Virgina Woolf (1882-1941)
“Every secret of a writer’s soul, every experience of his life, every quality of his mind, is written large in his works.”
Over the past few months, I have been writing an author blog all about the talented James H. McKenzie, a performer and entertainer who lived between the years of 1862 and 1952. James wrote a 300+ page autobiography all about his life. His work included tales from his 72 years of showbiz, ranging from his work with the circus to his life with the gipsies. James also discussed his childhood, his life as an orphan and his experience moving from one home to another, from poverty to wealth and back.
Out of creating an author blog I have been allowed to learn all about a fantastic performer/ individual. I have learnt a lot about the world of entertainment, how the gipsies and the circus performers lived their lives back in the late 19th, early 20th century. I have discovered all about the freaks of the fairs, as well as the jesters of the circus. I got to learn about fortune tellers and famous performers of James’ time. The process has been fascinating, and I have learnt a lot from it.
Through writing my blog I feel I have brought the story of James to an audience that would never have heard of him otherwise. James’ story has not been read by many, but it is a story worth reading. James was incredible, and by writing about his life and some of his adventures, I have managed to show how truly incredible he was. Hopefully, by writing these blogs, I have inspired others to read more about him.
From taking part in this collaborative research project, I have learned how satisfying it can be to research and discover a forgotten individual of the past. I have found so much about history through only writing about one person, and it inspires me to learn more. One person had such a significant effect on so many peoples lives back in James’ time, and that realisation is beautiful how one person can bring so much to the world.
The use of blogging in this project was effective. Blogging meant I could discover and discuss so many different aspects of James’ life. In 8 short blogs, I have managed to discuss James’ life in the circus, with the gipsies, with his family, with his friends. I have also written on James’ financial status, how he worked hard for what he wanted and where he found work. By writing these blogs I have managed to show James to be more than a one-dimensional circus performer, I have been able to show his many layers. James was more than an orphan. He was more than a performer, more than just a good guy. He was all that and more. He was also an artist, a hard worker, and an animal lover and through these blogs, I have managed to convey that.
Using social media alongside my blog, to promote my writing and to discover other people’s, was beneficial. It meant I could share my work with a broad audience and in return have feedback on it. This then allowed me to improve my work and ensure I was writing the best blog possible. Through social media, I also got to read other peoples work. This not only inspired me to carry on writing on my individual, but it also got me to look into other peoples individuals.
From being part of the Writing Lives project, I will take away a passion for research. I learnt to enjoy researching through this project, and this will be a hobby I carry with me through life. I have discovered how to find information online and how one little piece of information can easily lead to the discovery of an even bigger piece of information.