About 4 years ago the museum was contacted by an American author who was working on a book about the lives of sisters, Louise and Ida Cook. In the 1930s the sisters had helped to rescue a large number of Jewish people from Nazi Germany and Austria. The author, Isabel Vincent, knew that Louise and Ida had lived in Alnwick for part of their childhood, as Ida includes a paragraph about their time in Alnwick in her own autobiographical account, We Followed Our Stars.
Isabel wanted to know if we had any more information and indeed we had. The sisters arrived in Alnwick aged 10 and 8 in 1912 and from our records of their enrolments at The Duchess’s School at that time, and a collection of school magazines I was able to send Isabel lots of information. For example, that they lived at Lovaine House on Percy Terrace, that Louise failed music exams due to nerves (yet 20 years later she was risking her life in Nazi Germany), and that Ida, who became a very successful romantic novelist (over 100 books published), submitted a 3 page hand-written romantic story to the school magazine in 1919. To the best of my knowledge the only copy of this is in our collection. The sisters moved back to London with their parents in 1919, but we know from the school magazines and other sources that they maintained contact and friendships with school mates for the rest of their lives.
The book was pretty much completed and due to be published early in 2020 but then Covid happened and it has only just been published in the USA, and should be published in the UK in November. Isabel has very kindly sent me a copy and it is very satisfying to see that a lot of the material that I sent her is included. While Ida Cook’s autobiography included one paragraph about their lives in Alnwick, there are now two and a half pages! On a personal level I was hoping that I would get a brief acknowledgement but was very pleasantly surprised to be given a whole paragraph of thanks which begins ‘In Northumberland, I owe a great debt of thanks to Michael Grant, a volunteer archivist at the Bailiffgate Museum in Alnwick….’
Please Note: The Museum shop will be getting in copies of the book as soon as it is available in the UK. If you want to leave your details with firstname.lastname@example.org, saying you are interested we will notify you as soon as it is available. We can mail it to you in the UK or you can collect and save the postage.