Background Info

A little more information about the times and the places featured in my novels.

Amy, The Story of a Coram Foundling

Thomas Coram, a wealthy philanthropist, founded the Foundling Hospital in 1739 at its first site in Hatton Garden until it moved to a permanent building in Bloomsbury in 1745.

It was set to to receive all children whose parents were unable to care for them and at first all babies were admitted but the Hospital's funds soon ran out and admitance rules were introduced. Parents had to meet strict criteria or produce a large donation to the Hospital.

Amy was admitted into the Foundling Hospital in 1784 together with a cheque for £100, as money had started to be accpeted from parents due to lack of funds.

She spent the first five years of her life with a foster family in Stockwell, which was then a small village about three miles away from London, before returning to the Foundling Hospital in 1789.

The Foundling Hospital in the 1750's

Stockwell, depicted in the mid 1700's

Cavendish Square in the 1820's

A the age of 14 Amy is sent to work at Lady Bessborough's house at No.2 Cavendish Square, to the north of the present day Portland Place off of Oxford Circus.

She becomes the personal maid of Lady Caroline Ponsonby, who marries William Lamb and is best known to history as Lady Caroline Lamb. 

Harriet, Lady Bessborough and her sister Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire are both Whig society hostesses and hold lavish salons and dinner parties where all the notable members of the Whig supporting aristocracy attend. 

Amy encounters Lady Bessborough's sons John, Lord Duncannon and Freddy Ponsonby and eventually ends up as a housekeeper to the poet Lord Byron at the Albany in Piccadilly.

Lady Bessborough with her sons John and Freddy Ponsonby

The mentally unstable Lady Caroline Lamb

Lord Byron

After a stint nursing Freddy Ponsonby, who was severely wounded at the Battle of Waterloo, Amy returns as Lord Byron's housekeeper where she witnesses the breakdown of his marriage and ends up living with Lady Byron's solicitor Henry Branham in Brook Street before finding true love with Lord Belmont, a friend of Freddy Ponsonby's and they live together at Grosvenor Square.

Newton Valence parish church where Amy and Freddy Ponsonby met the disapproving eyes of the villagers.

The Foundling uniform that Amy would have worn

Melbourne House, Whitehall. Amy lived here as Lady Caroline Lamb's personal maid

Swallow Street in the early 1800's. It would soon be demolished to make way for Regents Street. Amy made her dismal journey from Melbourne House back to Cavendish Square along here.

Grosvenor Square in the 1810's. Amy would live here with Lord Belmont from the 1820's onwards.

The Albany, Piccadilly. Amy lived here as Byron's housekeeper just before his marriage in 1813. Byron's appartments were on the 1st floor to the left.

Chatsworth House, Derbyshire. The Duke of Devonshire's stately home and scene of Amy's seduction by Lord Duncannon.

Freddy Ponsonby, after he had recovered from the horrific injuries he had received at the Battle of Waterloo. He was Amy's lover for many years. 

Lavender Fields

Emma is born in the area of St Giles known as Seven Dials, the point at which different streets meet at a central circle. St Giles is situated to the west of Bloomsbury and the north of Tottenham Court Road and is one of the most filthy, run down and poverty stricken area of London.

Her family of nine children and two adults live in just one room of Perkins Yard, a former builder's yard which is crumbling and delapidated.

She is sent out to work at the age of ten to number of badly paid charring jobs until she meets Charlie Bateman, a costermonger and joins him working in the busy street market in Seven Dials. 

Emma moves with her family to Mitcahm in Surrey where she finds work cutting lavender in the fields to the north of Mitcham.

She becomes the mistress of the landowner Mark Rivers but having given birth at the young age of 17 sends Emma into a downward mental spiral and she runs away. First joining a family of fairground gypsies and then falling into prostitution, she finds herself in Bedford workhouse where she encounters Dr Edward White, one of her former clients.

He enslaves her at the workhouse but she manages to escape and finds her way back to Seven Dials where she asks Charlie Bateman for help.

