Sands of Alexandria

sphinx face

Cleopatra’s Needle is a familiar London landmark. Almost seventy feet high, the red granite obelisk stands on Victoria Embankment on the north side of the Thames and is flanked by two faux-Egyptian sphinxes. It is arguably the dominant feature of the Embankment on the north side of the river. The […]

The Past In Another Country

Ghoreeyah street, Cairo by John Frederick Lewis

My novel THE SACRED RIVER is the story of three Victorian women who leave a fogbound London for the light and heat of Egypt, trying to escape a prophesied death. None can return unchanged and at least one can never return. In the two years it took me to write […]

Watts Chapel

On a recent visit to the Watts Chapel in Compton near Guildford in the south of England, I was struck by how Arabic the decoration appears. In Islamic art, one would not find the human faces but the fluid grace of the lines is strongly reminiscent of Arabic calligraphy. The […]

Victorian Packing

Egg_Travelling_Companions_1862

  One of the enjoyable parts of researching and writing The Sacred River was thinking about what the three characters take with them. Leaving London in thick fog, in January 1882, Harriet, Louisa and Yael all have different hopes and fears about their journey and their destination – Egypt. Each packs […]

Isle of Avalon

Morgan le Fay by Anthony Frederick Sandys (1864)

In the south west of England, Glastonbury Tor is visible for miles all around, rising up like an island out of the surrounding flat and marshy lands of the Somerset Levels. St Michael’s Tower stands on the top of Tor, and on this spot – in 1539 – Henry V111 had […]

Bluebell Line

NoW

The characters in my new novel make two railway journeys, including one from London to Southampton at the start of their journey to Egypt. Wanting to experience riding on a steam train, to have a better feeling of what it might have been like for them, I went for a […]

‘Be very persevering…’

Charles Dickens' desk and chair

Gad’s Hill is the name of the house in Kent where Charles Dickens lived at the end of his life, where he wrote works including Great Expectations, A Tale of Two Cities and the unfinished Mystery of Edwin Drood - and where he died in the year 1870. As a boy, Dickens had […]

Squatter’s Cottage

squatter's cottage

This cottage, part of the Blists Hill Victorian town museum in Shropshire, is a reconstruction of a real squatter’s cottage, using the original materials and design. Victorian squatters were typically people who’d come from other parts of the country looking for work in the coal and clay pits, the brick […]

Dr Diamond’s Photographs

Photograph of a patient at Springfield county asylum by Dr Hugh Diamond.  By kind permission of the Royal Society of Medicine.

The Painted Bridge is now out in paperback, in a beautiful new jacket. I first posted this piece on the inspiration behind the novel last year, but am putting it up again to mark the paperback publication. One of the themes of The Painted Bridge is learning to see. The heroine, Anna […]

The Painted Bridge Video

120320-370m

We decided to make a trailer of around 90 seconds in length for The Painted Bridge. My husband and my older son are photographers and film-makers so we did it in-house.   First, we chose an actress. Sarine Sofair, with her pale skin and clear eyes, her long naturally-red hair, […]