enjoy these stills of actress Amber Irish playing Poppy Denby as she arrives in London and starts investigating.

Poppy Denby arrives in London to start work as a journalist at The Daily Globe.
Poppy Denby arrives in London to start work as a journalist at The Daily Globe.
When a senior journalist is killed she is tasked with finishing the story he was working on when he died. Poppy Denby Investigates.
When a senior journalist is killed she is tasked with finishing the story he was working on when he died. Poppy Denby Investigates.

Pics from the launch

Everyone had a flapulous time at the launch party at Waterstones, Newcastle on the 25 September. Here is a taste of it. You might want to view the pics to the accompaniment of the Tiger Rag by the Original Dixieland Jazzband. At the launch it was played by Yussef Nimer and Jimmy Madrell from Middlesbrough, not Dixie :)

Yussef (left), Jimmy and yours truly.
Yussef (left), Jimmy and yours truly.
My commissioning editor, Jess Tinker from Lion Fiction who came all the way from Oxford.
My commissioning editor, Jess Tinker from Lion Fiction who came all the way from Oxford.
Me reading a chapter from The Jazz Files with my daughter in the background.
Me reading a chapter from The Jazz Files with my daughter in the background.