He also seeks to control her so she flees and makes her way back to Mitcham where she is finally reunited with her son.

Gustav Dore's famous depiction of Dudley Street in the 1870's. It shows very much how Emma would have looked after her younger siblings before she started work.

Mitcham Station, London Road. Depicted around the same time as when Emma and her family alighted here in the summer of 1873. 

Worker's cottages in Phipps Bridge Road, Mitcham. Similar to the ones Emma and her family were housed in.

Seven Dials as depicted in Booth's Poverty Map of the 1880's.

Great White Lion Street. Emma and Charlie lived here in two rooms above an ironmongers.

The varnish works of William Harland and Sons, Phipps Bridge Road. Similar to Morgan and Pearson, where Alf Pagett worked.

What remains of Bedford Workhouse. Emma was admitted here after suffering a miscarriage brought on by an abortion. She was held prisoner here by Dr White.

Emma is exhibited as a mermaid at a fairground attraction, but it is only a front for prostitution.

The Courtesan and the Mutineer

Polly Turner is born in Black Swan Alley, off of Borough High Street in Southwark in 1768.

She lives with her mother and three elder brothers in a room above the Black Swan Inn, a delapidated and run down coaching inn that was built in the late 1500's and is now falling down.

She is forced by her mother to marry the man who has raped her and she goes to live with him in the equally squalid Angel Alley until he leaves her.

Tricked into prostitution, she goes to live in a stew in Rochester Yard, situated off of New Rents, in the shadow of St Saviour's Church (now Southwark Cathedral).

After managing to escape from the stew, Polly leaves with the stew bully -or doorman- Jerimiah Styles and he starts to pimp her in Covent Garden. She eventually extracts herself from Styles and becomes the lover of Jack Harris, the authour of 'Harris's List of Covent Garden Ladies', the guide book of prostitutes living in and around Covent Garden. Harris retires to the countryside to marry his long term mistress and Polly is kept by the wealthy and flamboyant Irishman James 'Jimmy' Fitzgerald.

Covent Garden, at around the time that Polly lived here was various lovers.

Three St James's courtesans, looking similar to how Polly would have dressed.

Royal Navy ship in the harbour of Tahiti.

Their relationship is volatile and she leaves him for the young and rich Bisham Andrews with whom she falls madly in love. Andrews announces to his family that he is marrying Polly -by this time her husband is dead- so they do all they can to sabotage their relationship and they send him away on his Grand Tour.

A broken hearted and pregnant Polly aborts the child and nearly dies. She is rescued from near death by Fitzgerald and after her recovery she meets Lord Claremont and goes to live with him in St James's Street. 

Lord Claremont leaves her for her friend and fellow courtesan Kitty Murphey and introduces her to the volative and mentally unstable Lord Wyndham. Claremont has a change of heart and takes Polly back and while him and Wyndham are bickering she goes to live with the young Duke of Buckland.

His family come and claim him after he spends vast amounts of money on Polly and he becomes ill.

Polly goes back to Lord Wyndham but is imprisoned by him as he becomes more mentally unbalanced. She is rescued again by Fitzgerald with the help of John Stevens, a friend and caricaturist. They hide out in Clerkenwell and Polly meets the Jamaican sailor Alex Lindo. After a brief affair they marry and Polly is allowed on his ship, first to the West Indies, then to Polynesia.

Polly starts an affair with the first officer Mr Sackville, her husband dies of a fever and the captain finds out about her affair with Sackville.

He puts the pregnant Polly ashore on the island of Otaheila where she is well looked after by the natives. She stays there for two years with her two children until she is rescued by Captain Bright, commander of the HMS Plenty.

Black Swan Alley, Borough High Street.

Rochester Yard, off of New Rents.

Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens. Polly spent many evenings here at the height of her fame as a courtesan.

Polly fitted in very well in Otaheila, especailly with their sexual customs.

All seems to be going well until the enigmatic and troubled master's mate, Mr Fitzroy Jefferson stages a mutiny and puts Captain Bright and those not involved in the mutany in a boat and sets them adrift. Polly and her children are kept on the ship and she is dragged around the South Seas with the mutineers of the Plenty until they finally settle on the uninhabited island of St Patrick's.

