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Author Archive: "William Kuhn"

Working in the Royal Archives and Dreaming Up a Novel

The question of how an ancient institution survived into the modern era, with all its absurdities and anachronisms but also with enduring appeals to service, continuity, and curiosity about the inside of palaces, makes for an intriguing historical problem. Having written about the history of the British monarchy in varieties of nonfiction, I wanted to see whether I could tell that story in a new way.

To write my previous books, I did months of research in the Royal Archives, in the Round Tower of Windsor Castle. There, I discovered a little bit of how the modern monarchy works behind the scenes. My first point of contact was through stationery: heavy paper with a grain and a royal crest engraved in red at the top telling me I couldn't come to work on papers "belonging to Her Majesty The Queen" while I was still a graduate student. I waited a few years, finished my PhD, and wrote again. This time the response came back with a carefully phrased "maybe," but only if I specified the papers I wanted to see, which was difficult as the Archives did not ...

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