Medieval manuscripts, Christianity, Fake News and Puppies, by Enid Richemont

Our wonderful British Library has been justifiably blogging about its fantastic collection of medieval manuscripts, and posting some of the images on Facebook. I've never seen them in so much close-up detail before, and they really are amazing - the details so exquisitely drawn by monks with no access to either great lighting, apart from what the sun or candles provided, or, of course, reading glasses. A Polish artist, whose name I can no longer find, has made an animation of one of them, and if you think about it, these manuscript illuminations are like very early comics, and perfect for animation.

The British Library's blog is at, very simply, "Medieval Manuscripts Blog", but the other site that's hugely interesting is at: It's an odd url, but go there and you will be richly rewarded. The animation I mentioned is of a Medieval nature story about the life of hedgehogs. It was believed that hedgehogs raided vineyards for grapes, shook them down (suspend your 21st Century commonsense here), turned on their backs and rolled over them, using their spikes like cocktail sticks, then scuttled back to their burrows and turned upside down, thus allowing their young to feed on the grapes. The animation is wonderful, with a commentary in Medieval Latin (subtitles in English). And people swallowed this story (but possibly not everybody). There's nothing new about False News, even if it involves hedgehogs.

Following on from the exquisitely-drawn dragons' tails etc, the book review I read later seemed very appropriate. It's a book by Robert Knapp called: The Dawn of Christianity: People and Gods in the Time of Magic and Miracles, and I'm going to get hold of it. It seems that Magic, Conjuring and Miracles were rife at the time of Christ. There was, indeed, a Samaritan called Simon who performed mighty acts of magic and who was considered a god, as was, apparently, the emperor Vespasian who - it was witnessed - healed the lame and the blind, which explains why magic was so frowned on by the early Christians as it represented direct competition. Well I'm sure that if you got into an argument about the life of hedgehogs with a Medieval person, you'd lose because well, hey! it HAS to be true - just look at the picture.

Did I already tell you that I was in the flying saucer business a long time ago? Together with an artist friend, we set up a gentle Flying Saucer company, gentle because Frisbees too enthusiastically aimed can occasionally cause damage. We called ours Wizbees, and sold them in Carnaby Street and the Design Centre, but unsurprisingly our British Flying Saucers did not make us rich beyond the dreams of avarice. This is one of them.

The film - ah yes, this has been referred to before. Exciting, yes, but given the rate at which the film business works (think snails on Valium) the excitement tends to fizzle out. If it ever reaches the screens, you are all invited to a virtual Red Carpet event, for which I insist you wear all your finest fake diamonds or even your real ones.

And so to dogs. A very troubled writer friend who shall be nameless has recently acquired a puppy whose presence is clearly transforming her life. I'm no good at doggie breeds, so I can't tell you which one, but it has silky ginger ears and a very sweet face. My daughter keeps urging me to get a dog - well maybe I should. I did write "THE DREAM DOG", after all. First published by Walker Books far too long ago, it's currently available as an ebook on (use .com if you're American) Read it armed with a box of tissues.


Anonymous said…
You mean hedgehogs don't forage for grapes that way? Ah me, another cherished illusion dashed. Yes, I saw reviews of the book about Magic and Christianity and thought it looked interesting. When is a miracle a religious experience and when is it a conjuring trick? A fine line... or all a question of spin, if that isn't too shocking a suggestion.
And I plead ignorance - what film? If one of your books is being optioned, fingers crossed it does eventually happen!
Ann Turnbull said…
I like the cover of your e-book. Is it a painting, or a photograph that's been altered? (I'm having trouble finding pictures of children for e-book covers.) I shall buy the e-book. The Robert Knapp book sounds interesting too.
Dennis Hamley said…
A fascinating, absorbing post, Enid. There's so much in it that I don't know where to start! Thanks.
Enid Richemont said…
Thanks Dennis. Ann T - it's a painting by illustrator Jennifer Eachus who also did the cover illustration for my first published children's novel THE TIME TREE. I made sure I had permission from all my cover illustrators to use their work on the re-published e-book versions which did put me a tiny bit ahead of the game when it came to cover art. Hope you enjoy the book.

Re- the film. ah the film. It's been on the back burner for a long long time, persistently pitched by a fantastic friend who has intimate dealings with the movie business, and now, it seems, finally, it's coming to pass, but at such a snail's pace that I might well snuff it before it hits the screens. It is with a prestigious company, though, and we do have a media lawyer and a professional screen writer who's been tweaking the screen play, so I may have you all on the red carpet one day... start brushing up the tiaras!
Sandra Horn said…
Oh, I believe in the film, Enid! Just hold on to that red carpet image!
Umberto Tosi said…
Fascinating! Go for it, Enid! Thanks for pointing to the British Library FB images. I wish I could see them up close, but enjoyed a look on FB along with BL's other collections.

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