Harpenden author celebrates debut historical novel

Pamela Mann at her book launch.

Pamela Mann at her book launch. - Credit: Archant

An author from Harpenden held a book launch in a church to celebrate her debut historical novel.

Pamela Mann at her book launch.

Pamela Mann at her book launch. - Credit: Archant

Pamela Mann, of Park Mound, wrote The Birth of Gossip, a novel about a 16th century midwife who is accused of witchcraft. The protagonist, Margory, becomes the subject of gossip and speculation when none of the babies or mothers she cares for die in childbirth.

The novel was launched by the rector Canon Dennis Stamps at St Nicholas Church in Harpenden, which Pamela attends.

Pamela, who has taught creative writing for 23 years, said: “It went really well. There was a good turnout of people. We finished by having questions from the floor and they had a lot of questions so that was really good.

“The main character is accused of witchcraft by the other midwives. On a personal front she really wants to meet a man, fall in love with him and have a big family. She is an only child and she’s plain, she comes from a wealthy family and the local gentry aren’t interested.

The Birth of Gossip.

The Birth of Gossip. - Credit: Archant

“Her father’s manservant is handsome and she decides that he’s the one she’s going to have,”

One of Pamela’s inspirations in writing the story was the play The Crucible by Arthur Miller, which is about the Salem Witch Trials. She said: “I am really keen on fairness and justice and witchcraft has been around since BC.”

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At the launch, Pamela read the blurb and the first chapter of her novel, and her publisher Keith Abbott, of Michael Terence Publishing, interviewed her in front of the audience.

Pamela, who currently teaches at Oaklands College and is a member of Verulam Writers, explained how she conducted historical research over seven years to write the novel.

She said: “Henry VIII brought in a Witchcraft Act. Elizabeth I made that act much more secure and it wasn’t repealed until 1951.

“Some writers like research and don’t like writing. I really enjoyed both. Some times you have to stop if you start going down an interesting path and it’s not relevant. I’ve always been interested in history.”

The Birth of Gossip is Pamela’s first published work of fiction, but she has always worked as a writer and editor.