If you've ever seen 'Who Do You Think You Are' -on the BBC where a variety of actors, musicians and other well known people are shown following up their family history and revealing often moving stories about their ancestors- then you may already know what I'm going to talk about.
(There has even been an American version which was broadcast in the UK).
Now you may never have given your ancestry any thought, let alone done any family history research yourself, but it is a wonderful tool for novel ideas and starting points for finding out information.
In fact for a writer it is very easy to get side-tracked by the stories of other families rather than your own.
I have to admit that I leave the trawling of records to my OH as he is very good at it- though my family history is still struggling to move beyond the early 1800's (going backwards from the present day of course).
But sometimes gems are revealed in passing that you can't resist...
A bigamous marriage.
Very old photos perhaps with a name and an address, or maybe just an interesting face that weaves a story in your mind.
An old letter or a message on a postcard.
A marriage recorded- by Special Licence rather than Banns.
A death in strange circumstances and the resulting inquest.
The BBC has a page of photos The Nation's Scrapbook, with images submitted by people and covering a wide variety of subjects.
All just another method of sparking ideas. Though don't forget, the truth can actually be stranger than fiction...