Mike in Finland

Saturday, 17 December 2011

The Finn´s Tale available in a Kindle version

My novel, The Finn´s Tale, is now available from Amazon in a Kindle version. I don´t have a Kindle reader myself yet, but I´m seriously thinking about getting one. There´s also a `Look inside the book´ feature on the novel´s Amazon page. I think this is such a good idea. It gives you the chance to read the opening of a book that you are interested in but not sure that you would really want to buy and read. I often use the feature when it´s available. For The Finn´s Tale the excerpt that you can read on the Amazon page is almost the whole of the first two chapters. I think it gives a good idea of what the book´s about, although those first two chapters are set in America, before Len travels to Finland. The atmosphere changes a lot once he arrives in the country. Well, I guess there´s only one way to find out what that part is like.

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Poetry Reading

It´s more than a month ago now, that I gave a reading from my collection, Midas Touch, at The Poetry Cafe, with fellow Ward Wood poets, Peter Phillips and David Cooke. At last, I´ve got round to posting a report and a couple of pictures from the event on my blog.

The Poetry Cafe is a great venue, very cosy and intimate and we had an appreciative audience that comfortably filled the basement of the cafe. Peter read poems from his collection, No School Tie, as well as some others.

Cover pciture for No School Tie Link to shop

Some of his poems were wonderfully comic and others very sensitive, and some were both at once. I can highly recommend this collection.

David read poems from a variety of publications: magazines and earlier collections, including some poignant memories of family members.

We each did a 15-minute slot, followed by poets from the floor. A very pleasant evening. Thanks to Adele Ward for organising and hosting the event with her customary flair and charm.

Here I am, doing my bit. One of the poems I read was `Things´. I have included the text of the poem, just in case any readers of my blog don´t know it, to give you a flavour of the evening.


There are these things:
one half of a double door stands ajar,

through the frosted pane of its closed partner
the curtain´s blue stain visible on the wall.

The empty floor echoes to no footfall.
A mirror reflects a key on the hallstand.

These things are troubled -
they know exactly what´s happened.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Reading at The Poetry Cafe

My next reading event will be with fellow poets, Peter Phillips and David Cooke, at The Poetry Cafe at 22 Betterton Street in Covent Garden, London on Saturday 22 October. I´ll be reading from my recently published Ward Wood collection, Midas Touch. Doors open at 6.30 and the reading begins at 7 p.m.

The Poetry Cafe has a great selection of snacks, light meals and drinks and the basement room where readings are held is really cosy.

Cover of Midas touch, link to shop

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Ward Wood authors in Dublin

I had a terrific time in Dublin doing readings with three other Ward Wood writers, Sue Guiney, Shauna Gilligan and Noel Duffy, at the Irish Writers´ Centre on Friday 16 September and then at The Twisted Pepper cafe the next afternoon. We had lovely audiences at both events and it was a real pleasure to chat with them after the readings and hear their views on our work and other literary matters. The following photos are from the event at The Irish Writers´ Centre and you can see just how perfect it is a venue for a reading.

Shauna reading from her forthcoming novel, Happiness comes from Nowhere.

Sue reading from A Clash of Innocents and Her Life Collected.

Noel reading from In the Library of Lost Objects and Our Friends Electric.

I read from Midas Touch and The Finn´s Tale.

Some members of the audience at the book table, browsing the books for sale and enjoying a glass of wine or orange juice and a chat. Thanks to Shauna and Noel for arranging and hosting the event and for taking the photographs.

My next reading date will be in London on 22 October when I will be reading at The Poetry Cafe in Betterton Street, Covent Garden with Peter Phillips and David Cooke.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Readings in Dublin

I´m really excited to be taking part in two readings in Dublin over the coming weekend. They both promise to be great events. I´m looking forward to reading with other Ward Wood authors and this will be the first time that we´ve all read together. It would be great to meet any readers of my blog who are able to get there.

Friday 16th September:
This will be a combined prose and poetry event with Sue Guiney reading from her novel, A Clash of Innocents and poetry collection, Her Life Collected, Shauna Gilligan reading from her forthcoming short story collection, Red Girl, Noel Duffy reading from his novellas, The Return Journey & Our Friends Electric, and his poetry collection, In The Library of Lost Objects. I´ll be reading from my novel, The Finn´s Tale, and my poetry collection, Midas Touch.

