The forgotten children of London are going missing, apparently being sold by their own families. Can she save them before it’s too late…
Flora Maguire’s life is perfect – a beautiful home in Belgravia teeming with servants, a loving husband, and new baby Arthur to enjoy. But when she is invited to tour St Philomena’s Children’s Hospital in deprived Southwark, she gets a harsh insight into the darker side of Edwardian London.
Shocked by the conditions people are living in, she soon uncovers a scandal with a dark heart – children are going missing from the hospital, apparently sold by their own families, and their fate is too awful to imagine. With the police seemingly unable or unwilling to investigate, Flora teams up with the matron of the hospital, Alice Finch, to try to get to the bottom of it.
Soon Flora is immersed in the seedy, dangerous underbelly of criminal London, and time is running out to save the children. Will they get to them in time, or was their fate decided the day they were born poor…
Born in London, Anita has always had a penchant for all things historical. She now lives in the beautiful Cotswolds, the backdrop for her Flora Maguire mysteries.
Author Guest Post
I began this article with the question, “Where do I get my inspiration for my novels?” I suppose the easiest answer is I go looking for one.
I chose to write historical cosy mysteries as I love reading them, and especially enjoy the research part of the process. My stories are character driven, therefore the victim is of lesser importance as the reader doesn’t invest any emotion in them as they don’t feature other than as a victim. More important is what lead to the murder in the first place and how Flora solves the crime.
I like to set the stories in places I know, walking my characters through familiar territory and marking the changes that have taken place in the last hundred and sixty years. In The Forgotten Children, Tower Bridge is less than ten years old and its presence impacted on the area in that the Subway beside it, the first railway tunnel built under the Thames in the 1860’s, was rendered redundant and fell into disuse.
The hardest part is not overloading my story with all the historical information I come across as my readers are unlikely to be as absorbed with the finer details as I am. I have to keep reminding myself I am not writing a history book!
For the fourth book in the series I wanted to take my comfortable, middle class heroine sleuth into a darker side of London life than what she is used to. I chose child abduction because in 1905, the Slavery Act was a relatively new concept. At that time, especially those that were poor and underprivileged had little protection. It was not only legal, but commonplace for ten-year olds to work a nine hour day in factories and on farms.
I discovered the Historical Hospital Admission Records website that, from patient records of the time, many children were admitted to as a result of accidents from machinery, and in falls off tradesmen’s carts. Amongst the records, I was also thrilled to find a great aunt of mine who was admitted to Great Ormond Street Hospital in 1890 at the age of seven and stayed a month. I checked my family tree record and was relieved to see she married, had two sons and lived to be 76.
Then there were those that were traded for immoral purposes. Flora, like many women of her class were protected by a silent wall that deemed such subjects as unsuitable for tea party conversations. That such things only occurred among the poor and indigent, and so it was unfortunate but somehow accepted.
I didn’t delve too deeply into the worst of what happened to these children that were alluded to, though I tried to impart some of the misery of families who could barely afford to feed an ever-increasing brood.
As in The Forgotten Children, maybe parents driven to such lengths were coerced, not out of evil or disinterest, but because they needed to believe that the youngsters were being taken to better lives. Or maybe I should leave the reader to make up their own mind about that?
Historical Hospital Admission Records Project
Anita’s Blog – http:thedisorganisedauthor.blogspot.co.uk
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/anita.davison
Twitter – https://twitter.com/AnitaSDavison
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