Join Laura for a get-together in London to talk about motherhood and mental health. Plus you'll receive a signed limited-edition, hardback version of the book and get your name in the back on the list of those who have pledged.
Laura will give a talk or host a workshop at your event or group. You or your organisation will be thanked in the acknowledgements and you'll receive five signed, limited-edition versions of the book. Travel not included
Help us make this book happen: in exchange for your support, you'll receive our eternal thanks, a signed, limited-edition version of the book and your name or organisation's name in the dedication. Limited to four.
Receive a signed limited-edition, hardback version of the book and get your name in the back on the list of those who have pledged, plus Laura will send you a copy of one of her favourite books on motherhood and/or mental health.
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All My Worldly Joy is Laura Richmond's intimate and compelling account of growing up in mental health services, and how everything changed when she became a mother herself.
All My Worldly Joy started out as the story of my experience of birth trauma and my admission to a psychiatric mother and baby unit together with my six-week-old son. I wanted to write the book that I’d needed to read in the midst of post-traumatic stress -- something I hadn’t realised that childbirth could trigger -- and in those long months afterwards when I simply couldn’t imagine that I would ever be anything but miserable. I wanted to share what I wished those around me had known, especially those who loved me and the midwives and doctors who were ill-equipped to help me when I was struggling.
But as I wrote this story with the support of everyone who has pledged so far, I realised that its meaning came from another, larger narrative. I’d struggled socially and emotionally since childhood. I was funnelled into mental health services early and spent almost twenty years there. I tried every medication going and everyone had different views about what my problem was. I spent time in hospital and became more and more desperate - even more so after my son was born. The stakes were so much higher once he was here: I didn’t want his life to look like mine. And as it turned out, his arrival was the beginning of a chain of events that would change everything.
Mental health campaigns are always urging us to talk, to ask for help, but the reality is that sometimes no-one - however qualified they are or however deeply they care - really knows what to say or do. The services we have are not always fit for purpose. So what happens then? I’d love for you to come with me as I retrace my steps through all of this - teenage years with a bipolar diagnosis, the decision to have a child after being diagnosed with a lifelong mental illness, the concept of ‘personality disorder’ and what it means; the ways in which trauma shapes us and directs us, and how we learn to trust ourselves as parents and as people. I’m aware this all sounds incredibly heavy (and it is unflinching), but there’s a lot of humour in there too, and it’s ultimately hopeful - a story of self-discovery, of purpose, and of profound love.
The title - All My Worldly Joy - is a phrase from a letter to Henry VII from his mother, Lady Margaret Beaufort, who gave birth to him when she was just 13. It was a difficult labour and nearly killed them both. Henry was her only child and she was devoted to him - “my son and all my worldly joy.” I came across her phrase whilst researching for my history PhD. At the time, I was writing it up with a sick toddler, on forty minutes’ sleep, and I was feeling pretty wretched. It reminded me just how much my life has been transformed, and of the thousand tiny joys my son brings me every day.
Laura will be donating 50 per cent of her profits from this book to the Maternal Mental Health Alliance.
Laura Richmond is a researcher and activist who works to improve mental health care, especially for parents and families. You can read about some of her past and current projects here: https://linktr.ee/cooksferryqueen.
In her other life, she is a medieval historian and she enjoys restoring antique dolls, stomping about with headphones on, bullet journalling, tarot, and spending time with her son and her cats. She tweets @cooksferryqueen. All My Worldly Joy is her first book.
We have had stinky covid again. I finally tested negative on Sunday and crossed that threshold from the parallel world of the sick and self-isolating. Outdoors is very good, isn't it? I'd forgotten. I'm out of covid stasis and lumbering onward once more, if a bit slowly and breathlessly.
