Dawn Robertson – “Local History – a guide to research and publishing”

Posted 31st May 2012 by Val Kendall
Newsletter Vol: 100, May 2012

At the January meeting of the Appleby-in-Westmorland Society, Dawn Robertson of local publishing company Hayloft was thanked for bringing forward her talk on researching and publishing local history.

Her audience in the Public Hall heard how, via various posts in research and journalism, she had developed her skills both as author and publisher. She emphasised that in both disciplines no stone should be left unturned and no detailed left unchecked. Tapes, books, old photographs, records of the mining and railway industries, local archives, parish registers, the census, folklore and even wills should be studied to build an accurate picture for present and future generations. Oral history, particularly family history, remained important. Dawn paid tribute to the wealth of knowledge she had gained from her grandfather’s reminiscences. She was pleased, as was her audience, that attitudes had changed from the time when the father of one of her great great aunts had burned her writings because ‘Women don’t write books’. Returning to more modern times, Dawn was clear in her belief that the Kindle, despite some advantages, would not supplant books ‘because you don’t need batteries for a book’. She also gave her views on the impact of Amazon on independent bookshops and publishers and discussed other pitfalls for the unwary publisher, including the laws of libel. The need to meticulously check manuscripts for errors of grammar and surprisingly basic spelling would be ever-present.