The venue is the Irish Writers´ Centre, Parnell Square, Dublin. The reading begins at 18.30. but we´ll be there half an hour before to meet the audience and there will be a question time after the readings. Refreshments will be served and books will be on sale. Entry is free.

Saturday 17th September:
A poetry reading with Sue Guiney at The Twisted Pepper cafe (best coffee in Dublin, I´m reliably informed) at 54, Middle Abbey Street. Sue´s reading from Her Life Collected and I´m reading from Midas Touch. This will be an afternoon event, start time 15.00.

Monday, 29 August 2011


For people living in or near Tampere; Akateeminen Kirjakaupa has sold out of The Finn´s Tale, but I believe they are getting copies from other branches in Finland and / or re-ordering from Britain. The staff, of course, will be able to tell you the exact situation. The last time I checked, there were still copies in Suomalainen Kirjakauppa.

The book is also available from the publisher´s website:

or from The Book Depository:

For those planning to join my reading groups in Tampere Työväenopisto this autumn, I will bring copies of the book to the first class for purchase.

So the bottom line is: don´t panic! The book is available.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

London Sights 6

Strolling Along The South Bank

We spent a few days in London during July and walked along the South Bank between the Royal Festival Hall and Tower Bridge. It´s one of my favourite areas in central London. There are often street performers along the esplanade and on a sunny day the atmosphere is lovely.
This year they had created a seaside beach display which included a stretch of sand and some traditional beach huts. I remember huts like those from my childhood holidays in Swanage. These ones had been painted in bright and interesting designs, though. There were different displays inside each hut, but they weren´t open when we were there as we arrived quite early.

There was even an ice-cream van, but it, too, had not opened for the day....

.... and an old wrecked rowing boat.

Further along the South Bank, getting close to Tower Bridge, there was a photograph display. There´s been a display in the same place for the last two or three summers at least and I imagine it must be a regular feature. The pictures are always very high quality and the themes are interesting. This one illustrated social customs of cultures from all over the world.

And, of course, we ate very well during our stay. This is a spectacularly good restaurant in Soho, Randall and Aubin. They specialise in seafood. The atmosphere was very informal and the staff were very friendly and helpful, and the food was seriously good.

And look what we saw in an underground railway station: a poster advertising Sofi Oksanen´s novel, Purge. I guess it must be selling well.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Photos from the poetry reading

Here are some pictures from the poetry reading in Swiss Cottage library on 15 July. The event was part of the Friday Night Writers series:

Me in full flow.

A pause while I find the next poem to read.

Peter Daniels talking with a member of the audience. Unfortunately, this one is rather dark.

Here I am during the interval, chatting with a member of the audience at the `books for sale´ desk.

Adele Ward, organiser of the Friday Night Writers series, one of the partners of Ward Wood Publishing, and my intrepid editor, serving wine to members of the audience. Listening to poetry is thirsty work! You probably already knew that.

Part of the audience. It was a really good turnout. Peter Daniels is on the left in the front row.

It was a great evening, and now I´m looking forward to my next gig, or gigs I should say: two readings in Dublin with other Ward Wood writers on Friday 16 September at the Irish Writers´ Centre and on Saturday 17 September at The Twisted Pepper cafe. Full details are listed below and I´ll post confirmation of times and addresses closer to the day. If you´re in or near Dublin, I´d love to see you there.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

A quick update.....and the promise of more

I´m just back from my travels, including reading at Swiss Cottage library alongside Peter Daniels, and trying to clear the backlog of emails and other tasks that have collected while I´ve been away. I´ll be posting several articles over the coming days, with information, news and updates, including some photos from the Swiss Cottage event.

In the meantime, here´s the link to the article that appeared in the newspaper Tamperelainen last month, from the papers website. It´s in Finnish, which is not surprising, really. I hope Finnish readers of my blog find it interesting and non-Finnish can maybe use the google translator:

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

My Forthcoming Reading Events

Here´s the latest news about my forthcoming readings, with dates and venues:

Friday 15th July: I´ll be reading in the art gallery of Swiss Cottage library again. This will be a poetry event with fellow-poet, Peter Daniels, heading the programme. Peter has recently published a pamphlet with Happenstance Press called Mr Luczinski Makes a Move. Peter´s well known on the London poetry scene and his new pamphlet contains several prize-winning poems, including the winning poem in the Times Literary Supplement competition, 2010. I´m honoured to be reading with him. I´ll be reading from my collection, Midas Touch, which was published by Ward Wood Publishing last year. Doors open at 18.00 and the reading begins at 18.30. The library address is: 88, Avenue Road, London NW3.

