Sunday, September 5, 2021

Book cover: "The Extraordinary Margaret Catchpole"

  • Title: The Extraordinary Margaret Catchpole
  • Author: Ruth Manning-Sanders (1888-1988)
  • Cover illustrator:
    The name written on the illustration looks like Jane Paton. There's no credit given on the dust jacket or inside the book. And I can't find anything connecting her to this book in Google searches. There is an illustrator from this era named Jane Paton, though, so that's probably the best guess. There are no interior illustrations in this book.
  • Publisher: William Heineman Ltd., London
  • Printer: Latimer Trend & Co. Ltd., Plymouth
  • Year: 1966
  • Pages: 222
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Dust jacket price: 21 shillings (Very roughly, I think that's the equivalent of about £20 today. Please correct me if I'm wrong.)
  • Dust jacket excerpt: The true story of a girl who was born in obscurity and became notorious through her loyalty to a worthless man. Margaret Catchpole was born in Suffolk, the daughter of a farm labourer in the days when farm labourers were lucky if they earned 10 shillings a week.
  • So Catchpole was real? Yes. She lived from 1762 to 1819. When I cited her Wikipedia page last year, she was described there as "an English adventuress, chronicler and criminal." That line has been revised and now describes her as "a Suffolk servant girl, chronicler and deportee to Australia."
  • Author's note: This is a true story. Margaret Catchpole was a real girl, and all the happenings in this book really happened. A word should be said about the use of the term coastguard. Actually the coastguard service did not come into being until 1831. Before that, the men who performed the same duties were known by various names: as preventive men, revenue men, coast-officials, excise men, or (if mounted) riding officers. But for the sake of clarity, it seemed best to use the more familiar word coastguards.
  • First paragraph: 'Lord save us! Whoa-o-oh, Punch! Whey-e-eh there! Whoa-o-oh!'
  • Last sentence: And so, knowing her valiant to the last, we take our leave of her: the guileless, warm-hearted, and astonishingly brave Margaret Catchpole, whose tragic fate it was to love a man not worthy of her."
  • Random sentence from the middle #1: Stephen Laud's cottage was in a very lonely spot, half hidden by the ruins of an old castle.
  • Random sentence from the middle #2: The horse and trap were run out, and Margaret, still unconscious, was driven off to Newgate Prison.
  • Reviews: There's extremely little about this book online. No reviews on Amazon or Amazon UK or Goodreads. I did find this tidbit about the book on, from the April 29, 1967, edition of The Age, a newspaper of Melbourne, Australia, written by Dennis Dugan:
"Margaret Catchpole's life finished in Australia, but Miss Manning-Sanders tells mainly of her life beforehand as a girl in Suffolk and her unfortunate romance with the dashing but easily led William Laud. 

"The story is well known, of the vivacious and venturesome farmer's daughter who, although transparently honest herself, became entangled with a smuggler and eventually went to prison because of her love, escaped, was recaptured and finally transported.

"Miss Manning-Sanders fills in the background with her usual sure touch — the over-fond father and the grumbling mother, the happy days of service with wealthy people, and the continual worry over Will's lapses into questionable ways.

"There is little about Margaret's life in Australia, for she was then a grown woman, but Miss Manning-Sanders accepts that story that she became associated with George Caley, the botanist. It is now generally believed that botanist with whom Margaret was 'keeping company' was James Gordon, sent out by J.A. Woodford, of the War Office."

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