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What is being done
Where we are now
As the following pages will show, the Anne Hughes Research Team have been very active and made many discoveries about the background to Anne Hughes' Diary. Some of this research is ongoing, while work on other lines of research has petered out for lack of evidence. We're still hoping to find Margaret, the WW2 land girl. There is even a possibility that we may be on the way to discovering Anne Hughes, herself. And, by finally tracking down all the soldiers in Jeanne's wartime photo album, at last, the mystery about the identity of the soldier who was said to have disappeared with the old Diary manuscript is almost certainly solved.
But key problems remain. Chief among them is that we've not yet found the original manuscript journal on which Jeanne based her Farmers' Weekly serial. Nor have we found incontrovertible evidence or living eye-witnesses to say that there definitely was one. So, can we accept that there really was an 18thC manuscript? Or is the whole thing, as some think, a clever hoax?
Answering the critics
Letís deal with this last point first. From what weíve now learned we believe that Molly was a sincere and open person and we donít believe there was a conspiracy between Jeanne and Molly to deceive anyone about the Diary. Indeed, Mollyís own claim to the copyright was based on her statement that her mother had added to the Diary. In newspaper articles, at the time of the BBC film of the book, Molly freely admits that she herself chose some of the names for some of the characters in the serialisation that preceded the book. Whether Jeanne was introducing new characters or giving new names to existing ones, we can't say. But clearly there is no claim for the book to be an accurate copy of the original manuscript. Michael Croucher records Molly having told him that Jeanne added stories of the old Herefordshire lady, and additional recipes from a separate cookery book, to pad out the serialisation. The misconstruing of the book as being solely the work of Anne Hughes may simply be down to circumstance. Countrywise Books, the publishing arm of Farmerís Weekly, who were first to publish the serialisation as a book, did so without reference to either Mary Day or Jeanne herself, as both had died by this time. And their attempts to contact Jeanneís family had failed, as the family had moved from Oxfordshire to Sussex. The explanations provided by Michael Croucher and Michael Dover, and later by Frances and Adele, came too late. Many people who read the first edition of the book never read the subsequent editions. The bookís reputation as a fake was already established.
Reasons to be cheerful
So, perhaps itís better to think of the book as an adaptation of the original Diary. But did an original Diary really exist? There are good reasons to think it did, and many of them have been mentioned in Adeleís and Francesí Penguin Introduction of 1992 and elsewhere in this website. New research into Jeanneís childhood memories has provided more information which also points to the existence of an original diary. And textual analysis may have revealed a hidden structure in the book which points to it having been compiled from earlier documents. The following pages, though not exhaustive, will hopefully shed more light on all these aspects.