Sunday, October 17, 2021

Setting The Scene—Launch of THE LAST TIME SHE DIED


Zoë Sharp

The location where a book is set always has a big influence on the plot. And if it doesn’t, then it probably should.

 

After all, they reckon there are only seven basic plot themes— overcoming the monster, rags to riches, the quest, voyage and return, comedy, tragedy, and rebirth. Everything else, we are told, is just a variation on those themes.

 

Nevertheless, even if you took exactly the same story idea and gave it to, say, nine or ten different authors who were noted for writing books set in very different parts of the world, can you imagine how different those stories would turn out to be?

 

The contrast between the same basic plotline, when it’s set in 1920s’ Bombay, Buenos Aires in 1945, modern-day Paris, or one of the deceptively idyllic islands of the Aegean would be enormous. I am no expert on Africa, but I can imagine that setting a tale in Ghana is utterly different to setting one in Botswana, or any of the East African nations.

 

Sometimes, the location heavily dictates the plot in the first place. I usually say that one of my Charlie Fox novels, FIRST DROP, could only have been set in Daytona Beach, Florida, during Spring Break. But if it had to be set in another city—in another country—over another weekend festival where teenagers were predominantly involved, then I wonder how the final book might have been changed by that.

 

Likewise, when I chose Appleby-in-Westmorland in Cumbria as the location for my second Lakes crime thrillerBONES IN THE RIVER—not simply because I was looking for another Lake District setting, but because of the Gypsy and Traveller gathering that has taken place there practically every year since the Middle Ages. And because it’s well known among the locals that the influx of forty or fifty thousand strangers into a small town is a very good time to settle old scores.


When I set out to write the first in my new mystery thriller series, THE LAST TIME SHE DIED, I had the storyline I wanted but it wasn’t tied to a particular location. I wanted a rural area where everybody knows everybody else’s business—or thinks they do. I wanted a relatively sparse population, but with urban conurbations nearby. I needed woodland and seclusion, but somewhere that was in reasonably easy reach of a seat of power.

 

In some ways, Scotland would have been ideal, but other writers—not least of which is our own Caro Ramsay, of course—have a far better claim on the area north of the border than I do. (Caro’s Anderson and Costello series has Glasgow sewn up.)

 

I decided on Derbyshire because it’s somewhere I’ve come to know well over the past few years, and the more I worked on the story, the better it seemed to fit into the landscape. It was an hour and a half from London by train—the kind of distance a Member of Parliament might be comfortable travelling for weekends in the country, for instance. There were plenty of steep drops to catch out the unwary, careless motorist, too. And plenty of space for certain manor houses to be within reach of the nearest village, but at the same time completely out of sight of their neighbours.

 

In some ways, the more restrictions I have when I’m working out a plot—and the more creative I have to be to work around them—the more fun it is to write. I’ve always liked to play with preconceptions. You think you know where the story is going, but you don’t.

 

In the case of THE LAST TIME SHE DIED, I wanted to start with an idea that might sound vaguely familiar, and then take it off in a more unexpected direction.

 

The book begins with a funeral. Family patriarch Gideon Fitzroy has died and his second wife Virginia, his stepchildren, and brother-in-law have gathered for the occasion. They think they know exactly what will happen next, as far as the division of Fitzroy’s estate is concerned.



 

Then somebody claiming to be a missing heir turns up. Blake—the daughter who vanished ten years previously and has been assumed dead.

 

For certain people, there is no ‘assumed’ about it. They know she’s dead. Because they killed her and hid the body on the night she disappeared…

 

Didn’t they?

 

So, who is this ‘imposter’, and what does she want? It can’t be as simple as the money, because Gideon Fitzroy made no provision in his will for the only child of his first marriage. (His second wife has read the document in question, and there’s absolutely no doubt about it.)

 

Is there?

 

But if the young woman now claiming to be Blake is indeed a fake, then how does she know so much about the vulnerable fifteen-year-old who went missing? Or the quirks of the family home? Not to mention the layout of the village where events take place. That village I mentioned, where there always seem to be secrets that are never quite as well buried as people hope.

 

Having spent the last six years or so living in a small village in the Derbyshire Peak District, I really wanted to set a book here—or somewhere very like it. I compromised by not actually naming the place, and I’ve played fast and loose with the geography for the location of the Fitzroys’ country estate, although not entirely. The lane exists, but the manor house called Claremont does not, which is a shame. I have a very clear picture of it in my head.