As I write, we are one hardback copy away from 95%! Wowsers. Thank you so much to those who…
24th January 2023Extracts, research, and video calls (oh my)
It feels odd to say happy new year, since it's been January for about five months now, but nonetheless I hope you all managed to catch a break over Christmas and have lots of nice things planned for the year ahead. I have some bits and bobs to share:
A sneak peek at the book manuscript is on the horizon! I've compiled a series of short extracts for the clever folk at…
21st December 2022Merry Christmas and some good news
Since the crowdfunder campaign was relaunched about three weeks ago, we've jumped up almost ten per cent. This is incredible, especially if you consider how long it took to get the previous 82% in the bank. Right now, we are one hardback copy away from 92%! I had hoped for 90% by Christmas so that extra almost-2% is very much the icing and marzipan on my festive fruitcake. I can…
2nd December 2022Quick little update and a thank you
Just wanted to check in as it's been a week since the crowdfunder relaunch, and what a week! We've jumped up from 82% to 87% (two hardbacks off 88%... not that I'm obsessively refreshing the website or anything...). That's more momentous than it sounds as each % is quite chunky, since there are a lot of costs attached to printing and marketing a book, and it's more than I'd ever dared…
25th November 2022Ready for take off
Hello, it's me again! Thanks so much for all the comments and messages about the cover.... I'm thrilled that you all seem to love it as much as I do. The eagle-eyed amongst you might have spotted that it's up on the webpage now, along with some new text which, I feel, more accurately reflects where the book has come to over the process of writing it. If you'd like to see, you can just go here and…
20th June 2022The problem of endings
I’m a bit nervous about this one, conscious of the (self-imposed) pressure to appear writerly and extremely talented at all times, to maintain excitement for the book that is coming, and of course to attract new supporters. The crowdfunding is a bit on hold for now: once Unbound have updated the page, I have a few ideas to sort out the final 20%. That’s all right. But here’s the problem…
8th May 2022Hello from me on a sunny Sunday afternoon
Long time, no update - and I actually have some progress news to impart. The crowdfunder is at 80% and the actual book-writing more like 90%. The webpages here now feel horribly out-of-date so I've written some new content and Unbound have very kindly agreed to do a refresh. Once that's done, I'm going to give the funding a concerted 'push'. Lately I've been feeling a bit uninspired…
17th December 2021December update: what's this book about again?
Hi everyone -
- and welcome and thank you so much to all the new supporters. The eagle-eyed might notice we’ve had a bit of a jump in the funding since last month and are rapidly approaching 79%! The writing is coming along too: assuming I hit my target for the end of the month, I will have 13 whole chapters down and a prologue. (I’ll cut some stuff out, I promise...) It’s starting to feel like…
8th November 2021Hello, it's November
I've been thinking of you all a lot lately and wanted to check in. I couldn't really write this book without thinking of you - the people who will read it, and the people who are helping me to make it happen. I'm currently turning the first draft (60,000 words of absolute chaos haemorrhaged on to a page at various points over the last five years) into the second draft (an actual book…
24th July 2021Better late than never?
I'm always really pleasantly surprised when I hear that someone's read one of these updates. I know, if this landed in my inbox, I would intend to read it later and probably not get round to it. And I would hate for anyone to feel any pressure. I was even more surprised this week when one of you, whom I've never actually met, messaged me on Twitter to ask how the book was going and…
13th March 2021Checking in
It's been a little while since my last update so I thought I would let you know how things are ticking along.
Firstly we are now 72% funded - nearly 73%, in fact - so almost three-quarters of the way through this epic crowdfunding campaign. A warm welcome to the new supporters, particularly those who have arrived over the last few days after hearing me speak at the perinatal mental…
18th December 2020An actual book update - for once!
Hope you're all doing OK - or as OK as is feasible right now. I wanted to check in to wish you a merry Christmas (or as merry as is feasible right now!) and to thank you for your patience with The Book That Took Forever. I have a little bit of news on that score and it feels exciting to be getting in touch about that rather than some other tangentially-related thing.
So - long…
11th November 2020On telly - this afternoon!
Bit of a random one - and I don't even know if the good people at Unbound HQ will be able to approve this and get it out to you in time - but just in case:
I'm expecting to be on at 5pm or a bit after, and, if you dare, you can tune in via on Sky HD 512 / SD 518 or Freeview HD 113 / SD 234 or live on the producers' website http://rt.com/on-air/.
I say 'if you dare' - this is all very strange…
22nd September 2020Post-covid, podcast, preview, peer support, & more!
It feels like ages since I last wrote - apologies. I'm still not well, after having covid in March. Good days and bad, really. It's been a tough year, as I know it has for most of us. I think of you all often, and I also wanted to send a really warm welcome and thank you to the newer supporters. There are 389 of you now, and the book is 68% funded! Thanks for being so patient with…
18th June 2020The Thing That Wouldn't Go Away
Fair warning that this is more of a life update than a book update. There is not much book update to tell you on account of the contents of the life update! From here, the book and the life are hardly separate. I'm not sure where one ends and the other begins.
After confidently asserting in my last update that I was on the mend after CoViD and picking things up again, I've had a bit of a setback. This seems to be how it goes. Snakes and ladders. Greetings from my bed.
We've had a flurry of book pledges after one of my tweets went semi-viral last weekend, so now just a smidge off 63%. Getting there! I must remember to promote the book…
28th April 2020Hello, strangers.
I'm sorry for the radio silence; everything has happened. I've been thinking of you all often and wondering how you are. Do get in touch, if you'd like, and let me know how you're doing amidst all this. I would love to hear from you.
