Volume 1

During the month of August we will be sharing summer reading lists, experiences, and suggestions from the IHR community. If you’d like to share your own, please Tweet (X) us @ihr_history.

We launch the series with IHR Senior Fellow Virginia Crompton‘s summer reading.

Next to my bed is The Low Road by Katharine Quarmby. 

Katharine is an inspiring investigative journalist whose journalism has touched important themes including Asbestos, hate against people with disabilities, and environmental injustice against Roma and Traveller communities. This is her debut novel and in it she is telling the story of two women transported to Australia—I can’t wait to read it. Here is the review online. 

Norfolk, 1813. In the quiet Waveney Valley, the body of a woman—Mary Tyrell—is staked through the heart after her death by suicide. She had been under arrest for the suspected murder of her newborn child. Mary leaves behind a young daughter, Hannah, who is later sent away to the Refuge for the Destitute in London, where she will be trained for a life of domestic service. It is at the Refuge that Hannah meets Annie Simpkins, a fellow resident, and together they forge a friendship that deepens into passionate love. But the strength of this bond is put to the test when the girls are caught stealing from the Refuge’s laundry, and they are sentenced to transportation to Botany Bay, setting them on separate paths that may never cross again. Drawing on real events, The Low Road is a gripping, atmospheric tale that brings to life the forgotten voices of the past—convicts, servants, the rural poor—as well as a moving evocation of love that blossomed in the face of prejudice and ill fortune.

Virginia Crompton is Founder and CEO of Big Ideas, and a Senior Research Fellow at the IHR.