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  • Published 20110906
  • ISBN: 9781921758225
  • Extent: 264 pp
  • Paperback (234 x 153mm), eBook

WHEN I READ Georgia Blain’s memoir, Births Deaths Marriages (Random House, 2008), I was struck by the cover of the book as well as by its remarkable contents. The design incorporates a copy of a birth certificate of similar vintage to mine, a document which is more familiar to me than any other I have owned.

My pale pink birth certificate, spotted and torn, is something that I took for granted until recently. Now I treasure it. This was because a couple of years ago I had to apply for a new passport, starting from scratch. The process proved to be yet another ordeal in the bureaucratic silos of government departments – not unexpected. But it was also a salutary lesson for someone like me, who has spent a lot of time undertaking primary research and who appreciates the significance of the original source – the document – when all else may prove inconclusive.

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