Worthing author delights in award nominations

Historical fiction author Kate Morrison, who grew up in Brighton and now lives in Worthing, is delighted to have been nominated for two book awards.

Thursday, 12th November 2020, 11:00 am
Historical fiction author Kate Morrison

Kate’s debut novel A Book of Secrets, released in 2019 by Jacaranda Books, was named on the longlist for the Historical Writer’s Association Debut Crown Award 2020, which recognises a first work of historical fiction.

It also featured on the longlist for the Diverse Book Awards 2020, which are aimed at recognising diversity and inclusivity in UK adult, young adult and children’s fiction.

She didn’t make the shortlist for either – but is delighted with the recognition.

A Book of Secrets is set partly in Sussex and tells the story of a girl from 16th-century Ghana hunting for her lost brother through an Elizabethan underworld of spies, plots and secret Catholic printing presses.

Kate said: “It is amazing to see A Book of Secrets on two brilliant longlists, alongside books by some fantastic authors. I wrote the novel partly to give a different perspective on this period of history and raise awareness around the fact that black people have been living and working in Britain since at least Roman times, so I’m very happy the judges have responded to that.”

The book’s heroine Susan Charlewood grows up in the Weald as lady’s maid to a family with an iron furnace and the early Sussex iron industry plays an important part in the novel.

The research for the book was informed by historian Miranda Kaufmann’s book Black Tudors, which tells the story of ten free Africans living in England in Tudor times.

Kate said: “Miranda’s book uses archives such as church registers of births and deaths to track the presence of African people in England.

“I’m sure there are more records waiting to be discovered.

“In Worthing alone there are records showing at least eight people who benefitted from compensation given to slave owners after the abolition of the slave trade – a debt that was only finally paid off in 2015.

“Between them they were compensated for over 3,000 enslaved people.

“I think it’s important to share these stories, and I believe there is growing awareness of the importance of representing everyone in literature and of telling the true story of Britain’s history.”

Kate’s family moved to Brighton when she was eight and she attended Brighton GPDST and St Mary’s Hall school.

She went on to study English literature at New Hall College, Cambridge (now Murray Edwards College) then the NCTJ News Journalism course at City College Brighton and Hove, where she did work experience and training at the Worthing Herald and Splash FM, before finding a job as a reporter in Brighton. She later worked as press officer for Brighton Fringe.

She moved to Bristol in 2011 but returned to Sussex in 2018 and now lives in Worthing with her family.

To order A Book of Secrets go to https://jacaranda-boooks.myshopify.com/products/a-book-of-secrets