 

On a walk through local woodland I found a rutted track leading off the lane into an old plantation, with a stone gatepost at the latch end of the five-bar gate. The track continued on into the trees, leading to the edge of a gravel pit, long since fallen into disuse. It was eerie even in daylight.




But at night, in the dark, it would be perfect.

 

Bringing an outsider into this situation to ask awkward questions, and to stick his nose in where it isn’t wanted, is always a good way to stir things up a bit. Enter Detective Superintendent John Byron of the Met. Right from the start, it’s obvious that his role is not that of a straightforward mourner at the funeral. One of the youngest detectives to achieve such a rank, he’s now on a long leave of absence for reasons initially unspecified.

 

His interest in the life—and death—of Gideon Fitzroy seems anything but casual, so is he there on official business or not? And his interest in the young woman claiming to be Blake is something neither of them can quite define.

 

Anyone who’s read any of my books will know that I favour female characters who are… self-sufficient, shall we say. I’m beginning to hate the term ‘strong’ because it’s become almost meaningless. Strong as oppose to what—weak? And does anyone feel the need to define their male protagonists in such terms?

 

Male characters are ‘tough’ and ‘uncompromising’ if they’re likely to answer a difficult question with a punch or a bullet. (Charlie Fox can be a bit like that, but she’s usually referred to as ‘kick-ass’ or—my pet hate—‘feisty’. Either way, she will always try to talk her way out of a fight when she can manage it, and only stand her ground when there is no other option.)

 

So, if my female characters are strong then it’s because they refuse to rely on anyone else to dig them out of trouble, and occasionally this leads to a stubbornness that’s to their own detriment. In the case of the young woman who is claiming to be Blake, her inability to trust others is both an asset and a flaw.

 

One that might just get her killed.

 

The reason I’ve talked so much about THE LAST TIME SHE DIED is because it comes out on Wednesday, October 20. I hope you will forgive the BSP, but Wednesday is put up or shut up day, when I find out what people think of my take on this particular storyline, set in this particular area of the country, with this particular pairing.

 

I’m keeping my fingers, eyes, and legs crossed that readers like it. Because I’m already writing book two!

 

This week’s Word of the Week is querencia, a Spanish word that describes a place where we feel safe or at home, even if it isn’t where we actually live. It’s from where we draw our strength and inspiration.

 

THE LAST TIME SHE DIED is published by Bookouture in eBook, print, or audio format, on Wednesday, October 20. Or pre-order now.



Saturday, October 16, 2021

A Return to the Mani

 

Vathia, a Mani fortified settlement
Jeff--Saturday
 
Over the past two weeks, three friends separately asked me what I thought of the Mani region of Greece. Soon after that, I noticed several articles written about how desirable the area has become for tourists and those looking for a place to live the idyllic Greek life.  I mentioned that coincidence to my wife and she said, "I'd like to live there too."  Well, we're not moving any time soon, but with the apparent groundswell of attention the Mani is receiving, I decided it's time for me to repeat what I first wrote more than a decade ago about this magical region.  I'm sure the magic hasn't changed -- yet.
 
If Mystras (see this post) was the heart of Peloponnese history, Mani was its fist.  It is the mountain-spine middle peninsula on the trident tip of Greece’s most southern mainland part, on the same latitude as Sicily and pointing across the Mediterranean at Libya.  It is where ancient Spartans are said to have settled, and if you’re wise, do not quarrel with a Maniot who makes that claim.


Unlike much of the Peloponnese, Mani has no grand, established sites such as Mystras or Epidauros, but nor did ancient Sparta, whose inhabitants lived a warrior life disinterested in the great edifices so important to their northern neighbors and Athenians.  Besides, much of what Spartans built disappeared amid the region’s earthquakes and millennia of scavengers for building materials.

A Maniot fighter




What Mani does offer is a present day spiritual presence giving life to a history far grander than most legends.  Say “Mani” to a Greek and the usual response is “tough, proud, enduring people.”  Greece’s war of independence against the Turks began there in 1821, and though the history of the Peloponnese (and Greece as a whole) is largely one of occupation by foreign powers, the story goes that Mani was never occupied (essentially true), never paid taxes (at least not that much), was a refuge for the politically persecuted (willing to fight, I assume), and in some parts has not seen a piece of land sold to foreigners (tough to verify, though proudly claimed). 
Mesa Mani landscape

A few weeks ago [ed. note: make that eleven years] I was in the southwestern part of Mani, called Mesa (inner) Mani doing “inspirational” research for a new book.  Mesa Mani runs inland from the Ionian Sea, across arid, rugged land, onto the majestic, north-south Taygetos mountain range.   This is where ancient stone towers loom practically everywhere above the land, an ever-present reminder of a violent past. 

