CELIA BOYD

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Welcome to my website. I’m Celia Boyd, a writer living in Cheltenham Gloucestershire U.K. Before I retired twenty years ago, I used to be a Probation Officer, and ended up training Probation Officers, but my mother always believed I had a respectable job, playing a piano in a brothel. Before that I was an English teacher, in secondary schools and Colleges of Education My father was the blind Herefordshire poet Edward Kaulfuss. If I’ve inherited a smidgeon of his talent as a wordsmith, I should be very grateful. Listeners still  ask for his poems on  Poetry Please, on the B.B.C.

Remembering life as a child in the Second World War I wrote Young Ravens in the early 1970s whilst my memories were still fresh, and recently I’ve completed a book of short stories Cat O’Nine Tales. More about them on Page 3 of this website.(Why should you escape?) I’ve contributed to the  Cambridge Guide to Children’s Books in English and had two articles published in Signal, Approaches to Children’s Books. As Celia Mason, when working for the West Midlands Probation Service, I wrote Are You Here for the  Beer, an in-cell, self-help guide for prison inmates whose criminality stemmed from Alcohol Abuse. For this I received the Butler Trust Award, presented by Princess Anne.

Enough name dropping! Many thanks for reading this. Could I tell you about Tom Fletcher? .I’ve written a series of historical novels set in the English Civil War. The novels take the form of the memoirs of a young physician who against his will finds himself tragically forced into the violent political action that began in his home town of Worcester in 1642. My interest in the Civil War was aroused when I worked there, lecturing at the College of Education. A colleague, Chris Kemp, lived and breathed the Civil War and his infectious enthusiasm inspired me. We improvised little playlets—Chris as pedantic Puritan preacher, myself as innocent(?) Royalist maiden—which we performed in costume for local schoolchildren. History does not record their stunned reactions to our efforts but their bemused silent response spoke volumes!

Then I happened upon Charles Carlton’s absorbing work  Going to the Wars, which further stimulated my obsession, and I would recommend this for anyone interested in our Civil Wars (There were three between 1642 and 1651) I later discovered Caliver Books and it was in Alan Turton’s The Chief Strength of the Army (Essex Horse 1642-1645) where I found Tom Fletcher, or perhaps he found me. I read that the surgeon for Parliamentarian Basil, Lord Fielding, at Edgehill was a man of this name.  Slowly a serious but sharp witted young man took shape in my head and became the  butcher’s son,  who trained as a doctor in Worcester, for three years before the first battle of Powick Bridge, just outside  that city. The first line of the first book in the series —(“Once whilst committing suicide, I changed my mind.”)—shot without warning into my head and Tom Fletcher and First Dry Rattle came into being.

I didn’t want to write in the style of today, but if you write a series that sells, you need a medium that has chronological authenticity but that is also riveting and engrossing. Readers want to be transported, but they do not want to struggle to understand. I’m told that my style is essentially readable, even though I am very careful never to use a word that was not current before the time of the English Civil Wars. The Shorter Oxford Dictionary on Historical Principles is essential.

The genre in which I write could be termed “picaresque”. Tom Fletcher, like Don Quixote in Spain  and Tom Jones and Mr Pickwick, finds himself taking perilous journeys across war torn England and Wales. I am very careful to give as accurate an account as possible of actual historic occurrences. Historical fiction is fiction but it is still about history, and that cannot change. Fortunately fictional plots abound, so the Muse of History, Clio, retains her throne.

Tom falls foul of the medical profession which was in a state of flux during the first half of the seventeenth century. The traditional fashionable doctors followed the astrological teachings of Galen, and the outmoded doctrine of the “humours”, which could result in their doing nothing until the stars were favourable ! Tom frequently points out that a broken leg has neither politics nor religious beliefs! He  was trained by his cousin Ben who in his turn was at University in Bologna where the hygienic practices of modern medicine were taught. Much of the teaching in Bologna and Montpellier, the medical centres of Renaissance Italy and France, stemmed from the Middle East which was considerably ahead of Europe in the study of Medicine.

The title of the series “A Reason from the Stars” is taken from a verse written by Matthew Parker, “When the King Enjoys His Own Again”. He claims :- There’s neither Swallow, Dove nor Dade/ Can further fly nor deeper wade/ Nor show a reason from the Stars/ What causeth peace or Civil Wars.” In other words, “Don’t look to the stars to give you a reason for  civil war! There  is no reason!” Throughout his memoirs, Tom Fletcher often looks at the indifferent stars, and realises that like the ignorant doctors who try to find guidance from their movements, his fellow men have put their trust in a heaven that seems to care nothing for the fate of mankind. The  question that vexes him considerably will always be “Why does a loving God allow this suffering to happen?”