Earlier this year I was at the Margaret River Library, talking about the latest research I’ve been doing since publication of my book about Georgiana Molloy. I closed the presentation by making the point that some things simply have to remain a mystery forever.
I showed the audience a photograph taken at the JS Battye Library a few weeks earlier, an image of a document found among the papers of John Molloy, Georgiana’s husband.
I said, “I’ve always believed that John Molloy drew this little sketch of Napoleon for his children, telling them about his adventures in the Napoleonic wars and perhaps even saying that he had caught a glimpse of the emperor himself during the Battle of Waterloo. But the provenance of this sketch this will probably be something I’ll never be able to find out.”
That same afternoon I sat down at the computer and decided to have one more go at discovering some pathways, clues that might just lead me to the truth. What came to the surface that day is a remarkable, twisting tale.
Ten years ago I said, “I’ll never find out how and when John and Georgiana first met. It was nearly 200 years ago and nothing’s recorded about that small event.” Then, in 2011, a list of old apple trees on my computer screen opened the door to discovering the wonderful story of their first meeting.
I’ve learned an important lesson: when it comes to research, never say ‘Never’.
To read the next instalment of this story, ‘John Molloy and the emperor’ look here:
© Photograph by Mike Rumble
JS Battye Library WA (SLWA) ACC 4730A Pencil drawing presumed to be of Napoleon with tree and cottage to the right. Anon.