Jude & Bliss, Guest Post by Mal Foster

In the Victorian era, for many young women, going into domestic service was a significant source of employment where they found suitable work but with extended hours for a reasonable salary, receiving free accommodation as well as enjoying the perks and prestige of working for the aristocracy or other members of the upper or middle-classes.

As a matter of course, employers had a moral obligation, but one without a legal requirement to ensure their servants were kept clean, healthy and well-nourished. However, for one poor girl, that, unfortunately, was not the case.

In 1896, Jude Rogers, a wide-eyed but vulnerable sixteen-year-old from Woking, Surrey, secures a position as a domestic servant at a large terraced house in Half Moon Street, near London’s Piccadilly. Following a brief settling-in period, she quickly realises everything is not quite as it seems.

As time moves ruthlessly forward, what happens next is almost beyond comprehension. Jude finds herself in the most impossible of situations and finally succumbs to the pure evil dealt out by her employer.

This story is NOT for the faint-hearted!

Historical Aspects re: Jude & Bliss

‘Jude & Bliss’ is set in the late Victorian era. It starts in a small village called Knaphill, near Woking, Surrey in 1896. The whole locality is going through transition with new housing and amenities being built in an area which already hosts an invalid and woman’s prison, a lunatic asylum and Britain’s largest cemetery just down the road at Brookwood,

The book tells the story of sixteen-year-old Jude Rogers, from Knaphill who secures a position as a domestic servant at a large-terraced house near London’s Piccadilly.

In the Victorian era, for many young women, going into domestic service was a significant source of employment where they found suitable work but with extended hours for a reasonable salary, receiving free accommodation as well as enjoying the perks and prestige of working for the aristocracy or other members of the upper or middle-classes.

As a matter of course, employers had a moral obligation, but one without a legal requirement to ensure their servants were kept clean, healthy, and well-nourished. This, however, was not always the case.

The inspiration for the book came from the true account of the unfortunate Emily Jane Popejoy, (1880-1897) a domestic servant from Bagshot, Surrey, who similarly died at the hands of her employer under very dubious circumstances. A memorial to Emily, commissioned by the London Illustrated News and built and erected by a local bricklayer just after her death is a lasting reminder of her plight and is still a major attraction for visitors to the small cemetery in Bagshot.

Other historical aspects of the book include the judicial procedure which remarkably, hasn’t changed too much since the end of the nineteenth century. 

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Meet Mal Foster

Mal Foster was born in 1956 in Farnham, Surrey and grew up in nearby Camberley. He was educated at secondary modern level but left school at just fifteen years old to help support his single mother and younger brother. It was around this time that he began writing, and indeed, his first poems were published soon after. 

In 2007 his most widely read poem The Wedding was published in the Australian Secondary Schools anthology Poetry Unlocked‘ a book that formed part of its English Literature exam curriculum. The irony of its inclusion has always amused Mal considering he left school before gaining any formal qualifications himself.  

A former local journalist, his first novel The Asylum Soul, a historical tale of incarceration was published in 2015. A second book, Fly Back and Purify, a paranormal drama appeared in 2017. Described as an explosive conspiracy thriller, An Invisible Nemesis was published at the beginning of May 2019.

In November 2020, his fourth novel, Jude & Bliss, was published and marked a return to historical fiction for Mal. “This book is close to my heart, it’s the one, I think, which will define the course of my future writing,” he told one observer.  

Connect with Mal

Website: http://www.malfoster.co.uk/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/malfosterwriter
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mal.foster.3/?hl=en
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MalFosterAuthor

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