[DWJ] News from the archive - The Spellcoats

Charlie Butler charles.hannibal at gmail.com
Thu May 19 05:44:45 EDT 2011

Fascinating - do keep them coming, Hannah!


On 19 May 2011 10:30, Hannah Green <hannah.green at sevenstories.org.uk> wrote:

> I've started into cataloguing Diana's drafts for her published works,
> beginning with the Dalemark series, and have found some interesting early
> material relating to The Spellcoats.
> The archive contains a complete manuscript draft of The Spellcoats which is
> substantially the same as the published book in terms of plot and
> characterisation, although there are some differences in the structure and
> ordering of some passages, and of course differences in description where
> passages have been refined in the rewriting process.
> However, alongside this complete manuscript is a fragment of what appears
> to be an early attempt at the story.  This fragment places the focus on Hern
> as the protagonist, rather than Tanaqui - the opening reads "Hern loved the
> River.  He did not know how much, until it was decreed he should not go near
> it."  There is no war against the Heathen which takes Closta and Gull away
> from home; indeed, Gull does not appear at all - the family consists of
> Closta (he starts out as Closti, but mid-way through the fragment becomes
> Closta), Robin, Hern, Tanaqui and Duck. Rather, when cows and children begin
> dying from the River fever, Closta is blamed and is eventually arrested and
> imprisoned in the schoolhouse.  The children find themselves besieged by the
> villagers in their own house, and the story breaks off, after 3 chapters,
> with the children wondering how they are going to rescue their father.  The
> fragment is only 18 pages long, which suggests Diana decided fairly quickly
> that she didn't like the direction the story was taking and started again.
>  It also contains a few more clues as to the identity and role of the
> Undying Ones than is found in the early chapters of the published book.
> A fascinating insight into Diana's creative process and, I'm sure, the
> first of many!
> Hannah Green
> Archivist
> Seven Stories, the Centre for Children's Books
> Design Works, William Street, Felling, Gateshead, Tyne and Wear NE10 0JP
> Tel. 01914952707
> E-mail: hannah.green at sevenstories.org.uk<mailto:
> hannah.green at sevenstories.org.uk>
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Website: www.charlesbutler.co.uk
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