Mani tower
The generally four to five story tall towers (each a pyrgos in Greek), offered defensive positions to families against bandits, pirates, and foreign invaders.  But far more often they served to protect families from their neighbors, for Mani was a land where the concept of family vendetta was so deeply ingrained in its culture that rules existed on how, whom, and when not to reek vengeance against an offending family.  For example, those lucky enough to be a doctor or a priest were considered too valuable to the community to serve as a permissible target for vengeance by another family.

There are said to be 800 ancient towers still standing in Mani, some with roots back to the 13th Century.  That might explain why many find Maniots among the friendliest and most courteous people in Greece.  It’s probably a serendipitous, positive result of living in a society where to offend likely led to something far worse than a nasty letter to your boss.

Gerolimenas harbor with Hotel Kyrimai at point

Road to spiritual experience
I stayed in Gerolimenas, a picture-postcard harbor village of less than sixty inhabitants, at a world-class inn once a seafront warehouse for agricultural commerce between Peloponnese and the outside world.  The same family that built and ran the warehouse in the early 19th Century created and now runs the inn.  On the morning of my departure to Athens, the owner suggested I travel south a bit more, toward Cape Tenaro at the very tip of the peninsula, where the Ionian and Aegean seas meet.  “It is a spiritual experience that will take you back in time,” he said.  And so I did, toward I knew not what. 

Vathia

The photograph at the top of this post is not a painting, nor is the one to the left.  They are of the hillside village of Vathia.  It exists exactly as you see it.  As I stood there, contemplating a Harry Potter scenic against the region’s Mad Max-like history, a funeral procession passed out of Vathia directly behind me.  Mani has mesmerizing landscapes, charming places, and friendly people, yet I could not help but wonder if that funeral bore some relation to its fierce history.  I’m just cursed with such thoughts: I think murder is everywhere.

Pause for groaning to subside.

A final resting place

I never made it to the southern tip, for on the way there I passed the funeral procession.  Cars were parked along the side of the road, at the top of a steep, rocky incline.  Men below were carrying the coffin toward a mountain church along the edge of a cliff overlooking the sea.  I saw no cemetery, just the church.  The only other visible sign of life was up ahead, an isolated, distant taverna on a tiny beach.  I stopped there, but didn’t get out, just sat for a while.  I turned around and drove back toward Athens. I had no need to go further, I’d found my inspiration.  Besides, I’d be back; there were too many mysteries here to ignore—past, present, and future.  

Distant Cape Tenaro where the Ionian meets the Aegean

If you’re interested in more about this fascinating part of the world, I came across Mani: A Guide and History, on a website created by John Chapman.  He seems to have spent a large part of his life immersed in Mani’s history and ways.  Though I cannot vouch for the accuracy of his observations, nor do I dare challenge them, for in describing how vendetta vengeance could be taken against any family member of the perpetrator, he writes, “The only exception to this 'collective' form of vengeance was in the case of slander where vengeance had to be meted out on the perpetrator.” 

I’d prefer not to test that sort of thinking.
 
–Jeff

Friday, October 15, 2021

The downside of cancellation culture

                                                


                                      “I’m not scared to be alone because I have books to read.”

It’s a good quote, probably a notion that is so ingrained in writers and readers that we might not think it needs said. Who do you think said it?  Has the person who said it ever made you laugh? Has the person who said it become a cultural icon because their thoughts and words are so widespread? 

Maybe Aye and Maybe Naw as we would say.

A tea cosy on the lose

Many years ago, the local and regional council decided to be very PC and refuse certain activities on premises under public ownership.  And overall, that makes perfect sense. One of the things banned was racist language.  The police here can arrest you for racist language, so it also makes sense that using racist terms in any public building gets you thrown out. The issue is that the person making the complaint does not need to be the one on the receiving end, or even involved in the situation. They can just be walking past, catch a snippet and before you know it you are in the pokey.

