Mary Hamer travels widely and has lectured in many countries. Her work has appeared in the Economist, the Guardian and the Independent. She has contributed to television and radio programmes, such as In Search of Cleopatra, Women’s Hour and Night Waves.
Kipling and Trix is her fifth book and first novel.
Mary began her career in the university, teaching at Cambridge for twenty years, but soon found that research was her real passion. She began to explore, inspired by the search for knowledge that was hidden or had fallen out of sight, for knowledge about the world that had been buried.
In her first book, Writing by Numbers, she deciphered Trollope’s working diaries to reveal his creative process, tracking down the long-lost diary of The Last Chronicle of Barset, in a remote country house.
Signs of Cleopatra, her second, took her to Egypt, Venice and Paris, in search of what Cleopatra’s image has meant and how that has varied with time and place, tied to changing ideas about women and their lives. The project led to fellowships at Harvard, where she continues to spend time each year.
A month-long intensive actor-training with Shakespeare and Company in Massachusetts inspired her third book, Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar.
Her ground-breaking fourth book, Incest: a new perspective, again uncovered knowledge that had been hidden away, when it examined the spectrum of psychological trauma and its causes.
Ever since Rudyard Kipling lit her imagination as a child, Mary had wanted to write about him. At ten years old, though she’d no talent for art, she doggedly modelled Hathi the elephant’s head in plasticine. And like the elephant, she never forgot. As a grown woman she gradually realised that the story of his sister, Trix, was just as compelling.
To explore the impact of their daunting early experience on their lives and work as adults, she set out to research the facts in libraries and archives. But it was visiting the places where they lived, from Mumbai to Cape Town, that brought them closer to her.
In Naulakha, the house Kipling built in Vermont, Mary slept in his bedroom and soaked in his own bath. For the intimate story she had to tell, she decided it had to be fiction.
When it finally came to interpreting the facts through creating imagined scenes, she drew on her theatre training and her earlier work on the novel.