I went into single combat with Google the other week. They’ve persistently credited all my books to a lecturer in Classics at Exeter University who has the same name as me. To their credit, Google came back promptly with an informative answer which I’ll be acting on by way of getting the gaffe fixed.
I’m mildly intrigued the Exeter lecturer hasn’t fixed the mis-credit, especially given that I do have a small repute in the UK for my academic work – I was elected a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society at University College in London on the back of it.
The incident highlights the problems of having a popular name. Here in New Zealand alone, there are 42 people on the electoral roll named Matthew Wright. Only one of them is me. There’s a Matthew Wright who pens poetry and publishes it online. There’s a Matt Wright who writes history (as do I). There’s a bank manager with my name. And in Norwich, there’s a 20-year old Matthew Wright who was arrested for beating people up while dressed as an Oompa Loompa.
That highlights the down-side of the name. Being confused with an English academic is one thing. Being confused with somebody who’s done something heinous could do actual damage.
I’m not the only one with a popular name, of course. Another ‘common name victim’ is the subject of my next book – Man of Secrets: The Private Life of Donald McLean (Penguin Random House 2015).
So have I written about Donald MacLean/McLean the spy, the ice-hockey player, the song-writer, the basketball player, the Laird of Brolas, the Canadian senator, the judge, the churchman, the comedian, the fur trader, the New Zealand land-buyer, or what?
I guess the word ‘New Zealand’ is the give-away, given where I live. But I haven’t covered the ‘land buyer’ side of his life. Oh no. Everybody’s done that. I found something new to talk about. His secret life.
Copyright © Matthew Wright 2015