Authors: Nicola Morgan
A: Just because I love the tragic, exciting story in that poem! In some ways, it doesn't make any difference that it was a poem, but actually the poem has such an amazing rhythm that it seems to make it extra emotional.
Were Bess's parents real?
A: They were invented by the poet, Alfred Noyes. In his poem, the highwayman and the landlord's blackeyed daughter never had a child, but I decided to imagine that they had.
How come you were allowed to do that, if another writer had invented them?
A: Because the poet's daughter, who looks after his works (he died in the 1958) said I could! And she said I could reproduce the poem at the end of the book.
Did you say you went to stay in his house?
A: Yes! My account of that amazing experience is here: bit.ly/zwidXc.
Apart from Henry Parish, were any other characters or events real?
A: The Hexham Massacre, yes. You can find information on the Northumberland and Durham Family History Society website (bit.ly/xJWG5u), and on the England's North East website (bit.ly/yGdVML). It was an example of how poor people seemed to have no laws to protect them and the rich could do whatever they wanted. That second link contains the story I used about the old man being executed and how it was later discovered he hadn't even been there.
Do you like writing stories from the past?
A: Yes! There are lots of ways I can make them really exciting because in past times there were so many dangerous things that children got up to and much less protection. So it makes it easy to think of dramatic adventures. The research is hard work but interesting.
Which period of history would you like to have lived in?
A: None! I honestly wouldn't have liked to live in any other time. For one thing, I don't like the sound of women's lives in any historical period. Medicine is so much better now and most of us (but not all of us) have much more comfort than people in previous centuries.
Were you good at history at school?
A: No! I couldn't remember dates and names, and my teachers got cross with me about that. It was only when I started researching my first historical novel, Fleshmarket (bit.ly/FPTtRW), that I realized history isn't about dates: it's about people and what they do to each other.
Other interesting information about
The Highwayman's Footsteps
I blogged about seeing the first copies here: bit.ly/ FPH6nO.
There's a list of songs and stories which have used the same poem as inspiration here: bit.ly/FPBxB3. And here is my own website page for both books, where you will find lots of reviews and other information: bit.ly/wCE46O.
If you enjoy this galloping adventure, do try The Highwayman's Curse, where Will and Bess face very different dangers and their lives change for ever. Read it if you dare!
If you'd like me to visit your school to talk about the highwayman books or my other books for young people, do ask your school librarian or teacher to contact me. My email address is on the contact page of my website,
. I always love to hear from readers, schools or anyone else interested in my books!
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or, if real, used fictitiously.
First published 2006 by Walker Books Ltd
87 Vauxhall Walk, London SE11 5HJ
Text Â© 2006 Nicola Morgan Cover illustration
Â© 2006 Christian Birmingham
Full text and quotations from
by Alfred Noyes by permission of The Society of Authors as the Literary Representative of the Estate of Alfred Noyes
The right of Nicola Morgan to be identified as author of this work has been asserted by her in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, transmitted or stored in an information retrieval system in any form or by any means, graphic, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, taping and recording, without prior written permission from the publisher.
British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data: a catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library
ISBN 978-1-4063-4246-8 (ePub)