During the time the library was being refurbed (public building!) our writers’ group had to relocate to the Town Hall. One of our writers was a white Scottish/ South African, writing her life story of growing up on a large farm outside Joburg, the story of the wildfires, the dogs on the farm, the old truck they used to travel about on; she didn’t know about apartheid until she went to school. When she was wee, she and the kids of the farm, black children, white children, anybody passing by,  all played together, and nobody thought any more of it.  Her family got into a lot of trouble for being supporters of the anti apartheid movement, more so as times moved on and violence began to erupt all around them. Some of the stories brought tears to the eyes. It was difficult to believe that this softly spoken elderly lady, in her cardigan and pearls, had known such dreadful atrocities at close hand.

And of course, her stories used the language that was used at that time.   

Somebody in the building complained that we were using racist language and we were told we were not welcome back. I tried to explain that we were a writers group, I tried to find out who complained.  To no avail. We were out on our ear.  We suspect it was the janitor. If we could have explained to him what was being said, I’m sure he would have been fine, but rules were rules, and that was that.

All that was a few years ago, and it’s much worse now.

It all kind of misses the point.

I’ve heard today that British Airways are ceasing to use gender specific terminology on their flights.

Mr Bond, shaken not stirred.

The Broccoli family have announced that James Bond character will remain with an actor with a XY chromosome.

The Scottish government has announced that 4-year-olds have the right to determine their own gender. At that age I spent my life wanting to be Lassie ( the dog in the films), so growing to be a human being was a bit of an issue for me. But then, reflecting, Lassie was one of the first transgender stars, being a laddie by anatomy.

Seems to me that cancel, culture is a very sensible idea that took a wrong turn somewhere.

At the moment, our little village is about to be swamped by COP 26 because we are so near the airport. Scotland is a small place, delegates are driving the length and breadth of the place, in expensive cars, to attend a conference on climate issues. 3, 500 of them.  That's 5% of the population of the city.  We don’t have enough hotel rooms so there’s now a cruise boat on the Clyde to provide accommodation. Drains and sewers are already being poked, checked, and sealed for security.  

Would it not have been better to have the zoom call to end all zoom calls!

But back to the point. The quote above was from Billy Connolly, a man who admitted that he would have been cancelled the minute he opened his mouth if he was starting out now.


Come on, you would stick this on your head, wouldn't you?

And that would be a shame. So many little nuggets of observational comedy. The wee Glasgow dog that looks like it’s just realised it’s five minutes late and needs to get a shift on.  The fact that Glasgow would be improved by a nuclear incident.  The notion that we need a faster national anthem to be any good at the Olympics. And of course, the one that has really passed into culture, especially crime writer culture in Scotland, the notion that you should never trust a man who, when left in a room alone with a tea cosy, doesn’t try it on as a hat.

 

Caro














Thursday, October 14, 2021

The mystery of Hamilton Naki

 Michael – Thursday


Hamilton Naki was an extraordinary man with an extraordinary story. Many black people in the Apartheid era in South Africa have extraordinary stories, but most of them get little attention. In Naki’s case, however, the story took on a life of its own. I’ve read a number of articles about him and versions of his story appeared in a variety of different media, including the prestigious New York Times and The Economist after his death. There were many reports at that time, some followed by retractions, and people are still chewing over the story today. There are recent posts about him on Facebook.

According to South African History Online, “Hamilton Naki was born in the small village of Ngcangane in the Eastern Cape in 1930. His family was poor and after completing primary school he left for Cape Town to look for employment.” (Here is a first mystery. Many reports describe him as “illiterate”, although the state of “Bantu education” in those days meant that completing primary school might not imply literacy as we would understand it.) 

He obtained a job as a gardener at the University of Cape Town (UCT) where his duties apparently involved mowing the grass of the tennis court near the medical school. From there he became involved with the laboratory animals, and when his spark was recognised, he was trained as a laboratory technician.

UCT was a centre of transplant research at that time, and a variety of organ transplants were carried out on animals in order to trial drugs and hone technique. Naki skill became well known and he carried out a variety of these operations as his knowledge and understanding grew. As South African History Online puts it: “Naki was one of four highly talented technicians in the research laboratory at the medical school, during the time that Dr Chris Barnard performed the first heart transplant on a human subject on the 03 December 1967.”

