Getting my Research into Print

This post comes from Simon Carpenter, who completed an MA by Research in History at the University of Gloucestershire in 2018.

Sir Herbert Brewer

On the face of it, trying to interest journals in the life and work of a late nineteenth century provincial cathedral organist would appear to be an uphill task. But when I first approached the University of Gloucestershire with the idea of researching the career of Herbert Brewer, I was convinced that I had found a fresh angle that would generate significant interest. Brewer was the Gloucester Cathedral organist between 1896 and 1928, and as was typical of the time, he had a number of ‘articled’ pupils. These were aspiring professional musicians who undertook to be trained by an established and qualified professional on a one to one basis. The difference with Brewer, however, was that three of his pupils were some of the 20th century’s cultural icons: Ivor Gurney, Herbert Howells and Ivor Novello. The focus of my MA thesis was to examine Brewer’s relationship with them – from his perspective. This had never been done before (I had checked!).

That leads me to my first piece of advice about getting research into print. Have a total belief that what you are researching is fresh, exciting and worth learning about. If you believe in something yourself, as you research you will find people with a similar passion, including editors of journals.

As soon as I started my MA by Research at the University I was on the lookout for likely publishing outlets (my second piece of advice). My first thought was the Journal of the Royal Historical Society, but I was never convinced that that was going to happen. However, through using the archive of the Royal College of Organists, they approached me to write for their journal. That was the breakthrough. Then a chance Twitter conversation with one of the soloists of a concert I was singing in led me to find out that she was the newsletter editor of the British Association of Local History (BALH), and that she would be interested in an item on Brewer in their newsletter. This led to the two other commissions I have so far received. The editor of the BALH Journal (peer reviewed) then got in touch and asked if I would like to write for him. Furthermore, the editor of the Ivor Gurney Society saw the BALH newsletter item and asked if I would do the same for their journal.

And the story continues – with an article for Cotswold Life and a weekend of musical events at Gloucester Cathedral in the diary for next year, and a spot at the Gloucester History Festival in September 2020.

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