Background Info

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

 
Amy, The Story of a Coram Foundling. Front Cover
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.

Coram's Foundling Hospital in 1750

The Foundling Hospital in the 1750's

Stockwell. 18th Century

Stockwell, depicted in the mid 1700's

Cavendish Square. 1820

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. John and Freddy Ponsonby
Lady Caroline Lamb

The mentally unstable Lady Caroline Lamb

Lord Byron

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.

Coram's Foundling Hospital Girls' Uniform

The Foundling uniform that Amy would have worn

Melbourne House. Whitehall

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

Grosvenor Square. 1810

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

Chatsworth House
Swallow Street

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.

Freddy Ponsonby

Lady Bessborough with her sons John and Freddy Ponsonby

Newton Valence Church

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

The Albany

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. Front Cover
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 Buildings, a former builder's yard which is crumbling and delapidated.

She is sent out to work at the age of ten to a 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 Mitcham 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.

Dudley Street

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. 1873

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

Phipps Bridge Road

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

Bedford Workhouse

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.

Mermaid

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

St Giles

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

Great White Lion Street

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

Varnish Works

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

 
The Courtesan and the Mutineer
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

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

Courtesans

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

Tahiti

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

Black Swan Alley, Borough High Street.

Rochester Yard

Rochester Yard, off of New Rents.

Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens

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

Otaheila

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. Front Cover
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

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 a financial settlement with Laura's stepfather and he adopts her. She looks no more than a five year-old child but she is really ten years-old, she then 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.

Batholomew's Fair

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 in '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

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

Holy Trinity. Clapham

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 of 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

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.

 
The Beast Catcher

 

It's 1820, and William Henry Oakley returns to his family home, Oakley Hall, in Surrey, after the death of his estranged father. He has been raised all of his life by his kindly maternal uncle and aunt, after the death of his mother in childbirth. A true child of the enlightenment, Will has been studying at a university in Switzerland, and returns to claim his inheritance as he is father's only heir.

He finds the village of Great Oakley in a shocking and neglected state, and his father's tenents living in miserable squalour, which he sets about immediatly rectifiying. The villagers are also superstitious, inward-looking, and totally oblivious to any events beyond their own village. They tell tales of a dark and maleviolent demon, that they call 'The Beast', who lives in the ancient forest that surronds the Oakley estate and village. There have been numerous sightings by the villagers, as well as items of food and clothing stolen.

The Beast Catcher. Front Cover

Will dismisses this as just superstitious nonsense, until one day when he is riding in the forest he finds and catches 'The Beast', who he soon finds out, is a feral female child of around the age of sixteeen .

He names her Flora, and sets about trying to rehabilitate and humanise her, for she has been living and surviving in the forest for the past six years, and has become at one with nature. The process is long and laborious, but as Flora slowly starts to become 'human' again, a relationship starts between them. Will then finds out that Flora is a gypsy child whose parents and younger brother were murdered by his father because they had transpassed on his land. Flora managed to run away and hide inside an ancient oak tree in the forest, and survive.

She gives birth to their son, and initially Will takes the child away from her, as he thinks she isn't human enough to care for him. He changes his mind, returns the child and they marry.

All seems happy and fine between Flora and Will, as she slowly adapts to her new human life, but tragedy strikes when their beloved son dies. Flora is mad with grief, and the day after the child's burial, she disappears along with the body of her dead child whom she has exhumed.

They are never seen again, and Will dies broken hearted and alone, leaving no heirs. The Oakley estate is inherited by Will's cousin, an East Indian merchant, who is father to many illegitimate half-Indian offspring, but none legitimate, and on his death, the estate is sold off to a noveau riche arms manufacturer. His spinster granddaughters survive there until the begining of the 1950's, when the estate is then sold for redevelopment as a housing estate.

It is only with the destruction of the ancient Oakley forest that Flora's fate is finally revealed.

Ashtead Common

Ancient oak tree in Ashtead Common, Surrey

 
La Bella Visconti
La Bells Visconti. Front Cover

Catherine Visconti is born in London in 1468. She is the daughter of Italian merchant Tomaso Visconti, a cousin of Fillipo Maria, Duke of Milan, and Catherine Stanley, a member of the large Stanley clan and lady-in-waiting to Queen Elizabeth Woodville, wife of Edward IV. Tomaso dies shortly after little Catherine's birth, and her mother places her in the care of the nuns of St Helen's, Bishopsgate, and then returns to her duties at court.

