Monday, 19 October 2015

Research for Writers

In day two of my blogging challenge I am looking at research for writers. I am sure that all writers would agree that research is crucial in informing their writing. I would venture to say this is true in all genres, even in Fantasy. Not being a fantasy writer I can't actually comment on that, however, as a crime writer I think research can often be key. This is not just for ensuring accuracy but also as ideas for future plots. The most unlikely things can make a crime writer's mind go in seriously deranged directions. 

I am currently in London and when I discovered that there was a Crime Museum Exhibition at the Museum of London, I had to go. This is a temporary exhibition so I paid my money and took my chance. What a fabulous couple of hours. The museum is packed with evidence from crimes throughout the history of the Met Police, as well as other artefacts I never even knew existed. How about Death Masks from offenders hanged outside Newgate Prison. The earliest one I could see was that of James Greenacre aged 42. He was known as the Edgware Road Murderer and was hanged on 2nd May 1837 for the murder of his fiancee, Hannah Brown aged 47. I'm never going to stroll up the Edgware Road in quite the same way again. 

An older case, but no death mask on display was that of Henry Fauntleroy in 1824. He was the last man to be hanged in Britain for Forgery. Another interesting facet of this case is that he was a partner in the bank from which he stole the money. He admitted guilt but his defence rested on the fact he said he did it for the good of the bank. Funnily enough they didn't believe him. He was hanged outside Newgate Prison in front of a crowd of 100,000 spectators. That's some audience. 

Exhibits include The Kray's Briefcase and a stocking mask which literally is made from the top of a stocking. There are outlines of numerous real cases with the artefacts from these cases displayed alongside them. The most modern exhibits are those from acts of terrorism including the 7/7 bombings. This certainly makes you think about the fragility of human life. It is fascinating in a macabre sort of way. 

As a writer, research can come in many different guises. It is worth looking to see if there is anything you can do which will help you with your writing. My day out has certainly helped me. Look around and see if there is anything different you can do that will help you. It is so much fun being an author so make the most of it. 

There we are for day two my Bookaholic friends. See you back here tomorrow for the next blog in the challenge. Until then keep reading and writing. 


  1. I had a lovely 18 months researching for my current work-in-progress. It involved: trips around the Hebrides; talking to numerous very interesting people; visiting heritage centres, museums, lighthouses and castles, reading up about early Jacobinism in Scotland ; and walking several times all over a fascinating causeway islet off the south tip of Mull. It has proved invaluable in deepening the plot and providing authentic background. And it was fun!

    1. It does sound like fun. What a fantastic and fascinating opportunity