Biographical Research at the UCL Special Collections
My dance along the J.S.Haldane trail took me down the Hampstead Road to the UCL Special Collections today. Upstairs in an apparent office block they manage to create that comforting library fustiness. Orwell's archives are there. As are the papers of John Burdon-Sanderson.
My dance is growing wider. Burdon-Sanderson was the uncle of my J.S.Haldane, and was the professor over him in his early years working at Oxford. A trawl through many boxes found a few personal gems, the uncle writing to the mother about my character.
It's an intriguing process, this one of biographcial research. The story comes in little pieces, to be fitted into some coherent whole along the way. Today I found characters reflecting from great age, and also found them when they were young. I saw generational patterns, those who would become venerable and then die also passing through the first flush of romance, work and parenthood. It's all very endearing.