Wednesday 17 April 2019

Historical Fiction author, Mollie Walton, is talking about what inspired her to write her fabulous new book — The Daughters of Ironbridge #HistoricalFiction #NewRelease #FamilySaga @rebeccamascull

A view from the iron bridge
By Mollie Walton

In the summer of 2016, I took my daughter to visit my brother and his wife in Shropshire. I’d never been to the county and knew nothing about it. All I remembered was an old friend of mine from university days saying she’d been to Ironbridge, how it was the first iron bridge ever built and that the area was the cradle of the industrial revolution. She also said it was beautiful there. I recalled thinking, how can something be industrial and beautiful? We arrived in Ironbridge and took a walk up to its main attraction, the glorious iron bridge itself, spanning the River Severn. We walked to the centre of the bridge and I looked down through the iron bars at the slow-moving river below. And then it happened.

The Iron Bridge

The view of the River Severn from the Iron Bridge.

It’s what I like to call the “history shivers”. This isn’t a phrase I created, but I’ve heard writers and history enthusiasts use it when you experience something that really takes you back to a past age. I felt it when I saw the Bronte sisters’ writing table at their home in Haworth. And I felt it that day standing on the iron bridge. I suddenly had a vision of how the river must have looked two hundred years before, flanked by all manner of burning, smoking industry, fed by the workers and masters who fuelled it, sending goods out into the rest of the world along the river and roads, the canals and railways. All that was gone now, but the remnants remained, overgrown by the beauty of nature. My friend had been right.
Just weeks before, my literary agent Laura had brilliantly suggested a brand new idea to me: writing a saga trilogy. She wanted me to come up with an idea for a story – families, industry, a beautiful yet industrial setting, conflict and drama. Standing on the bridge, I knew this was the place. Looking at both sides of the river, I realised I had my two families, one poor workers, the other rich masters. I had my setting, my characters, my conflict and drama all built in, just by gazing down from the bridge. I was itching to start writing! We visited some of the many museums of the area and everything I looked at took on a new meaning: this was where my two families lived and worked; this is what they ate and how they dressed and where they travelled to and so on. I took dozens of photos, bought a lot of books and postcards and started filling a notebook with ideas. The two families sprang almost fully formed into my head: the masters lived in a house on the top of the hill, looking down on everybody below. The workers lived in the ramshackle cottages that grew along the river when industry took hold. When I got home, I sketched out a family tree, then by researching common names of Shropshire I was able to fill in the blanks. I had my Woodvines and my Kings, my two daughters, their secret friendship and the troubles that awaited them. I planned out their lives over forty years, over three generations and three books, all mysteriously linked by a baby found on the bridge…

Riverside Houses.

Flowers bloom on the riverside.

I went back to the area several times, visiting other important sites, such as the ruins of the Bedlam Furnaces, the Coalbrookdale Museum of Iron and the Dana, otherwise known as Shrewsbury Prison.

Bedlam Furnace.

Iron Chair.

Shrewsbury Prison.

I fell in love with the area and with my characters, Anny and Margaret. My agent was delighted with the whole project too. When my publisher Bonnier took on the project, I found my editor Tara, who loved these girls and their story as much as I did. We talked about them always as if they were real people! We cared deeply what happened to them: we felt bad when we put them through hard times and cheered them on when they battled against adversity. Such is the stuff of saga! I hope you love them as much as we do.

The Daughters of Ironbridge

1830s Shropshire.

Anny Woodvine's family has worked at the ironworks for as long as she can remember. The brightest child in her road and the first in her family to learn to read, Anny has big dreams. So, when she is asked to run messages for the King family, she grabs the opportunity with both hands.

Margaret King is surrounded by privilege and wealth. But behind closed doors, nothing is what it seems. When Anny arrives, Margaret finds her first ally and friend. Together they plan to change their lives.

But as disaster looms over the ironworks, Margaret and Anny find themselves surrounded by secrets and betrayal. Can they hold true to each other and overcome their fate? Or are they destined to repeat the mistakes of the past?

'The Daughters of Ironbridge has that compulsive, page-turning quality, irresistible characters the reader gets hugely invested in, and Walton has created a brilliantly alive, vivid and breathing world in Ironbridge'
 Louisa Treger

Mollie Walton
Mollie Walton is the saga pen-name for historical novelist Rebecca Mascull.

She has always been fascinated by history and on a trip to Shropshire, while gazing down from the iron bridge, found the inspiration for what has become her debut saga novel, part of a trilogy titled THE IRONBRIDGE SAGA, published by Bonnier Zaffre. She is currently hard at work on the three books, with the first novel due for release in April 2019, set in the dangerous world of the iron industry: THE DAUGHTERS OF IRONBRIDGE.

Under the pen-name Rebecca Mascull, she is the author of three historical novels: THE VISITORS (2014); SONG OF THE SEA MAID(2015) & THE WILD AIR (2017), all published by Hodder & Stoughton.

She has also recently completed the final chapters of her friend and fellow novelist Vanessa Lafaye's last work, the novella MISS MARLEY (2018), a prequel to Dickens's A CHRISTMAS CAROL, published by HarperCollins.

Mollie has previously worked in education, has a Masters in Writing and lives by the sea in the east of England.
Connect with Mollie Walton: WebsiteFacebook.
Connect with Rebecca Mascull: WebsiteFacebookTwitterInstagramPinterest.



  1. I agree, Mollie, Ironbridge is a very evocative place. I visited it for the first time last year and was blown away by the atmosphere, one can almost see the past.

    1. That's lovely to hear, Penny. I totally agree. A wonderful place. I couldn't resist writing about it! Thank you xx

    2. Can't wait for the next installment.


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