When Catherine, or Kate as she is known, is sixteen, she meets her cousin Giovanni Visconti, and the two fall in love. Giovanni's father opens marriage negotiations with the Stanley family, but the greedy Stanleys fear the loss of Kate's substantial wealth, so instead, betroth her to her cousin Richard Stanley.

On meeting her for the first time, Richard becomes drunk, mocks her, rapes and attacks her and then leaves her for dead. When he realises what he's done, and hearing that King Edward has ordered his arrest, her flees to Flanders, and lies low.

Fillipo Maria Visconti

Fillipo Maria, the last Visconti Duke of Milan.

St Helen's. Bishopsgate

St Helen's, Bishopsgate.

On discovering that Kate is pregnant, her mother and the rest of the Stanleys force her to marry Lord Stanley, a widower twenty years older than her. She miscarries the child, and is forced to endure a miserable loveless marriage with Lord Stanley, until intervention from the Duke of Milan, who persuades him to allow Kate to live apart from him.

She leaves chilly and damp Leicestershire, and purchases an estate for herself in Sussex, where she lives alone and in utter bliss. Edward IV dies, and is succeeded by his son Edward V, who is quickly deposed by his uncle Richard, Duke of Gloucester. The new king, Richard III, recalls his childhood friend Richard Stanley from exile, where he has been serving in the Burgundian army, he establishes himself at court,  and then quickly marries an heiress, Alice Bonville.

Kate's mother dies, and she returns to London as she has inherited her mother's house in Queenhythe. King Richard, hearing of her piety and beauty, invites her to court and persuades her to become the guardian and protector of his neice Elizabeth of York, who is now living at court.

She meets her cousin Richard Stanley, whom she hasn't seen for ten years, ever since the day of his attack on her. Richard starts to fall in love with her, and he persues her, until he realises that he has a rival in the form of King Richard, who starts to show an interest in her after the death of his wife, Queen Ann.

Elizabeth of York, and the rest of the kings nephews and neices are sent to live at Sheriff Hutton in Yorkshire, and it is here that King Richard is about to declare his love for Kate, when news is brought to him of Henry Tudor's invation.

Kate, realising that she is in love with Richard Stanley,  and that he is with the  king's army in Leicestershire, visits him in the camp, and the two consumate their relationship. The next day King Richard is defeated and killed at the Battle of Bosworth, her husband is also killed, and Richard Stanley flees, once again, to the Burgundian court. Kate gives birth to Richard's daughter, whom she names Elizabeth, after her beloved charge who is now Queen Elizabeth, wife to Henry VII.

Fourteen years later in 1500, Queen Elizabeth persuades her husband to allow Richard Stanley to return to England from his exile in Burgundy, after the death of his wife Alice the year before. Kate and Richard reunite, and he meets his daughter for the first time. They marry, and Kate has three sons. She dies in 1528, at the height of Henry VIII's 'Great Matter', and just before her beloved Catholic church is swept away forever by Henry's religious reforms.   

Richard III

Richard III, whose body was found under a car park in Leicester.

Battle of Bosworth

Artist's impression of the Battle of Bosworth, fought in 1485.

 
Lady Anna
Lady Anna. Front Cover

Anna is born in St John's Wood, in 1868. Her father is the Earl of Hartly, and her mother is his mistress, Annie Shaw, a former milliner. She grows up in Avenue Road, in the villa of her birth, which is discreetly hidden behind stategically placed trees, with her mother and largly absent father, a dissolute gambler and drunkard.

Her father becomes involved in a fraud concerning railway shares, and puts them in Annie's name. When he needs to sell them to make a fortune, Annie refuses to hand over the shares until he marries her. He begrudgingly does so, also in the hope that she will give him a male heir, but the heir never arrives, and he soon squanders all of the money.

Lord Hartley sinks deeper into alcoholism and debt, until he owes a gambling crony, Gerald, Lord Albury, £10,000. Hearing Hartley has a beautiful young daughter, he proposes that he marry her in order to cancal the debt, as he is in his mid-fifties and without an heir. Hartley jumps at the chance and hands over his daughter without a second thought.

