Tale tāl, n. An act of telling: a narrative, story: a false story: a mere story: (in pl.) things told idly or to get others into trouble: reckoning (arch,). (Chambers English Dictionary)
1885. Harriet Marston is one of the very few women up at Oxford University. She is frustrated, however, by the constraints imposed on the female students. They must be chaperoned everywhere they go. They must not meet with any male who isn't a close relative. They may not attend lectures inside the university. They must send a skivvy to borrow any books from the library. They can take exams but will never get a degree.
Harriet and her friend, Vee, are expelled after they play a prank that challenges these constraints.
Harriet owns a book of fairy tales that was written by her beloved grandmother and adds her own tales, telling of feisty women who go on quests and confront monsters and who refuse to marry unless for love.
Harriet's attempt to get the book published and her friendship with the unconventional Vee result in her becoming the heroine of a tale that must never be told.
I have always worked in IT and until October 2019 I was a full-time project manager. Now that I am retired I can focus on the thing I love most - writing. At the age of 40 I did a part-time BA degree in Literature at Warwick, which progressed to an MA and then a PhD, my thesis being "Glimpses of Utopia & Dystopia in Victorian Fairylands". As a result of giving a paper on fairy tales I was approached by a publisher who suggested I gather together some lesser known fairy tales and as a result "Enchanted Ideologies: A Collection of Rediscovered Nineteenth-Century English Moral Fairy Tales" was published by The True Bill Press in 2010. I don't think the book is still available as the publisher went out of business.
During my research I “discovered” Mary De Morgan, a Victorian writer of fairy tales, amongst many other things. I became somewhat obsessed with De Morgan and as I wanted to share my research I wrote "Out of the Shadows: The Life and Works of Mary De Morgan", which was published by Cambridge Scholars Publishing in 2012. Despite my intensive research there were still many gaps in my knowledge - (why didn't she marry, why did she go to Egypt, how did she become a directress of a girls' reformatory) - and because I couldn't let De Morgan, or the act of writing, go I decided to write a fictional novel based on De Morgan’s life - the result being "The Jewel Garden". It is told from the perspective of a fictional character and tells of her fictional relationship with Mary De Morgan. This novel is a labour of love and I am thrilled that William & Whiting published it in February 2018.
My second novel, "Song of the Nightingale" was published in December 2019. It has just WON the Fiction Category of the 2020 International Rubery Book Award. It is a historical novel, set in 18th century Italy that tells of two young boys who are bought from their families, castrated and then trained to be singers. This was something that was actually done at the time, though this story is purely fictional. It is told from the point of view of Philippe, who is the count's secretary and is tasked with taking the boys to Florence and settling them into the conservatoire, which is run by Jesuits. It tells of the boys' journey, of course, but it also tells of love, murderous revenge, deceit and reconciliation.
In early 2020 I completed my third historical novel, "A Teller of Tales," which is with a literary agent, who is looking for a publisher. This is the first book of a trilogy which will tell of four generations of women and their attempts to tell their “her-stories” to a world deaf to the female voice. I am interested in the re-telling of stories, especially the fairy tale, through the centuries, and I want to weave my own throughout the books as a link between the women. I am now working on the second book, "Untold Tales," which I hope to complete by the end of 2020.