Wednesday, 12 August 2015

A woman has three choices



























Covent Garden, long a centre for hedonistic pleasure, is a dirty melting pot of whores and harridans, aristocrats and artisans, actors and drunks. It is 1769 and these are violent times. Prostitute, Kitty Ives, takes a man to her bed and wakes to find him dead atop her. Fearing the gallows, so begins Kitty's quest to uncover the identity of the murderer. Will she be successful? Or will she be convicted of a murder she did not commit?

The idea for the series came from a play I'd written called Scratching Fanny of Cock Lane. Scratching Fanny was a 'real' ghost, and Cock Lane a real street near Smithfield. In the early 1760s Dr. Samuel Johnson was called to investigate the ghostly goings on. It was reported in James Boswell's Life of Johnson. 

I've written about the history of the Theatre Royal Drury Lane from the 16th century through to the present day. I've also written  about the 5th Marquis of Hastings, which was set in the mid 19th century, called The Pocket Venus, and I have also penned scripts about Alex Smith, who one of the Bounty mutineers. This was set at the beginning of the 19th century  and called The Last Mutineer. All were for TV/film. My book Some Strange Scent of Death was set in 1900, and the Cock Lane play, mentioned above, in 1763.

I chose the 1760s after studying the period carefully, and coming to a conclusion about the state of crime and prostitution in Covent Garden at that time.  It was an exciting period. The Fielding Brothers had established the first detective service in the Bow Street Runners. The Seven-Years War had just ended. There were riots in London over the influx of French silk workers. America was about to become a nation. Secret Gentlemen's Clubs abounded. Ben Franklin and others had made electrical experiments. Grave robbing was common-place. Captain Cook had just sailed for Tahiti to observe the Transit of Venus. King George III had ascended the throne, and more women wrote and published novels than did men.