Capturing the memories of a lifetime

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are a selection of frequently asked questions, answered by Marie Rowe of

Why hire a personal historian?

Writing your own life story can seem daunting, but working with a skilled collaborator turns the process from overwhelming to energizing. Telling your life story to a neutral outsider who is trained to listen and ask appropriate questions, can help you recall key events in your life and elicit details that will be meaningful to future generations.

How is personal history different from genealogy?

A genealogist’s work is based on research to map a family tree, while a personal historian interviews people who are still living, relating stories and anecdotes within the story arc of that individual’s life. Personal historians connect generations - including generations unborn – through stories, insights and shared wisdom. So, you’re not just a name on a family tree, you’re a life.

How do I begin a project?

I will meet with you for a free one-hour consultation and we will decide what kind of a project you would like, the period you want to cover, general storyline and messages you want to convey, for example.

What’s the process, once I decide to go ahead?

The information I’ve gathered at our initial meeting, will determine the number of interview sessions required and we will arrange a schedule. I will also ask you to sign a contract and make a deposit toward the fee.

Where are interviews conducted?

Usually in the privacy of your own home, but wherever is most comfortable for you. It is essential, however, that it’s a quiet space with no distractions.

How long does it take to complete a project?

A typical book project might take anywhere from 6 months to 18 months, depending on how close together the interviews are, length of text, number of photographs and other documents you might want to include.

What will a book project cost?

Book prices vary widely, depending on the length and complexity of the process, but can usually be tailored to your budget. A manuscript based on four hours of interviews with 15 photos, bound into a book, could cost up to £1,500 whereas a much longer manuscript could cost more. Often a personal history is commissioned as a gift – for a special birthday, anniversary or milestone event - and family members may choose to share the cost, making the project an affordable investment for everyone, and from which all will ultimately benefit.

Can I write my memoir myself?

Yes, you can, and there are many books and classes* to help you do it, but most people never get around to doing it on their own. They often need the motivation, structure, prompting and encouragement that a professional personal historian can provide. That’s where I come in.