‘Madness and Marvels’ ebook now available

Cover of Madness and Marvels: the lives and times of C. Y. O'Connor and Dr Henry Barnett

It’s done! Madness and Marvels, the book I’ve been working on for the last four years, is now available as an ebook. I decided to self-publish it, for two reasons. First, so that those who have been eagerly waiting for it can read it. And second, to make the research that went in to it available. for anyone who might find it useful.

You can download it from all the main ebook distributors (Apple, Kindle, Kobo, Barnes and Noble etc). Or you can borrow it from Overdrive (through the Libby app), Borrow Box or Hoopla, though you might need to request it through your library first. If ebooks aren’t your thing, I plan to produce a paperback version soon.

Though set in the same place, and in much the same era, as The Edward Street Baby Farm, Madness and Marvels is a different sort of book. There are no court-room dramas, no wicked women or dead babies.* It’s essentially a dual biography of two professional men, the engineer C. Y. O’Connor and Dr Henry Barnett, the Superintendent of the Fremantle Lunatic Asylum.

The lives of these two Irish men crossed in Fremantle in the 1890s. The West Australian parliament, under John Forrest’s leadership, was just getting to grips with self-government. Fremantle Harbour was being constructed, after much debate. Then the gold rush happened. The book looks at how these events affected O’Connor and Barnett, and the colonial society in which they lived.

* Actualy, there is one death of a child mentioned, that of C. Y. O’Connor’s son in infancy.

Work in progress – an update

It’s quite a while since I posted anything here, so I thught I’d give a quick update on what has been happening.

SS Sultan sails into Fremantle Harbour 1897

In February I finished drafting and editing my book about C. Y. O’Connor and Dr Henry Barnett (which I’ve titled Madness and Marvels ). It’s now doing the rounds of publishers. It’s a fascinating story but it isn’t as sensational as that of The Edward Steet Baby Farm and I suspect it may take a while to find someone interested in taking it on. In the meantime, I’m considering what to write about next. Should it be another non-fiction book, a novel, a collection of shorter biographies? So many possibilities.

Invitations to speak about The Edward Street Baby Farm still arrive occasionally. At the last talk I gave in March, I was delighted to meet one of Alice Mitchell’s descendents, who had a copy of my book for me to sign. We had a great chat.

Last month my website moved to a different hosting arrangement, which will supposedly make it easier to look after the back-end of things. If you notice any glitches, please let me know.

I continue to write a monthly newsletter, The Scribbler, with articles on a wide variety of topics, many of them history related. It also includes updates about my books. You can read back issues here. If you would like to subscribe, please use the box below or in the side bar.