It might be hard to believe that I tried to cull my cast of thousands in Barefoot on the Cobbles but I did and Violet was one of the candidates. She remained in the novel’s pages for two reasons, firstly because to expunge her would have left an unnaturally large gap in Albert and Polly’s family. More importantly, I needed to use the true story of her illness to explain Polly’s reaction to her other children’s ill-health. My interest in the history of medicine meant that I enjoyed researching symptoms and the likely treatments of the time.
Violet was born on the 12 June 1903 in Clovelly. She suffered from rheumatic fever as a child and was never very strong. She married Walter Daniel in 1925 and lived firstly in Upper Clovelly and later in Bideford; the couple had no children but her brother, Bertie, lived with the Daniels after the death of his parents. Violet died in 1977.
‘The next days were a frenzy of fear, as Violet lay, feverish and lethargic, in the bed that she shared with Daisy. Daisy squeezed in with the boys, so that Violet was undisturbed but still the little girl whimpered and moaned. Reluctantly, they sent for Dr Ackland, whose solemnity betrayed the seriousness of Violet’s condition.’
Barefoot on the Cobbles will be published on 17 November 2018. More information about the novel can be found here. Copies will be available at various events in the weeks following the launch or can be pre-ordered from Blue Poppy Publishing or the author.