28. Nov, 2020

The story behind the story

Anyone who has read 'Jude & Bliss' would have seen the reference in my author note to Emily Jane Popejoy, a young girl from Bagshot, Surrey who left her family home to take up a position in domestic service at a prestigious address in Victorian London.

I first became aware of Emily’s plight in 1994 when I visited the Surrey Heath Museum’s stand at the annual summer fayre in Bisley. The story somehow stuck and eventually proved to be the inspiration behind my latest novel.

Emily Jane, known locally as just Jane, was the sixth child of George Popejoy, a carpenter, and his wife Rose, of Jenkins Hill, Bagshot. Like many young girls across the country, on leaving school she went into domestic service, eventually taking a position with a Mrs Camilla Nicholls at 14 Pitt Street, Kensington in 1896.

It was clear I could never fully base my new book on Emily's 19th-century situation. The real facts were unclear and there were also the moral implications to consider. I had to respect her immediate family and their descendants, as well as her legacy which is now a strong part of Surrey folklore.

‘Jude & Bliss’ draws on the worst-case scenario, indeed, during my research, I discovered numerous young girls and women had suffered abuse and had even died at the hands of their employers. Fortunately, but far too late for some, government legislation was put in place just after the turn of the century to prevent further exploitation by those employing domestic servants. 'Jude & Bliss', is just one girl's tragic story. BUY NOW

As stated in the synopsis, ‘Jude & Bliss’, is NOT for the faint-hearted.


Pic: Emily Popejoy's grave & memorial at Bagshot Cemetery