Hello all!

I’m now two thirds of the way through the first draft of my novel – very exciting! For those who don’t know, my novel is an epic drama based on my Malayan family’s story. So although it’s fiction, the underlying story is true. It starts in Ipoh with a Nyonya matriarch (a character based on my great grandmother), then moves to London with the matriarch’s eldest son (a character based on my grandfather) who arrives in London in the 1920s for studies.

As part of my research, I managed to track down my grandfather’s former college. The picture below is what it must have looked like when he was there.0256

The Battersea Polytechnic Institute is no longer around, but its archived materials are held by the Battersea Library, where I spent the whole day this past Wednesday (October 19th), trawling through hand-written ledgers of every student on every course in the 1920s, as well as examination lists from 1924! What a thrill it was to see my grandfather’s name…I thought of how amazing it was that my grandfather should have arrived on these shores to a very different Britain, and here was I, his grand-daughter, a century later, digging through records which showed exactly which examinations he failed (!)

The records were a hodge-podge…student rolls, financial ledgers, prospectuses, student magazines…many bound in vellum so old, tiny particles of colour fell off when the volumes were placed on the special cushion onto which they had to rest while I browsed through. There were times I held my breath, lest my touch proved too much for these tomes that had lain dormant over the years. I loved looking at the photographs especially – men in white shirts and ties and suits, stiff in their starches even on the golf course, and women with so many layers and frills, it was astonishing they could move. All in, a great look into a bygone time, thanks to the wonderful heritage service offered by Battersea Library.

10 Comments

Filed under Research

10 responses to “Hello all!

  1. Svetlana

    Well done – will be following your journey virtually as well as non-virtually :0)

  2. Ray Siak

    Very thorough research thru the library. Glad that you could your grandfather’s name and did you see his picture.

  3. Roslyn

    Hah! Old Grand-father Chin (?), sitting in class at Battersea Polytechnic Institute would be proud to know that his grand-daughter Clear Jade would one day pass every exam set before her. I look forward to reading more …

  4. Eddy Chin

    Well done, Selina!
    Looking forward to more sneaks of the suspenseful kind before you take things to the printers!

    Eddy Chin

    • Thanks for tour kind words, it’ll be a while before publication. Could you make sure Uncle Yoong Chong knows how to open his link??!! I think he would be interested to read about his father’s old college.

  5. Angeline Chin

    Hi Selina,
    Really looking forward to reading your book!
    I hope your Uncle Y Fee knows how to open his link too!!
    Angeline

    • Hi there, No he doesn’t! He gave the excuse that his work place doesn’t allow access to blogs! BTW you can follow my blog so that you’ll be notified every time there’s an update. Hope you’re well, and I have a good laugh every time I receive your circulars 🙂 Take care, Selina

  6. Aunt mei leng

    Hi Selina,

    Thank you for taking me along your amazing journey– of our peranakan heritage.Am with you in mind and soul, all the way

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