As we know ladies and gentlemen the lovely Amanda Havery Purse has just released her next book 'The Cutbush Connections: In Flowers, Blood and the Ripper case ' and I'm pleased to announce she has sent me this wonderful interview introducing us to the book
You have just published your third book in your ‘ lives of policemen that had some involvement in the Jack the Ripper case of 1888’ series.
Can you tell us why you decided to call this series of books that title?
It is a bit of a long title for a series isn’t it?
Well I suppose it is the unofficial title for the collection of books I have decided to write, but I had used that title in my ‘Research Update’ posts on social media before I had a title for my next books and I guess it just stuck.
You write a lot of ‘Research Update’ posts on social media, why is this?
I do realise I write books in perhaps a different way to what some people might be expecting. Instead of writing a generally excepted textbook, I suppose you could say I write research project books. Whereas, textbooks are the result of a research project the author has taken alone, the outcome of which is then told to the reader. My research project books are for the reader to feel that they are with me, every step of the way on the projects. Hopefully, the readers feel that we are learning the subject together, we are questioning the information together, that I am not telling them how it is but allowing them to find out for themselves. I often, even go as far as to describe the buildings we need to visit for the research to hopefully make the reader feel as they are there also, that they are walking through the doors themselves. I hope by doing this, the reader feels as if we are on a level par with one and other. The ‘Research Update’ posts are an extension to that. They have proven to be quite popular, going on the messages I get and I am glad most people are liking this style of writing as I do realise this might not be to everyone’s tastes.
Who would you say is your aimed audience?
Well, I hope that my books are accessible to all, no matter what background, what knowledge or what their reasoning for reading of this subject is. Ideally though, I hope to aim for the future generation, which is perhaps why I write in a open and down to earth way. My reasoning for this is because I have always believed that history is only kept alive if we continue to talk about it and if we don’t embrace future people into this subject, at some point there will be none of us left to resume the conversations. History will fade and so sadly, will the people within that history. The thought of that happening, upsets me gravely as I do get, shall we say, emotionally involved in the lives of the people I research.
However, I also believe for future generations to take on this task, we have to play fair with them. We shouldn't talk down to them, our first port of call should not be highlighting what we know or how much we know it. This is because, in reality, we are all in the same boat, we are all learning together, no body is better than anyone else and through our love for history, we should all come together to help each other out.
Why did you decide to title your latest book, The Cutbush Connections: In Flowers, In Blood and In the Ripper Case?
Generally, I hope the readers will think that the title means Charles Henry Cutbush’s connections to flowers (of which there are many), his connections to blood ties (his family) and his connections to the Jack the Ripper case. There will of course be much more to learn of Charles Henry Cutbush but I suppose they are the three main subtitles within his story.
You just said ‘generally’, is there another meaning to the title?
Not many people know this, but I will share this with you... In all of my book covers, except Jack and Old Jewry: The City of London Policemen who Hunted the Ripper, there is something personal to me in them... It maybe something small, it maybe something perhaps not instantly noticeable but there is something there. The reasons I did this were because: 1, I am naturally a cryptic person, I love codes and riddles and 2, I am not a secretive person, however, I don’t show myself off or share something personal about myself on a regular basis. So in my book covers I am doing something I don’t normally do, I am sharing a part of myself with the reader, almost as a thank you for wanting to read my words and share with me the projects we go on together. With this book however, the part of myself I am sharing is the word ‘Connections’. Yes you are meant to think that word means Charles Henry’s connections to things, but this word has a another meaning. It means my own connections to the Charles Henry Cutbush’s story, amazing as I do realise, that first sounds.
What do you mean by that?
I had always known of a few connections Charles Henry Cutbush's story has to my own life from the bits and pieces I had picked up along the way of my twenty five years of studying this case.
However, I could never have even dreamed of how many connections there actually was until after researching him. If anyone has been following my posts or know me, they would know that I got emotionally attached to Inspector Edmund John James Reid in my last book, Inspector Reid: The Real Ripper Street. I feel very strongly that this man should have a headstone, hence why the book is highlighting the need for the headstone, while also raising funds for it...
However, if you thought I got emotionally attached to that, it has nothing on this next book and this policeman... Sometimes, I felt very odd to be writing about events within his story because of these connections and in one or two occasions I felt as if I was in the twilight zone and couldn’t quite believe what I was writing. I believe a few people who know me very well, might be able to sense moments that may have an connection to myself. However, I don’t believe everyone will pick up on every connection and as this is not about myself, but about Charles Henry, I haven’t blatantly come out with the connections within book to myself. However saying that, I have also got to state, that the clues are most definitely there...
Is this the only reason, you decided to write a book on Charles Henry Cutbush?
Once again, like with Inspector Reid, I didn’t plan to write a book solely on Charles Henry Cutbush. He had popped briefly on my radar as I was writing another book, which hopefully I can return to now, but who knows how many more policemen will need an entire book on them!
However, it had always bothered me, that Charles Henry seemed, to me at least, to be mentioned for his suggested connections to a Jack the Ripper suspect or because of the questions surrounding his sudden and perhaps shocking death, however what about the man behind the suggestions and opinions? The man behind the career? The life before the death? Those questions pushed me on to complete a whole book on him, I hope I have done something to come close to answering those questions.
So with Jack and Old Jewry: The City of London Policemen who Hunted the Ripper being about the thirty or so policemen and doctors who attended the murder scene of Catherine Eddowes and of course, the life of Catherine Eddowes herself, Inspector Reid: The Real Ripper Street being about…Inspector Reid and The Cutbush Connections, being about Charles Henry Cutbush, who is next on your list?
If I stick to the original plan, which, I am hoping to, it should be very interesting. I have already been in contact with family members for the next book after The Cutbush Connections and can even trace a person’s family tree down to a twenty something year old, living in the UK.
This is a marvellous thing and just proves history is still very much alive, if we only know where to look.