I came down with the virus five weeks ago and have been really quite poorly. I had throat and chest infections subsequently but managed to dodge hospital, thanks largely…
(It’s worth pointing out that intrusive thoughts can be…
19th February 2020'A Sturdy Dame, and a Wilful'
You might remember that the title of this book - 'All My Worldly Joy' comes from a letter to Henry VII from his mother, Lady Margaret Beaufort. I think of her sometimes - 12 years old, newly widowed and heavily pregnant, alone and unprotected in what was then a lawless region. She went to her brother-in-law's for safety and almost died giving birth to Henry. She never conceived again…
18th January 2020Short days, long months, writing and not writing
Dearest 317 supporters,
It feels like the 317th of January - how is it still January? - and I just wanted to check in, really, and say that I haven't forgotten you. Thanks for being the invisible cheering crowd that I envisage when I hit the brick wall of "I can't do this."
I did lots of bookwriting in a frenzied burst a couple of weeks ago. My friend Nikki and I went to the Isle of Wight for…
17th December 2019Christmas sheep and self-care
First of all, I've been meaning to write the last couple of weeks and tell you - in case you haven't seen already - that the perinatal peer support principles are here and ready to use. We launched them at Peerfest in Birmingham a couple of weeks ago, and I also published this blog post about co-creating the principles. The Peerfest team had originally capped the number of participants…
13th November 2019Pretty Good Year
Today marks one year since everything shifted - both for my life and for this book. That evening, my husband packed his bags and got into a taxi and then the house was quiet and I was a single mum.
I was a few months into the crowdfunding campaign for All My Worldly Joy and realised I suddenly had much less time and money that I had been counting on to get this done. I wrote this…
16th October 2019Get your diaries out!
I just wanted to touch base with you all, as it's been a little while, and to share a couple of bits of news and an invitation.
We passed 300 supporters (yay!) and are now 56% funded. Things have slowed a bit lately, partly because it's been summer and partly because I'm writing the damn book, plus working and singlemothering and it is a lot, so I don't have much time to be in people…
23rd August 2019A small milestone.
I did a brave thing last night. OK, technically I did it by accident but it totally still counts.
I sent a chunk of All My Worldly Joy to Unbound! My commissioning editor, Fiona, asked to have a look, to see how it's coming along. I've been really anxious about this, about someone other than me seeing any of the draft. I sent one to a few people about a year ago but it's been…
2nd July 2019Co-production, everyone!
Some friends and I decided a while ago that co-production is like teenage sex: hardly anyone is doing it - most don't even know how to do it - but everyone thinks that everyone else is doing it, and so everyone pretends that they're doing it. This is still mostly the case, but there are glimpses of progress. Maternity services are embracing 'co-creation' as service user led MVPs (maternity voice partnerships…
I've been singing Livin' on a Prayer all day. My singing, as Arthur once succintly described it, is "a bad noise". But - it's true - we are HALF WAY THERE. We hit 50% over the weekend. This is so, so great. And I owe you all an update so here goes.
Apparently no Unbound campaign has ever reached 50% and then not completed funding to produce an actual book, so that's encouraging! Given that…
5th May 2019Breastfeeding, formula-feeding, and the NCT
Many of you will have been following the recent controversy around the NCT and infant feeding. The NCT president, Seana Talbot, resigned a couple of weeks ago, stating that she felt the charity was moving away from its original emphasis on breastfeeding and birth towards more generic parent support and perinatal mental health. Zoe Williams responded in the Guardian, citing the harm done by militant…
29th April 2019It's maternal mental health awareness week!
If you’ve ever been referred to a psychiatrist, chances are you’ll have received a letter after every appointment. This letter is not addressed to you: it’s from the psychiatrist to the GP - about you. You are copied in. These clinic letters are one-sided and they are subjective, and subsequently they have the potential to be all sorts of upsetting. They can include observations about your appearance…
23rd March 2019Netmums video
I wanted to share with you this shiny new video from Netmums, who interviewed me over Skype about birth trauma and maternal mental health. I explain about postnatal PTSD, talk about my own experience very briefly, and signpost to some support available. (I tell you this from memory: I have a policy of not watching or listening to myself at all as I know I will only dissolve into…
3rd March 2019Fanny Fanackapan
This is a little off-topic but bear with me. I suspect the maternal mental health / feminist parenting overlap is a significant one. And I want to talk to you about vulvas.
It’s been niggling at me for a while that, whilst little boys almost universally have a ‘willy’, there is no equivalent for little girls: there’s no child-friendly word for vulva in common enough usage to be…
17th February 2019Happyish birthdays
Birthdays after birth trauma are funny things. They’re times of joy and celebration of a much-loved child, and yet they’re also ‘crappiversaries’ – a concise if rather twee name for the anniversary of a traumatic event. I’m not sure why crappiversaries have to be a Thing, and yet somehow they are. You can ignore them, but they insist. In a way, it’s like the events of a year ago…
4th January 2019Exciting times.
