Sue Wilkes on How She Brings the Past to Life

I have loved history ever since I was a little girl.  I adored reading Jane Austen’s novels, and Jean Plaidy was a special favourite, too.   My interest in the world Jane Austen lived in gave me the idea for writing Regency Cheshire.  Although I grew up in Lancashire, Cheshire has been my home county for many years and I love exploring its historic sites.

A visit to a museum sparked my initial research into child workers.  There was a display on child pin-makers in Victorian times: I was horrified to learn that Warrington children began making pins when they were only five years old.  I began looking into contemporary reports on child workers, and discovered that they were employed in lots of different industries.

The Children History Forgot takes the reader on a journey into these children’s working lives and explains why it took the Victorians so long to get around to improving the way they lived.

The internet has revolutionised the way I research my non-fiction books.  I always begin by reading as much as I can on the period I’m writing about, but the internet makes it much easier to find out what’s already been written, and which archives have the original records and materials I need.

However, there is no substitute for visiting a place you are writing about.  If you can see and hear the clatter of cotton machinery, or feel the heat from a furnace and watch the sparks fly as a craftsman forges a chain, it really helps to recreate the past.  And bringing the past to life is what I hope I’ve achieved for my readers.

Sue Wilkes

 You can follow Sue on Twitter @SueWilkesauthor or visit her blog at

The Children History Forgot is out now in hardback.

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