Yesterday (Friday) I had a quick chat with some of the fire safety guys at the Houses of Parliament. They are all ex-firemen so they really know their stuff. I wanted to make sure I understood the technical details of the descriptions of the fire from contemporary newspapers and other sources I have been working on. We discussed 6 or 7 extracts from the book which I had queries about. Now I know much more about pyrolysis, flashover, the reasons why flames are different colours, and the melting points of different metals. All fascinating. Today (Saturday) I spent an hour in the Bodleian Library checking some references in various online databases of 19th century periodicals and newspapers – a real boon for researchers, and something it would have been impossible to cover twenty years ago.
About Caroline Shenton
Dr Caroline Shenton is an archivist and historian. She was formerly Director of the Parliamentary Archives in London, and before that was a senior archivist at the National Archives. Her book The Day Parliament Burned Down won the Political Book of the Year Award in 2013 and Mary Beard called it 'microhistory at its absolute best' while Dan Jones considered it 'glorious'. Its acclaimed sequel, Mr Barryís War, about the rebuilding of the Palace of Westminster, was a Book of the Year in 2016 for The Daily Telegraph and BBC History Magazine and was described by Lucy Worsley as 'a real jewel, finely wrought and beautiful'. During 2017 Caroline was Political Writer in Residence at Gladstone's Library.