Monday, July 24, 2017

Researching a new talk: Monsignor R. H. Benson

Sadly this subject DID prove too obscure - I have found out the talk is not going ahead :-(  But keep an eye out - I will attempt to resurrect it in some other form in the future. And I have become so absorbed I am seriously considering doing a book....

One of the ways I love best to explore my creativity, learn new things and force myself to work hard is to give public talks. On Friday I am giving a two hour talk on Monsignor Robert Hugh Benson, an admittedly obscure subject, and it has been tough getting people to book in. But, as with most obscure subjects, it is absolutely fascinating, and I have been loving the research.

My research always begins at home, and not online. I have a substantial personal library which I have been building since I was 17 years old, so for almost any subject I could prepare a talk just using the resources I have on my own bookshelves. This morning I am looking up tidbits about R. H. Benson in Geoffrey Palmer and Noel Lloyd's E. F. Benson as He Was.

This is a charming book, with a smattering of facts about baby brother Hugh's life. I will see if they are sufficiently interesting to include in my presentation, or to flesh out a point I have already made in what I have written so far.

My next step is always the NSW State Library.

I love being there, for a start, and there is something about being stuck in the reading room that makes you work really hard.

My research notes from a gorgeous 70s biography of Monsignor Benson written by a nun. I didn't even know about this book until I visited the State Library of NSW

It's also handy because I can go off on a research tangent.

A list of new research directions I plan to follow up. I note these down as I discover them in other books. As you can see, I went in principally to research Monsignor Benson and ended up looking into upcoming talks about Dickens and Kenneth Grahame

I can also work on multiple projects while I am there, filling up pages in my daybook with notes and research for future projects as well as the one I am working on. I actually have to limit myself with my library visits, as I could easily spend my entire time there going down research rabbit holes.

And finally it's ebooks and the net, never my favourite place to research, though perfect for finding out essential last-minute information.

And it's also cheap and convenient. So, instead of going to abebooks and ordering an Edwardian hardcover and waiting 2-6 weeks for it to arrive from Maine or Ireland, I can get a free ebook of R. H. Benson's famous dystopia Lord of the World from Project Gutenberg and start reading and highlighting relevant sections.

I am also reading his book on Lourdes, and the brilliant and quite eccentric biography of Mary Benson, his mother, As Good as God, As Clever as the Devil.