Audrey Niffenegger's warm tribute to Jean Pateman

Jean Pateman is one of the most consistent and principled people I have ever met. When I first proposed to write a novel set around Highgate Cemetery, Mrs Pateman scrutinised me very carefully and laid down a number of limitations which I would have to ob

Jean Pateman is one of the most consistent and principled people I have ever met. When I first proposed to write a novel set around Highgate Cemetery, Mrs Pateman scrutinised me very carefully and laid down a number of limitations which I would have to observe if I were to proceed. I agreed to these rules, and they have shaped the novel.

Mrs Pateman has been extremely generous with her time and knowledge of the cemetery. I have also been treated very kindly by all of the Friends I have worked with, and I have learned a great deal from them.

I have been a volunteer guide at the cemetery since 2004. It is a privilege to be able to guide at Highgate, and I hope that when the Friends read my book they will feel that I have made good use of their hospitality.

The number of guides available is not always equal to the number of visitors, even now. I hope that my book will not cause too much disturbance.


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This is not the first Highgate Cemetery novel; Tracy Chevalier's Falling Angels is set there. Friends who were with the cemetery at the time it was published assure me that while Tracy's book did attract extra visitors, they managed.

Somehow, whatever happens, Mrs Pateman and the Friends always manage to cope in style, and I am confident that they will continue to do so.

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Audrey Niffenegger

Chicago, Illinois, USA

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