It all began in Florence

This is to let you know that I’ve all but completed writing my fifth novel, ‘It all began in Florence’. It’s a novel based on the extraordinary life of Ethel Smyth, one of the most brilliant of English composers.

She was witty, bright and composing was in her blood from an early age. She eventually overcame her father’s objections and went to study composing at the Leipzig Conservatorium. She was determined to see performances of her works and spent many months touring the concert halls and opera houses of Europe with this sole aim.

Ethel was unashamedly gay and fell in love with almost every woman she met. Her first real love was Lisl Herzogenberg, wife of the little known composer Heinrich von Herzogenberg who taught Ethel much about composition. So she was shocked when she felt she was falling a love with a man! The two of them, Ethel and Harry Brewster, collaborated over the writing of librettos for three of her operas.

She composed many works but they are rarely heard today. Part of the aim of the book is to promote her as a composer so as to encourage more of her music to be performed in the UK and abroad.

I am in the middle of a final edit of the novel and am grateful to all those first readers who so far have read the draft and commented. I hope to publish it in the New Year!

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