09:19AM, Saturday 27 October 2012
Author Essie Fox discovered a personal tragedy in her own family while researching her latest book.
Essie, 50, of Clarence Road, Windsor - a lifelong enthusiast for all things Victorian - was finding out about 19th century foundling hospitals, brothels, freak shows and asylums while working on her book 'Elijah's Mermaid'.
But a chance remark by her mother set her on the trail of her own great grandmother's fate, as an inmate in an asylum.
She said: "I discovered she had been put there for erratic behaviour. Her children were all farmed out to other members of the family and I learned most of the facts from cousins.
"They did not discover until she died that she had been suffering from a brain tumour. By the time my poor grandfather had managed to arrange transport to collect her body she had been buried in an unmarked grave with numerous other inmates."
Essie's first book 'The Somnambulist' attracted attention earlier this year when it was reviewed on the TV show The Cactus TV Book Club.
Her latest is a similarly dark tale about a young girl brought up in a brothel and her life-changing relationship with a pair of cosseted twins, whose fates interlink with hers.
Essie brought up her daughter Letty while earning a living from home as an illustrator, designing everything from greetings cards to wallpaper. She started writing when her daughter, now 27, left home.
Elijah's Mermaid is published by the Orion Publishing Group, priced at £7.99 and available from Amazon and Waterstones.
Essie is taking part in the Thames Valley Festival of History at the Windsor Guildhall, at 7.30pm on Tuesday, November 13.
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