This is where the controversy starts. “Four decades after the first heart transplant took place at the Groote Schuur hospital in Cape Town, stories began to surface about the role that Naki played in the procedure. Chris Barnard apparently hinted at Naki's involvement shortly before his death in 2001, and Naki himself claimed, at one stage, to have been involved more directly in the ground breaking procedure.” It is true that Dr Barnard once said that if Naki had “had the opportunity”, he would have made a better surgeon than he was himself. From there the story grew. When he died in 2005, the New York Times reported:

“Hamilton Naki, a laborer who became a self-taught surgeon of such skill that Dr. Christiaan N. Barnard chose him to assist in the world's first human heart transplant in 1967, but whose contribution was kept secret for three decades because he was a black man in apartheid-era South Africa, died on May 29 at his home in Langa, near Cape Town.”

The argument is that since he was black it was illegal for him to operate on white patients.

So was Hamilton Naki a brilliant surgeon who was part of the first human heart transplant team, or was he a brilliant technician who assisted with the basic research? UCT recognized his contribution by awarding him an honorary degree of Master of Science in Medicine. A local hospital group in South Africa established a Hamilton Naki Clinical Scholarship. Cape Town has renamed a square after him. Would all this have happened if he were not part of the heart transplant team itself? It seems to me that even asking that question belittles the incredible achievement of a man who started with a rudimentary primary school education and ended up not only contributing to transplant research but also demonstrating surgical procedures and dissections to medical students at the university.

To me, while it is conceivable that Dr Barnard would ignore the Apartheid laws with the University’s connivance, I find it impossible to imagine that they would have allowed a person without formal qualifications to operate on a human patient.

We can celebrate what Hamilton Naki achieved and regret the opportunities he was denied. That is enough reason to honour him.


NEWS: 

JOIN US when Mandi Friedman grills us about Facets of Death. The young Kubu made a hit, and the new Kubu will continue his "younger" life.


                                                    7pm SA time, 6pm BST, 1pm EDT

SALE: And by the way, if you don't already have your own copy, Facets of Death is currently on sale in North America for only $1.99 in any format.



Wednesday, October 13, 2021

wine wellness and writing outside Bordeaux

 Pardonnez-moi! I've been more than a month in France, on deadline and with iffy wifi. Or effe weeefi as they say there. No excuse as my esteemed cohorts perform under the same pressures but I'll throw it out there anyway.

I co-taught a wine, wellness and writing workshop about thirty minutes outside Bordeaux. Amazing. These shots make it appear that all we did was eat - and we ate well - but it was all about the writing, too. 
My new favorite cheese.
Cafe chairs that are having a moment everywhere
A bed in the chateau. Not mine but our group did stay in two chateaux
Farewell dinner.
A morning session by the river.
This is the river outside my window.  I got mesmerized by the reflection, the morning mist caught in dawn's glow.
Fresh from the garden. Seriously.

Working on edits at the chateau. No wifi up here.

After two years at home this trip was a refresh and much needed reload of France.

I keep the river photo in place of honor to go to a 'happy place' !

How about you?

Cara - Tuesday




The Facebook/Instagram Dilemma

 Kwei--Wed





For two years, data scientist Francis Haugen, 37, was a project manager for Facebook until she left in May 2019. On October 3, 2021, she appeared on CBS's 60 Minutes as a whistleblower revealing the dark, murky dealings of Facebook and the social networking service it owns, Instagram. At issue are the algorithms that these entities use to engage its users for as long as possible, leading to distress and suicidal or near-suicidal acts. 

An algorithm is a process or set of rules to be followed in calculations or other problem-solving operations  and ending with a solution or goal. Algorithms are used in industry and medicine as a tool to know what needs to be done next. In medical training, we often studied eye-glazing, sleep-inducing diagnostic algorithms like the one shown below. Paradoxically, the more skilled a physician you were, the less you needed to rely on algorithms on paper because you knew it in your soul.





So then, what are algorithms on Facebook and Instagram? I question whether algorithm is not a euphemistically neutral word that conceals what is actually happening. When I read about FB/IG algorithms, I see quotes like

The new [2021] Instagram algorithm dictates the order of the posts that users see when they’re scrolling through their feed.

Based on specific signals, it prioritizes the best posts, pushing the most relevant ones toward the top and giving them the most visibility, while other content ends up being placed further down. 

To me, this isn't quite an algorithm, which gives options for different outcomes. This is a decree on what the outcome must always be: give the [best posts] the most visibility. An algorithm starts at the beginning and moves forward through various options to arrive at several possible outcomes. An Instagram algorithm starts at the end with a fixed outcome, keep as many eyes on the screen for the longest time.

