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Introducing jamesfraserwest

Right. It is time for me to introduce you all to a Great Project. It's the culmination of something which I have been working on since the summer, and which my mother has been working on for over five years now.

See, in 1991, my step-grandmother died, and left to my mother an archive of family documents. Amongst them was the last diary of her grandfather - James Fitzjames Fraser West, a Victorian surgeon who worked at Queen's Hospital, Birmingham from 1854-83, and had an extensive private practice of his own. We quickly realised the incredible interest of both diary and archive, and, around the year 2000, my mother started work on a full-scale biography of West. In September of this year, that biography was published, under the title A Victorian Surgeon. A Biography of James Fitzjames Fraser West 1833-83, Birmingham Surgeon.

The diary itself is published in full as an appendix at the end of the biography. But, as a regular reader of pepysdiary, I knew that it had far greater potential than that. And so I have set up jamesfraserwest - West's own home in cyberspace, where his final diary will be serialised, complete with pictures and annotations for the people and places mentioned in it, starting from January 2008.

And this is where you come in.

I firmly believe that this diary will be of enormous interest to huge numbers of people. Those who like reading pepysdiary, for a start. Those who enjoy Victorian history, medical history, or simply like reading other people's journals, to boot. And there are special treats in store, too, for those who like travel writing, since West undertook a month-long excursion around France and Italy with his wife during March and April 1883, visiting historical sites, churches and local hospitals as he did so. (That's my personal favourite bit, and I had a lot of fun helping Mum make sense of West's visits to archaeological sites in Rome and Pompeii while we were transcribing the diary). Just check out the 'taster entries' I have put on the journal's profile page if you want a sense of why this is great reading material.

But, unlike Samuel Pepys, only four months' worth of West's final diary survive. So people really need to know about it now if they're going to get in on the action before it's all over. The boon which I crave from you, then, is this - help me spread the word.

Friend the diary yourself. If you already read pepysdiary (and if you don't, you should!), I guarantee you will love it. And of course you'll also be ensuring that it gets on a lot of friendsfriends pages in the process! ;-)

Tell your friends. And tell them to tell their friends. Don't hold back - let's get a snowball rolling here. Basically, it would be hard for anyone who is already into blogs and blogging not to enjoy this. So tell them - and point them either here or directly at jamesfraserwest if you want to tell them why.

And let me know if you think there are any communities besides history, 19th_century and medical_geeks where I could be plugging this.

For any or all of the above, my heartiest thanks and gratitude. I'm really excited about this project, and I think you'll see why when you take a look at what we've put online so far. Help me give it the kick off the ground it deserves, and I'll look forward to sharing the diary entries with you when they start in January!


( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
Dec. 5th, 2007 09:54 am (UTC)
Believe me, it is! I'm probably kind of biased, since the guy is a (distant) relative. But I've really fallen for him as I've read his diary entries and put together his LJ ready for the serialisation. I hope other people will feel the same once it starts going up.
Dec. 5th, 2007 09:16 am (UTC)
Thats my afternoon reading sorted then, I love both victorian and medical type history.

Have you plugged it on Facebook too? you can set up groups really easily on there and I'd join.
Dec. 5th, 2007 09:55 am (UTC)
Ooh, now that's an idea! Thanks - I shall have a proper look into that when I get a moment.
Dec. 5th, 2007 09:33 am (UTC)
Added - I'll have a good long read over lunch :)
Dec. 5th, 2007 09:55 am (UTC)
Thanks - hope you enjoy it. :-)
Dec. 5th, 2007 10:01 am (UTC)
Thats me added then.

By coincidence, some of the Markses ended up in Ladywood and Acock's Green- they're buried (I think) at Ladywood at a church that got destroyed in the Blitz- I'll have to dig out my notes and find out which one..
Dec. 5th, 2007 10:15 am (UTC)
Thanks! And I'm not surprised there is a link with your lot somewhere - your family is everywhere! ;-)
Dec. 5th, 2007 10:04 am (UTC)
I'm up for it.

I love the idea of your illustrious great great step grandfather starting a blog over a hundred years after his death.
Dec. 5th, 2007 10:16 am (UTC)

And I know - what would he have thought, I wonder? Actually, I bet he would have loved LJ if he'd had the chance. He was one of those people who is fascinated by everything, and I'm sure he would have been amazed at the possibilities.
Dec. 5th, 2007 10:32 am (UTC)
That is very cool indeed.

And I have to say - those are some damned impressive side-whiskers he's sporting...
Dec. 5th, 2007 10:36 am (UTC)
Believe me, those whiskers are nothing compared to this guy's!
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )

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