Hope you all had merry Christmases and happy new years. I’ve not been particularly in the mood for festivities this year, if I’m honest, but I’m looking hopefully to 2019. I am just picking up the crowdfunding again – we've just reached both 35% and 200 supporters. That’s more than a third of the way there. Yay. Writing has really taken off this past month or so. I finally followed…
17th December 2018Try to have your writing make sense.
Back in the day, it was all about webforums. I frequented numerous of these online establishments – despite, of course, the fact that I was deeply trendy and had many, many friends in the real world, obviously… My favourite was a poetry forum called The Poetry Free-For-All, or PFFA. I wrote angsty poems, like most teenagers do, and it probably comes as no surprise that I was exceptionally…
26th November 2018Sprogcast
First of all, thank you for your beautiful, heartfelt, overwhelming responses to my last update. I’m sorry that few of you got more back from me than variations on “Thank you x” - I was just so depleted at that point, and had used up all my words. I am still quite short on conversation, to be honest. But please know that your kindness and support really does mean the world, even…
19th November 2018Snowdrops and witch hazel
I'm learning that a book is two stories: the story within the book, and the story of writing the book. The two merge and fuse and blend in all sorts of unexpected ways. I'm currently reading Tom Cox's Help the Witch, a collection of ghost stories and almost-ghost stories. They’re unsettling in a way that I find strangely satisfying. And as I read them I remember his blog posts from…
25th October 2018I trust you this much.
Last week was quite a big one for AMWJ. We surpassed both 150 supporters and 25% funding, and, at the time of writing, we’re currently cruising a cool 28%… I was also interviewed by the NCT about the book, which was grand. Welcome on board to all the new supporters, and thank you – it means everything that you’re here. If you’d like to, you can catch up on thejourneysofar.…
29th September 2018Growing Up Mental
Yesterday two rather brilliant book-things happened: we smashed 20% - and 21%, in fact – and I finished the first draft of the first chapter.
This chapter has been a bit of a tricky one: basically what happens in it is I get pregnant. (Spoiler alert!) But there’s also some necessary background info about my decidedly colourful mental health history and I need to present that without…
17th September 2018The Fraud Police
I guess this is less of a book-writing update and more of a not-book-writing update… Truth is I’ve been feeling somewhat flattened the last week or so. Part of this is that my husband, Jon, has been working away in the Netherlands, and I missed him. He called to tell me how enthusiastic the Dutch are. The company he was visiting declared it ‘British Week’ in his honour. ‘British…
7th September 2018School Daze
So today we reached 15% and we are rapidly approaching 100 supporters. Tremendous. The Positive Birth Movement also very kindly featured me on their blog. Thank you and welcome on board to everyone who has pledged recently. If you fancy, you can catch up on the previous update here. And do let’s be pals on Twitter, if you are of a tweeting persuasion. I am @cooksferryqueen.
23rd August 2018Ten!
We’re at 10%!
Ten may not sound like a lot of per cent but this is a big project and I'm awed and thrilled that we've reached it so soon. Thus far 62 glorious individual humans have pledged for the book. When we launched, Fiona (the commissioning editor at Unbound) said to me, “10% is your first target,” and it felt impossibly distant. Then we hit 5% in the first 24 hours…
These people are helping to fund All My Worldly Joy.
Hi, just wondering how long you have to make the 100% funding? If its not made will you still make your book? I’d love to read it. Thank you
Hi Sophia and thanks for your interest. There is no set deadline. If a book were stuck with no progress for months on end, the Unbound team would have a conversation with me and the book might be pulled. However, I don't see that happening as the funding seems to be progressing pretty well. When a book stalls and isn't published, it tends to happen in the early stages. Although it is a lot of money to raise, anecdotally I've heard that no book has ever reached 50% and then not got to 100% - and we are nearly at 50%! It will take a while to fund this book, and a while to finish it, but I'm confident that it will happen. I hope this answers your question?
Hi, i have a question. I’ve noticed that some publishers out there have got less supporters but have more % complete. Doesn’t that make it harder for you? As if it was the same you would have about 80+% now. That confuses me a bit, only because i really want your book to succeed. Thank you
Hi Sophia, different books have different fundraising targets depending on how much they will cost to print: some books are longer than others, some have photographs or art, etc. Some Unbound books are on the 'digital list' meaning that they will be e-books rather than physical copies sold in bookshops. Also individual supporters choose to pledge different amounts toward the book, so the number of supporters doesn't equate to the money raised. I hope this makes sense!