Write a book on the beach?

I often get asked how is it that someone who devoted their career to Early American history, especially the 17th century, came to write a book about beach cultures from Rome to the present day.  My answer is always the same–by accident and certainly not by design.  When I left UCSD and moved to the Huntington Library as Director of Research I was often called upon to give lectures.  My last book had been about piracy so I was asked to talk about that a lot besides typical Colonial subjects such as Puritanism.  Needless to say the public preferred piracy to Puritanism and so I became bored with the subject and finally gave my “Last Piracy Talk” and I meant it.  So I was always on the lookout for a good subject that could be turned into a lecture.  I bumped into Alain Corbin’s The Lure of the Sea: Discovery of the Seaside in the Western World, 1750 to 1840, in a bookstore and it seemed to me there was a possible lecture there. I expanded his time frame and gave a public lecture on “The Origins of Beach Culture.”  That would have been that except that there was a Los Angeles Times editor in the audience who thought it would make a good story for the paper.  In turn, an editor and friend Monica McCormick, of the University of California Press saw the story and thought the subject would make a good picture book.  I agreed and while I continued to be an administrator I did search out images everywhere I went.  Then I retired and my archival instincts took over.  For the first time in years I could indulge my love of archival research and suddenly it was no longer a matter of a largely English story of the 18th and 19th century but rather more sweeping–Rome to the present day and beaches everywhere.  So unlike my other work this book grew like topsy and went far beyond the original intent.  But I have to say that I really enjoyed it.