My Research for Vincent and Theo: The Van Gogh Brothers

My Research for VINCENT AND THEO And Learn More

I used mostly on primary sources to write VINCENT AND THEO: THE VAN GOGH BROTHERS. My three main primary sources were the letters between Vincent and Theo, the letters between Theo and Jo, and, for the end of the book, the condolence letters written to Theo. I have a wonderful six-volume set of all of Vincent’s letters, which you can see here (among some of my many other books on van Gogh)

and you can access it HERE: VAN GOGH THE LETTERS. This site is amazing. It has all of the letters Vincent wrote, the letters everyone wrote to him, plus a lot more information: a timeline, biographies of people he wrote with, family information–and art. If you want to explore more about Vincent and Theo, this is one great place to start.

Another place where I spent a lot of time, and I hope you will, too, is the VAN GOGH MUSEUM website. You can (and might!) spend hours looking at Vincent’s beautiful art, and read fascinating articles and essays about methods, his life, and more. The site links to talks by curators, and often has news stories up, like this one about two stolen paintings that recently made their way home: “They’re home again!” 

You can also read what about current research projects by historians and others at the museum here.

If you go to the bibliography at the back of the book, you will find a couple of other websites to explore, as well as many books and articles to read. If you have any questions you can’t find answers to, feel free to email me. I will try to help!

I want also to share a few examples of how I do my research.

For one thing, I spent a lot of time playing with paints (watercolors) to understand even a little bit what it feels like to be an artist. Here is a photo my husband took one day when I spread out much of my work. (You can see I am not an artist, but sure was having fun!)

And here is me trying to figure out, with the help of a Dutch friend of mine, the route of the walk to the Windmill Vincent and Theo took in The Hague.

This is a photograph of the Mill painting! We got to see it “live” at a show where it was FOR SALE. Sadly we did not have enough money to buy it!

Here are some more photographs that show a little bit of how I work. Just a snippet! So every month I have lunch with two close writer friends. We spend a lot of time talking about our books, writing craft, and asking each other for help with our projects. We usually sit at a table that has a paper over the cloth tablecloth, and that often comes in handy. On November 14, 2013, we had lunch and I talked over the structure of the book with them, and this is what I wrote (and I called it beginning and structure big picture)And because you’re still here, I thought I’d show you one more photograph of a work in progress. This is a draft of the manuscript all spread out on my table thinking still about structure. And since you’re still here, this is to show you that with all the research I do, all the years I put into the book, I still make mistakes! Thank goodness Macmillan gave me a GODDESS of a copyeditor and fact-checker. Here’e just one page… (That’s on my computer, obviously. My desktop screen image was a map of England, for another project!)

I have more to say (always). But I will leave some things for later, and for talks. Thanks for reading this far!