Friday 16th September: I´m reading with fellow Ward Wood authors, Sue Guiney, Shauna Gilligan* and Noel Duffy, at the Irish Writers´ Centre, Parnell Square, Dublin. Reading begins at 18.30. I´m not sure yet if this will be a poetry or prose event, or possibly a mixture. The readings will be followed by a question time. I´ll post more exact details closer to the time.

Saturday 17th September: With Sue, Shauna* and Noel again, we´re reading at The Twisted Pepper cafe (best coffee in Dublin, I´m reliably informed) at 54, Middle Abbey Street. This will be an afternoon event, start time 15.00.

*I´ve added Shauna Gilligan to the list of Ward Wood writers at these two Dublin events. Her short story collection, The Red Girl, is due next February.

Saturday 22nd October: I´m reading at the Poetry Society´s venue, The Poetry Cafe, at 22, Betterton Street, Covent Garden, London WC2. This will be an evening od readings by Ward Wood Publishing poets. I will be reading poems from Midas Touch. I don´t know exactly which other poets will be reading there, but I´ll post more details later.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Minna Canth Plays from Aspasia Books

Good news for lovers of Finnish literature in English: the wonderful Aspasia Books have just published two plays in one volume by the 19th century Finnish dramatist, Minna Canth. The plays, The Burglary and The House of Roinila, are both early works and both are translated by Richard Impola, who did a magnificent job with Vainö Linna´s trilogy, Under The North Star, also published by Aspasia. And that´s not all. Aspasia plan two further volumes of Canth´s plays in the near future. What a treat!

Some more good news arrived this week: I heard that the Finnish bookshop chains, Akateeminen Kirjakauppa and Suomalainen Kirjakauppa will be stocking my novel, The Finn´s Tale. Akateeminen are stocking it in several stores, including Tampere, and Suomalainen have it in their shop at Hämeenkatu 18, Tampere and may add it in other stores later.

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Article about The Finn´s Tale

I´ve just heard that Tampere´s local newspaper, Tamperelainen, would like to publish an article about my new novel, The Finn´s Tale. What a good idea, I thought, so I´m meeting them, either later this week or the start of next week. The article should appear soon after that.

I´ll put more information on my blog when I know the details. Everyone who lives in Tampere can read the paper, of course, but if the article goes on Tamperelainen´s website, I´ll post the link here. It´ll be in Finnish, of course.

There are details about The Finn´s Tale, including the opening paragraph, at the top of the right-hand column of this blog.

Monday, 16 May 2011


I got back from my trip to London yesterday. The reading in Swiss Cottage library was a very enjoyable event. Many thanks to Adele Ward and Abul Kashim for organising the event and to all those who came along to listen and to read their work in the open mic part of the evening. It was certainly a lively event.

As one part of my reading, I read from the scene where Len visits the Finnish National Gallery and views several works by famous Finnish artists. As these painters are often not well known outside Finland, except to people with a special interest in visual arts, I showed slides of the paintings Len describes. For anyone who has read, or is reading, the novel and who doesn´t know the paintings, they can be found on the Ward Wood website at this address:

Actually, they will be interesting for people who haven´t read the novel, too. If you don´t know these artists, they´re well worth getting to know.

Since the titles and artists are not given on the website, I´ll give them here, in order, starting from the top:

Albert Edelfelt: Boys Playing on the Beach, 1884.
Hjalmar Munsterhjelm: Forest Pond by Moonlight, 1881.
Ellen Thesleff: The Echo, 1891.
Helene Schjerfbeck: A Wounded Soldier, 1880.
Eero Järnefelt: Children Playing, 1895.
Verne Thomé: Boys Playing on a Sandy Beach, 1904.
Akseli Gallen-Kallela: Parisian Street Scene.
Akseli Gallen-Kallela: Rotting Fish, 1884.
Akseli Gallen-Kallela: Wild Angelica, 1889.
Akseli Gallen-Kallela: Marjatta by the Waterside, 1896.
Akseli Gallen-Kallela: Lemminkainen´s Mother, 1897.
Akseli Gallen-Kallela: Ad Astra, 1907.

