Steyning authors prepare to publish first book

From left to right: Jane Goring, Jill Turner, Janine Harvey, Joyce Sleight and Janet Pennington. Photo by Derek Martin
From left to right: Jane Goring, Jill Turner, Janine Harvey, Joyce Sleight and Janet Pennington. Photo by Derek Martin

Five Steyning women are excitedly preparing to publish their first book containing almost 400 Victorian letters and personal diaries.

Lives, Loves and Letters – written by Janine Harvey, Jane Goring, Joyce Sleight, Jill Turner and Janet Pennington – tells the story of the Goring family of Wiston from the reign of King George III, through the Victorian age and into the Edwardian times.

Steyning authors prepare to publish a book of Victorian letters and diaries from the Wiston estate. Photo by Derek Martin

Steyning authors prepare to publish a book of Victorian letters and diaries from the Wiston estate. Photo by Derek Martin

It is a book based on nearly 400 original letters and personal diaries written by members of the Goring family who lived in the Elizabethan mansion beneath Chanctonbury Ring, near Steyning.

The letters had been tied in bundles with pink ribbons and stored in a wooden Estate box before they were opened in 2004 to reveal a story.

Having not been read since the time they were received at Wiston House, the trove of eighteenth and nineteenth century letters are full of history, romance and adventure.

They describe the close relationship between the interlocking generations of the family interwoven with concern for their servants and friends.

They also give lively, descriptive accounts of travels and social lives around the Mediterranean as the family spent several years in Malta.

The five Steyning authors spent many hours unravelling and transcribing the letters having started the process in 2004.

In 2012, Janine Harvey got on board with painstakingly transcribing the letters with the four other authors before deciding they could tell a fascinating story and should be published in a book.

Thirteen years after starting work on the book, the five ladies will be launching their book early next month.

Janine said: “I am incredibly proud to say that the book that I, along with four other Steyning ladies have had the pleasure of producing and self-publishing is now in print, something we never imagined we could do.

“In 2012, I came on board to type them (the letters) up and keep them secure which led to the idea that they tell a fascinating story that could possibly become a book.

“Five years on, here we are.”

As well as Wiston Wine and nibbles at the launch party, there will be a brief presentation by Mr Harry Goring – the present owner of the house. The book will also be on sale providing guests with the chance to purchase a copy. Alternatively, the book will be on sale at the Steyning Bookshop.

The launch is by invitation and if you would like to attend please email liveslovesandletters@gmail.com.