In 1996, having moved with my artist husband to Northampton from rural Wales, and discovering that many of the Welsh drovers who’d actually passed through our village on their way to England, ended up in south Northamptonshire or went on from there to be sold at Spitalfields in London. In those days before 1832 and the start of the railways. The Bank of the Black Ox in Llandovery was the drovers’ bank, later to become Lloyd’s.
Even Northampton’s Mayor didn’t know of this drovers’ connection to his town, but in the Records Office I found vivid descriptions of thirsty herds passing through hamlets and other settlements ‘licking puddles in the roads’ while ‘nursemaids hurriedly ordered children indoors’ because the terrifying scene was like something from America’s Wild West.
All I needed, and when I also learnt that girls as young as twelve would often accompany these male-dominated droves to find work in English country houses, then Cloven began to form in my mind. What sealed it, was driving through these same places at night back and fore to my adult education classes. Past homes where people had been killed by the ‘Culworth Gang’ later to be hanged. Where danger still seemed to lurk around every corner.
In 2002, Cloven was first published by PanMacmillan as part of a two-book deal with Wringland. So that dreaded move to suburbia proved to be a big turning point in my life and ‘nothing is wasted’ still remains my motto.
Get your copy of Cloven HERE!