I arrived home early on Sunday evening, just in time to watch Finland win the ice hockey world championships. I refrained from dancing naked in the town square in celebration, though, and a lot of people are very glad that I did.....refrain, that is.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Reading from The Finn´s Tale in London

I will be reading from my novel, The Finn´s Tale, in the art gallery of Swiss Cottage library in London on Friday, 13 May as part of the Friday Night Writers series. Doors open at 18.00 and the reading begins at 18.30. The address is 88, Avenue Road, London NW3. Entrance is free and wine will be available.

There will be an open mic session, too, and readers can submit their work to be considered for an anthology of poetry and prose from the series which will be published in June 2012.

I would love to meet anyone who is able to get there.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

If Bach had been a mushroom...

This is a scene from the middle of my novel, The Finn´s Tale. The two central characters, Len and Päivi, are collecting chanterelles in the forest. Bach makes a surprising appearance:

<span class=

We followed a small path for some way, then left it and walked between the trees to where the land began to rise gently. ‘This is one place where we could find some,’ she said. ‘They are often half concealed under other plants and undergrowth. You have to look very carefully.’

There were plenty of mushrooms around, but we were interested only in chanterelles. We went side-by-side, a few feet apart and scanned the ground carefully. It was a real thrill to find them, nestling half-hidden amongst the grass or moss. They’re a brilliant, butter-yellow and the shape is so elegant, like a fluted trumpet. I felt a thrill every time I found one, like finding a nugget of gold, a gift from the forest gods.

‘They tend to grow in colonies,’ Päivi said, ‘so when you find one you will probably find others.’

‘There’s something quite baroque about them,’ I commented, when we’d just finished clearing one fairly large colony. I held one on my palm. It was almost weightless. ‘If Bach had been a mushroom, he would have been a chanterelle,’ I added.

Päivi giggled with delight. ‘That’s a lovely saying, Len. If Bach had been a mushroom. I must remember that.’

Friday, 8 April 2011

The Finn´s Tale comes to Finland

My copies of my new novel, The Finn´s Tale, arrived yesterday afternoon, just as I was about to leave home to meet Eevi in town for a meal. Good timing; dinner turned into a celebration. The production quality is extremely high, as I´ve come to expect from Ward Wood Publishing. The book is printed on good quality paper and the cover image is really striking, I think.

Bookshops in Tampere and Helsinki have got information about the publication but I´m still waiting for a response from them. And I will be doing a reading from The Finn´s Tale at Swiss Cottage library in London on Friday 13th May at 19.00. I´d love to meet any readers of my blog who are able to get there. Copies of the book will be on sale. It can also be purchased from the Ward Wood website:

or from The Book Depository:

Saturday, 2 April 2011

London Sights part 5

Not exactly sights in this number; I´m going to say a little about two well-known English institutions: pubs and fish and chips. But then again, I am going to point out two particular establishments, so maybe they count as sights.

Pub first. The last time we were in London we stopped for some liquid refreshment at The Cross Keys in Endell Street:

It´s a lovely little pub, very attractive from the outside, as you can see, and beautiful inside. The walls are covered with pictures, photos, posters and a huge selection of various objects. It´s like having a beer in an antique shop! The pub has a great atmosphere, very friendly service and there´s food, too.

But if you don´t choose to eat at The Cross Keys, you might want to walk just 50 or 60 metres up Endell Street to The Rock and Sole Plaice:

Fish and chips is quite a tradition in England, but it can vary a lot. When it´s not good, it can be pretty bad. Two key things to look out for: the batter coating the fish should be thin and crisp. If it´s thick and soggy, that´s a bad sign. Secondly, look for chips made from fresh potatoes, not frozen from a plastic bag. The meal should be cooked to order, not cooked in advance and then kept hot until somebody buys it.

How do you order your meal? Every fish and chip shop has a list of the fish on offer on the wall behind the counter. You select the type of fish you want. Some types of fish are well known to most foreign visitors: cod (turska in Finnish), sole (meriantura), haddock (very similar to cod), plaice (punakampela). But why not try something a bit different? We had rock salmon and skate. Skate is rausku in Finnish and rock salmon, or rock for short, is actually a kind of shark. Its real name is dogfish, which doesn´t sound very appetising, so they call it rock salmon, which sounds a lot more delicious. And it really was delicious. The flesh of rock salmon is very soft and white apart from some parts where there is more blood in the flesh and it´s a greyish brown colour. It has a large central backbone, but very few bones otherwise. Here it is:

As you can see, the chips are made from fresh potatoes. The fish was soft and succulent and really tasty and the batter was crisp and delicious. The Rock and Sole Plaice is highly recommended. And they have outdoor seating with heating.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Going to the printer

The final edit is completed. Whew! The Finn´s Tale should be going to the printer this week. I´m extremely pleased with the whole project and really excited at the prospect of holding it in my hands very soon.

