Julia Herdman writes historical fiction and non-fiction.
Tales of Tooley Street – a series of novels set in 18th century London. Tales of Tooley Street is a work of fiction inspired by a family of apothecary surgeons who lived and worked at No. 65 Tooley Street in the London borough of Southwark.
The Numbers of Thoth – a book on the archaeology and religion of the Ancient Egyptians. The Numbers of Thoth is non-fiction.
Fiction: Sinclair Vol. One Tales of Tooley Street
Sinclair is Julia’s debut novel and is the first book in the Tales of Tooley Street series. The series is inspired by a real family of apothecary surgeons who lived in Southwark in the 18th century. Sinclair is a fiction inspired by countless Scottish doctors who came to work in London charity hospitals in the Georgian Period.
The story begins with Edinburgh surgeon James Sinclair boards the ill-fated ship the Sherwell with Captain Frank Greenwood of the Bengal Army. The two men are on their way to India to make their fortunes. But when the storm of the century blows in January 1786 James and Frank are two of few survivors. With everything they own at the bottom of the sea they are forced back to London.
At the same time Charlotte Leadam is on her way back to London from Yorkshire. Whilst in Yorkshire her husband became ill and died. Now she is a young widow with a teenage son, an apothecary shop and her husbands debts. Thus, Charlotte finds herself emotionally exhausted and struggling to survive. While she is considering what to do her mother engages Mrs Peacock, a banker’s wife from the City, to find her daughter a financially advantageous marriage.
When Charlotte meets Sinclair they take an instant dislike to each other. But later Charlotte sees that they might be able to help each other. The pair strike a bargain and Sinclair proves to be a caring and astute doctor. He trains his apprentices well and is good for business. Living in the attic rooms over the shop the lives of Sinclair and Charlotte become entwined. Consequently their feelings for one another grow. All seems well until Iona McNeal, the woman Sinclair once loved, appears unexpectedly in London. Then their selfish behaviour threatens them all.
With his hopes of a relationship with Charlotte dashed Sinclair reaches his lowest ebb. He descends into melancholy and drink. He want’s to reclaim Charlotte’s love but he does not know how. The opportunity to redeem himself occurs when he help to save her family in Yorkshire from disaster but Charlotte is so angry with him she does not acknowledge what he has done. The moment of catharsis comes when Sinclair is injured and Charlotte comes to his aid.
The politics of class and poverty in 18th century London are vividly described in this story of ambition, love and betrayal. The period is beautifully bought to life through Julia’ detailed research and fast moving story telling. The history of medicine is told hand in hand with a story of love, sexual desire and emotional betrayal in London, Yorkshire and Edinburgh.
Available in Paperback and Ebook
World English digital rights: The Fontaine Press, All other rights available