Origins of The Secret Fire
The Secret Fire sprang from two or three insistent images.
One was the terrifying growl and sudden silence heralding the fall to earth of a V-1 “flying bomb” during World War Two, recounted to me by my mother, whose earliest memories include the wail of air-raid sirens and the musty smell of the bomb shelter on Monument Street, Peterborough, on the very edge of the Fens.
Another was the perhaps spurious but intriguing story, first published, as far as I’m aware, by French writer Jacques Bergier, that British and American intelligence organizations mounted a search in Paris during or just after World War Two to locate a man known only as Fulcanelli, who was reputed to be an authentic alchemist, perhaps with access to atomic secrets.
A third was my sense, as an East Anglian, that not all of the magic and witchcraft lore of my home region is necessarily just nonsense and ignorance, and that deep and powerful things are to be found in that flat, brooding landscape that others, too, may tap into, following their own traditions: some for ill.
This website is about the historical events, real people and living traditions that influenced and inspired The Secret Fire. It is also a storehouse for some of the key images and sounds that I associate most closely with its story and characters.
To hear my parents’ memories of some of the sounds that marked their childhood during World War Two, click here.