‘Those who have an orphan’s sense of history love history. And my voice has become that of an orphan. Perhaps it was the unknown life of my mother, her barely drawn portrait, that made me an archivist, a historian. Because if you do not plunder the past, the absence feeds on you’
[Anna, in Divisadero by Michael Ondaatje (Bloomsbury, London 2007, p 141)]
I wonder how many other family historians respond to that feeling!