A few weeks ago I went to the book launch of GIRL IN A GREEN GOWN: THE HISTORY AND MYSTERY OF THE ARNOLFINI PORTRAIT by my friend, Carola Hicks. It was an occasion both unusual and moving: unusual because the Carola could not be there. She died in June 2010 leaving her book almost, but not quite, finished. And moving because her husband, Gary, completed the book for her and saw it through the press. He told us at the launch how, sitting at her desk surrounded by her copious notes, he felt close to her, and how comforting he had found that.
I first met Carola near twenty years ago when we were both teaching in Cambridge and I enjoyed following her late-flowering career as successful writer, first IMPROPER PURSUITS: THE SCANDALOUS LIFE OF LADY DI BEAUCLERK, then her fine books on the Bayeux Tapestry and on the stained glass in King’s College Chapel. I have GIRL IN A GREEN GOWN next to me and I am looking forward to reading it. I’ve just seen the TLS review which ends ‘this beautifully written book is a splendid testament to the intelligence, attention to detail, depth of research, and down-to-earth vision of a first-rate scholar.’ Yes, she was that alright, but to her family and friends she was so very much more. I miss her.