Julia Margaret Cameron championed errors. Her prints were contact prints, and her photographs made on glass. Starting out as a photographer at the age of 48, she used a coal-bunker for a darkroom, and a hen house as her studio.
An early reader of Silver and Salt wrote to me yesterday: ‘I would like to go to Pennerton.’
‘So would I!’ I wrote back, explaining there was no such place. The sprawling country house in Kent, where much of the novel is set, is made of fragments of memories of houses I’ve visited in my life. One New Year in my 20’s, I sang a concert in London and took a train to Somerset. I walked in the Quantocks every day of the week I was there. Happening upon Alfoxton House, one-time home to William and Dorothy Wordsworth, I found its gardens largely neglected.
One August in a Peloponnesian olive grove, I found this small, heavyish object hidden in the dry grass. I’ve no idea how long it had lain there; whether it was days, or years. The olive grove is where Ruthie and Vinny Hollingbourne live in Silver and Salt. When they were very young, their father built…