Some Finnish friends have asked me how long it is. That´s a good question and behind it, for non-native English readers, is the thought, `How long´s it going to take me to get through it?´ I fully understand that, of course. So for any other readers of this blog who aren´t native speakers, I can let you know the exact answer. In its published form the story begins on page 9 and the last page is 169 so the text of the novel runs to 161 pages. It´s not too long, in other words.

Cover of The Finns Tale

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Sue Guiney in Asia

Sue Guiney, my colleague from Ward Wood Publishing and author of A Clash Of Innocents, is at the start of a tour of S.E. Asia. She sent me an email about her trip with some web links and information on how to follow her progress on her blog. With Sue´s permission I am posting her message on my blog. I thought that my Tuesday reading group, who are reading Sue´s novel, and other visitors to my blog might like the opportunity to see what she´s up to.

Sue´s message:


My excellent adventure is just a few days away – an entire month travelling around SE Asia with my new novel, A Clash of Innocents. I’ll be travelling to four countries giving workshops, presentations, readings and book signings with the aim of raising as much money as possible for charity through my book sales.

I have events planned at places like Nielsen Hays Library in Bangkok, the Butterflies Garden in Siem Reap, the International School in Phnom Penh and the Tanglin Club in Singapore. The main event, though, is the founding of a new on-going, internet-based Writing Workshop for the children of the Siem Reap shelter, Anjali House.

I hope you’ll follow along with me! I’ll be blogging as I go along, complete with pictures and perhaps a video or two, on

I have already started to talk about the trip there, and Sunday’s post will show a brief video which we’ve made about the origin of it all. Please check in every now and again to see what I’m up to and maybe to post a comment of encouragement every once in a while. I’d love to hear from you. Of course this is exciting, but it is bound to be tiring and a bit overwhelming as well and the occasional kind word from a friend would be much appreciated.

If you are moved to contribute to one of the charities I am supporting, do go to their websites, read more about them and follow their directions there:

Anjali House http://www.anjali-house.com
Tabitha http://www.tabithauk.com

That’s all for now. See you soon in cyberspace.




Cover of A Clash of Innocents and link to shop

Saturday, 19 February 2011

The Finn´s Tale opening paragraph

Cover of The Finns Tale

This is the opening paragraph of my new novel, The Finn´s Tale, due from Ward Wood Publishing at the end of March. The tale is told by Len, an American with Finnish roots who visits Finland to meet his Finnish relatives and find about about the country and way of life and learns some unexpected and surprisings things.

Right from the start, Finland surprised me. When I arrived in Helsinki the temperature was 80 degrees Fahrenheit and it was one of the warmest places in Europe. For that day, at least. It didn´t stay that way the whole summer. Coming out of Helsinki airport the heat was noticeable and I felt overdressed in a sweater and jacket. I´ll admit to having been thrown a little off balance right at the beginning of my Finnish experience. I had always thought of myself as partly Finnish, which I am; my grandparents on my father´s side emigrated from Finland to America in 1920. And although, at the age of forty-four, this was my first-ever visit, I´d always thought of Finnishness as something I could take for granted in my idea of myself. And now here I was, being caught out by the weather, just like all the other tourists. It´s true, though, that Finnishness had played a negligible part in my upbringing. In a way, it had been conspicuous by its absence, but that absence was always present, if you take my meaning. I felt it was there as a kind of backdrop against which all the immediate experiences of everyday life took place.

Available to pre-order:

Monday, 7 February 2011

The Finn´s Tale cover

Cover of The Finns Tale

Here´s the cover of my new novel, The Finn´s Tale, due from Ward Wood Publishing at the end of March. I´m delighted with the effect Mike Fortune-Wood has got with the photo of the woman´s hand which portrays a key scene in the plot.

The final edit of the novel is well underway and I´m really pleased with the way it´s going: no major revisions, just some tweaks here and there to make sure the text flows smoothly. I had to get permission from Minnesota Public Radio to use two short passages from an article on their website, as well, and I can say that they were jolly quick in their response and extremely helpful. Much gratitude.

