Friday, 12 August 2022

Woman writes first book on 17th century painter

A WOMAN from Sonning Common has had her first book published.

A WOMAN from Sonning Common has had her first book published.

Ros Jones, 37, wrote a biography of William Dobson, the court painter to Charles I in the 17th century.

She first came across Dobson when she saw a piece of his work while a member of the Sealed Knot re-enactment group more than 10 years ago.

Miss Jones is the daughter of Sonning Common parish councillor Dirk Jones and his wife Marita, who live in Kennylands Road.

She attended Sonning Common Primary School and Chiltern Edge School before studying for A-levels at Reading College.

She then decided to work rather than go to university.

Miss Jones said: “I did odd jobs like work in a travel agents in Henley. I worked in the Bell Bookshop as well.”

When she was 25 she decidded she did want to go to university after all, so she studied for a public relations degree at the University of St Mark & St John in Plymouth.

After this she was given a job in customer services at the BBC in Caversham, where she still works.

Miss Jones said her sister Serena persuaded her to join the Sealed Knot and they visited a friend who had a copy of one of Dobson’s paintings.

“I saw the painting and thought it was nice and wanted to know more about the painter,” she said.

“I love researching, looking into history and discovering things that other people have not found.

“I started researching and found no one had ever written a book on Dobson.”

For her research Miss Jones visited the National Archives in London and various records offices.

She said: “I was trying to find out anything I could about him but he seems to have been lost between other court painters like Anthony Van Dyck and Peter Lely.

“Many of the records were lost in the Great Fire of London, so it was hard to find beneficial information but I was finding all sorts of things people had not looked at, for example his family history.”

Miss Jones began writing up her research for the book when she 30.

“I would spend my time doing it in the evening, at weekends and during the week,” she said.

“I’ve done most of the work on it in the last couple of years since I got a publisher.”

She said she enjoyed the writing process and completed about 30,000 words for the book.

“It was good fun putting all my research in order and to start building it up,” said Miss Jones. “It took six months to check everything and find all the sources.

“When I started everything wasn’t in a good order so I had to go and find the evidence and be more specific about certain things.

“I had a lot of encouragement along the way from my family and people who I have got to know and are into their art history.”

Miss Jones said she had enjoyed the experience so much that she would like to write another book but she does not know what about.

“I would love to find out more about Dobson’s brother — it seems there is a lot more to find out about him,” she said. “Researching is something I love doing.”

William Dobson: The King’s Painter is published by Tygershead Books and costs £12.

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