According to Frances Haugen, FB/IG harms teenagers, the company knows it, but they've done nothing about it because all this is good for the bottom line. In addition, Facebook was aware that misinformation, hate speech, and divisive political speech on their apps were affecting societies around the world. This could include in 2018 when the Myanmar military used Facebook to launch a coup. Facebook knows that fear and anger are the most effective means of promoting engagement.  

Instagram, the more visual of the two platforms, has devastated teens all over the world. Instagram's own research finds thirteen percent of teen girls say Instagram makes thoughts of suicide worse, and seventeen percent stated that Instagram made eating disorders worse. FB/IG has been compared to the tactics of tobacco companies decades ago: They knew tobacco was bad, but they hid the evidence because it would reduce the bottom line.

Adults, too, using FB/IG may be aware of the way they are being manipulated. If you show interest, even casually, in a particular item, you will soon be targeted with ads of that product or variations of it.

There's something smug, smarmy, and arrogant about Facebook, not least because Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO, appears smug, smarmy and arrogant. This ick factor is much of the reason I'm considering boycotting Facebook and Instagram. I feel like I'm in bed with a slimy monster. I don't boycott companies only on the basis of self-interest; I boycott on principle whether it directly affects me or not.

If I withdraw, what might I lose? I do use these platforms to let people know what's new and what books are coming out, but newsletters do that too, and my closest Instagram followers (those who engage the most) are probably also on my email list.  

And lastly, what is the true value of Instagram followers for an author? For me, certainly not financial. There is no discernible correlation between number of followers and book sales. Is it something about being seen and remaining relevant and connected? Or ego?--there's a lot of tooting one's own horn on IG.





Monday, October 11, 2021

Alleged Lunatics' Friends Society

Annamaria on Monday



I learned about this organization from my beloved departed friend, Dr. Barbara Fass Leavy, champion of the literary merits of crime fiction.  (Snobs might have thought her a lunatic for her scholarly appreciation of mystery writers, but we don't have to go there!)

Barbara was a professor in the Literature Department of Queens University, but she was also the only ever non-MD  faculty member of the Department of Psychiatry of New York Hospital.  Having studied the history of mental health treatment, Barbara understood exactly how criminal lunatic asylums used to be.


The name of the 19th Century sounds kind of silly to our 21st Century ears.  But in the Great Britain of our fore-father Arthur Conan Doyle, being designated a lunatic frequently meant being condemned to various forms of torture, forced incarceration, being robbed of one's position in society and often of one's inheritance.

Beginning in 1774 with the Mad House, it became legal in Britain for private asylums to operate for profit.  They performed a service in taking over the care of mad relatives. Sometimes, no doubt, they solved real problems for families.  Trouble was nobody knew very much at all about how to care for such poor, benighted souls. Even at its most benign, the treatment given was pretty much useless.  Often it was beyond harsh, sometimes downright sadistic.


Besides which, much of time the people who were so confined were not mad at all. They were often only inconvenient for their families. An older brother who might have total control of the family fortune could be, with the help of a cooperative physician, put away.  Poof, with big brother out of the picture, the family fortune belonged to whoever paid off the doc.

This was the fate of some important people. For instance, Richard Paternoster was a civil servant who had a disagreement with his father over money. He wound up spending 41 days in Kensington House, a privately run asylum in London.  John Percival the son of a British Prime Minister was relegated to some of the most expensive private asylums in England, where his treatment was brutal. People who fell victim to this system were philanthropists, surgeons, manufacturers, members of the military.  Some were men. Some were women. Some might actually have been mentally ill. The treatment they got most likely made them worse.  Even if they were not tortured, they were effectively jailed without a trial.  A group of them banded together to try to change the law.


The Alleged Lunatics’ Friends  Society was founded by ex-victims of such miseries and their friends. Historians describe the organization as visionary, mostly because it was composed of private citizens who were appealing to Parliament to change the law. The group worked toward greater public awareness of the problem. As such, it might be considered a proto-NGO. The members held meetings and lectures.  They appealed to the politically powerful.  And tried to get the law changed.  But without political clout, they were not able to accomplish their goal. They used their own money until it ran out. Unfortunately, it was not until after most of the founding members died that their country decided to pay attention to the rights of people deemed lunatics. Those who were mentally ill.  And those whose families decided to declare them such and get them out of the way.



The “lunatics” plea for a sane approach to dealing with this societal problem still echoes down the centuries.