The mutineers are captured after three years on St Patrick's and taken back to England for trial and in the ship is Mr Sackville, who has spent his whole life looking for Polly, now they are reunited.

Out of the Darkness

Laura lives in Saffron Hill, Clerkenwell with her mother who is a prostitute and her violent step-father who is also her pimp.

He subjects both her and her mother to horrendous cruelty and violence, often locking Laura in a cupboard for days with no food where she sits in her own filth.

After one violent attack, Laura manages to escape the filthy room they all live in and run away where she is persued by her step-father.

Mr Carnegie, a wealthy philanthropist, is passing in his carriage and witnesses Laura being attacked.

Saffron Hill, depicted the same time as when Laura lived here.

An outraged Mr Carnegie, takes the badly battered and bruised Laura home with him to No. 2 Charles Street where she is slowly nursed back to health. Mr Carnegie negotiates to a financial settlement with Laura's stepfather and he adopts her. She looks no more than a five years old child but she is really ten years-old and she undergoes years of adjusting to life living as a normal human and not an animal.

When Laura is twelve, Mr Carnegie takes Laura to Bartholmew Fair and on the way back home in the carriage, he molests her and tells her to tell no one.

Bartholomew Fair in 1810

The Carnegie's relocate to Clapham as Mrs Carnegie's health is deteriorating and Mr Carnegie's abuse of Laura escalates. Mrs Carnegie becomes a member of the Clapham Sect, a group of Evangelical social reformers and abolishonists that worship at Holy Trinity, Clapham Common. The Carnegie's live on 'The Cedars', a house overlooking Clapham Common but Mrs Carnegie succombs to the consumption she is suffering from and dies.

A lonely Laura, who has no friends or companions to play with, seeks solace on walking on Clapham Common when Mr Carnegie is absent on frequent business trips.

Clapham Common, at the time when the Carnegies' live here.

Holy Trinity, Clapham Common where the Clapham Sect worshiped.

Laura meets Richard Lawrence, who is leasing the lodge of the next door Clapham Hall. They start an affair and when she becomes pregnant they run away together. When Mr Carnegie learns about it he persues Laura until he finally finds them in Liverpool where they are awaiting a ship to America but Richard is killed in an accident and Mr Carnegie takes Laura back to Clapham. When he learns about her condition he proposes marriage and they move to Marham Square off of Kings Road, Chelsea.

Laura gives birth to Lawrence's son, she marries Mr Carnegie and has a daughter. Her life seems happy until Laura receives a visit Edward Clifford, a former business aquaintance of Mr Carnegie who had previously proposed to and had been rejected by her.

He is now married to the daughter of a wealthy northern mill owner and tracks the Carnegie's down where he extracts his revenge on Laura.

He rapes her when she is still nursing her six month-old daughter and continues to do so, threatening her that he will tell Mr Carnegie, until she becomes pregnant by him.

Clifford gleefully tells Mr Carnegie about Laura's condition and he has a heart attack and dies three days later.

Cliffords wife finds out and leaves him, also finding out that he has squandered her fortune and owes thousands of pounds in debts. He then moves in with Laura and sets about spending her money on paying off his debts and on various failed business ventures. 

Markham Square

Clifford becomes increasingly violent towards Laura and she miscarries the child she is carrying. Fearing for the safety of her two children, she sends them to their former nurse, whom Clifford had previously dismissed, and Mr Carnegie's solicitor becomes suspicious of Laura giving Clifford large amounts of money. He sends his junior partner John Sampson to deal with Laura and any money transactions that occur and after a while they fall in love whereby she reveals to him the extent of Clifford's abuse.

They arrange Laura's flight from Clifford and meet in Brussels where she is reunited with her two children. They become lovers and after they here of Clifford's suicide they return to England where they marry. Laura's long journey in darkness ends when she walks into the bright sunlight of true love.