So, not long now. I´ll post some more details as the big day draws closer.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Hello Ducky?

Recognise this? Somewhere under that snow there´s a young chap lying on his back in a paddling pool with a family of yellow rubber ducks a-waddlin´. This winter has been a snowy one in Finland, I have to say. Please send winter coat and woolly underwear.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

My New Novel

Well, these are exciting times. Hot on the heels of the publication of my poetry collection, Midas Touch, Ward Wood Publishing will be bringing out my novel this spring.

It´s called The Finn´s Tale and it tells the story of Len Makinen whose paternal grandparents emigrated from Finland to America in 1920. In the late 1990s, when Len is just turned 40, he re-establishes contact with his Finnish relatives. He starts to construct his family tree and collect data for a family history. Then, in 2000, Len visits Finland, meets his second cousin, Päivi, and other relatives. Len learns what it means to be a Finn, and a lot of other things besides. And at the end of his experiences he writes the Finn´s tale, which is actually not his own story.

I´m dead excited about this one. I´m working on the cover image now with Mike Fortune-Wood and working with Adele Ward on the editing. More news coming very soon.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

London Sights part 4

On a recent trip to London, when I read from my new collection, Midas Touch in Camden Town, I also took the opportunity to visit the Dickens House Museum at 48, Doughty Street. Dickens lived here for just under three years from early 1837 to the end of 1839. House museums are one of my favourite types of museum and the Dickens House Museum has some very good qualities and some less fortunate ones, in my opinion. I will explain. The best aspect of this museum, I think, is that the building itself, the structure, layout and condition are all pretty much as they were when Dickens and his family lived there. There have been no significant renovations or alterations so you see the place as Dickens knew it. Less fortunate, I felt, was the nature of some of the decoration and displays. The worst of these was the Christmas decoration so presumably that was temporary. The staircase and the main living room were decorated with modern Christmas decorations that I felt were completely out of place. I believe that the tradition of having a Christmas tree was just beginning at the time Dickens lived in this house. The first recorded use of the term in English dates from 1835. It gradually became more and more popular after that so it´s possible that Dickens may have had one in this house. However, the hanging paper and glittery decorations didn´t begin to appear until the 1860s so he definitely wouldn´t have had those. If he had any kind of decoration beyond the tree, it would have been a nativity scene and possibly home-made paper chains. Call me a grumpy old man, but I found these decorations out of place. There was even what looked like a Halloween mask. I don´t know what that was doing there.

Oh well, the Christmas decorations wouldn´t be there at other times of the year so it´s no big deal. In some of the rooms there were also exhibitions of various kinds, such as stage representations of Oliver Twist. This kind of information might be interesting, but again, I would prefer to see the room as close to its lived in condition as possible. The main bedroom on the second floor is entirely given over to changing displays of this kind and personally, I think that´s a shame.

This is the desk that Dickens wrote some of his novels at. It is on display in his study on the first floor. Actually, this desk is from a later period in Dickens´s life, so he didn´t actually use this desk when he lived in Doughty Street.

He wrote the end of Pickwick Papers, Oliver Twist, Nicholas Nickleby and part of Barnaby Rudge while living in Doughty Street.

On the second floor there are two bedrooms. The main bedroom with dressing room was used by Dickens and his wife, Catherine, though it is not furnished as a bedroom now, as I mentioned. The smaller second bedroom at the back of the house was often used by Catherine Dickens´s younger sister, Mary Hogarth. She died in this room very suddenly and completely unexpectedly. The family had been out at the theatre for the evening and when they returned, Mary collapsed immediately after saying goodnight and going to her room. They called a doctor but he could do nothing and Mary died the next afternoon. Dickens wrote in a letter that she had died in his arms. He had supported her to help her drink a little brandy, which she swallowed and he continued to hold her until after she had died. He removed a ring from her finger once she was dead and put it on his own finger and wore it for the rest of his life. He kept all of her clothes and used to go to look at them. He often visited her grave and dreamed of her every night for months after her death, so he wrote. He even planned to have himself buried beside her but had to abandon the idea when Mary´s grandmother and brother occupied the space when they died. Some biographers have speculated that Dickens may have been in love with Mary. Christopher Hibbert writes that Dickens `never fully recovered´ from her death and the figure of Mary appears in many of his novels.