Acknowledgements are for the people they mention, they are a private moment between the writer of a book and someone they feel helped them get there. Perhaps that is why we might sometimes take scan over them to see if we recognise a name or catch an anecdote, but as readers often don’t give this section allot of attention. Therefore you’d think that after playing an infinitesimal part in helping Andrea Zuvich’s A Year in Stuart Britain get to bookshelves (I actually saw it on a shelf a few days back) I might have checked the acknowledgements to see if I got thanked. Well happily for everyone who thought “Hey anyone who does that is a real narcissist”, I didn’t do that. When the book arrived, I did what I normally do; I smiled at the kind and elegant dedication and did not look for my name anywhere else in it.
Many is the time I’ve briefly scanned these little chapters of generosity and gratefulness, noting names I recognise, finding interest in the strings that can connect us, generally perusing the lists of abstract names, meaningless to me yet each representing a moment in time for the author, and sometimes wondering who I would include in an acknowledgement section, then the daydream becomes more elaborate, subplots appear, the communists are chasing a defector… and I lose half a day. Moving on.
I had picked up Andrea’s “A Year” (yeah we history bloggers use first names), to pick out an entry for September. I read with interest a letter by the Earl of Argyle to the Duke of Lauderdale entitled Cessations from 1665. Bearing in mind my assistance to the author occurred early this year, and the book arrived a few months back I suddenly realised that I should have checked the acknowledgments, why? I don’t know.
My now you should have guessed that my name is in this book, to say that I’m touched, doesn’t really cover it. Because I never thought my last minute helping hand would have merited inclusion and after reading the personalised autograph I never thought to look. But if she is anything, the 17th Century Lady is a generous lady. Therefore I have written this, not specifically to yell in delight about becoming one of those abstract strings I mentioned earlier, but to congratulate Andrea on her book, and to say in reply to her generous vote of thanks; Not at all, it was a great pleasure to help.
A review of A Year in the Life of Stuart Britain will appear here very soon. But until then take it from me, it’s a good read.