St John's Wood

Avenue Road, St John's Wood in the 1880's

Eaton Square

Anna, at the age of sixteen, is told she will be marrying a fifty-five year-old man, by her mother. She has always been cold, unloving, and jealous of her daughter, fearing she will make a better life for herself due to her position as an earl's daughter. So, Anna marries Lord Albury and goes to live with him at his house in Eaton Square. She has bearly been educated, and is unwordly and naive, but she is surprised to find that Lord Albury is very kind, considerate and caring. He has a large library and encourages her to start reading, and apart from spending most evenings out gambling, he is very attentive to her. He is desperate for an heir, but as the years pass, Anna does not become pregnant, and Lord Albury becomes impotent after a mild stroke. As Anna approaches twenty, and his health starts to deteriorate, he comes up with the idea that his cousin, the sixty-year-old Jocelyn Albury, a colonel in the Indian Army, father the child. Jocelyn Albury brags about his hareem in India, and of the twenty-five children he has sired, but after the second night together with Anna, he dies of a heart attack whilst in bed with her.

Lord Albury then puts all his hope in Jack, the Marquis of Teesdale, and heir to the Duke of Northborough. Jack is young, good-looking, healthy and fit, and he manages to convince him to start sleeping with Anna in exchange for him forgiving money he owes to him. Jack soon falls in love with Anna, and tries to persuade her to run away with him, she refuses and tells Lord Albury.

Eaton Sqaure, SW1

Nice

The Promenade des Anglais, Nice.

Lord Albury decides to take Anna away to the South of France for an extended holiday, in order that Jack Teesdale should forget her. They settle in Nice, and as Lord Albury's health and mobilty worsens, Anna is left increasingly to her own devices. She meets Louis Vernier, the half-French, half-English secretary of a recently deceased English guest at the hotel they are staying in. Louis is young and very attractive, and at first, acts as her interpreter, as she speeks no French, and it's not long before they start an affair. They both fall in love, and for the first time in her life, Anna is sleeping with someone who she actually loves. She tells Lord Albury of the affair, and he calmly accepts it as he is bedridden by this time. Anna becomes pregnant, and Lord Albury arranges for them all to go back to England, where he leases a house near Dover.

Anna gives birth to a son, and Lord Albury, has at long last, the heir that he desires. His name is put on the birth certificate as the father of the child, but he soon becomes aware that Anna and Louis are deeply in love, and have started sleeping together again. He also resents how close the bond is between Louis and little Gerry, the baby. He sends Louis away, and a heartbroken Anna is left to nurse her sick husband and look after the baby without Louis.

Lord Albury dies, and Anna goes to stay, with Gerry, at Albury Hall, Lord Albury's country estate in Wiltshire, where she meets Richard Greenwood, a well-to--do tenent farmer. He immediatly falls in love with her, and as a distraction from being parted from Louis, she starts an affair with him. She has to go to London to sign paperwork, and whilst staying in Eaton Square she meets Jack Teesdale again. His father has died and he is now the Duke of Northborough. He pays court to her and they start an affairr, she becomes pregnant by him and he proposes to her. She has no choice but to accept as she is carrying his child, but she is bombarded by letters from Richard Greenwood pleading her to return to Wiltshire. Louis Vernier also turns up, out of work and half-starved, and she gives him money.  

Richard Greenwood appears in Eaton Square, and she has to tell him the baby and her marriage, and he eventually leaves for Wiltshire. Anna marries Jack, and persuades him to employ Louis Vernier as her personal secretary, and then all three live at Jack's house in Belgrave Square. 

 
The Fat Suit
The Fat Suit

Overweight Alison is living with Gary in a small rented flat. She works long hours and pays all of the bills, while Gary sits down all day, pays for nothing, and does nothing apart from watch the TV all day and half the night. He says he can't work due to his bad back. He constantly mocks and belittles Alison over her weight, is controlling and abusive towards her on all levels.

One day, at work, Alison meets Steve Powell, and falls madly in love with him. He hardly notices her, and never speaks to her, and she thinks it's because he can't see through the fat suit she is burdened with wearing.

She embarks on a year-long diet and exercise regime, mocked and ridiculed by Gary, until she becomes the perfect size 10. Now Steve will see her without her fat suit, and will start to notice her. Unfortunatly nothing changes, and he still continues to ignore her. All of her dreams and plans of a perfect happy life with him have come to nothing. Then he leaves the company they both work for, and she never sees him again.

With her hopes and dreams dashed, losing the weight as given her a new found confidence to finally leave the vile and abusive Gary, and to start her new life without the fat suit.