Local author Sheelagh brings intrigue to history

Local-based author Sheelagh Whittaker’s new book mixes equal parts genealogical investigation, historical fiction and murder mystery to create a compelling whodunnit which is said to “grip readers until the very end”. 

While researching her ancestry on the Internet one gloomy evening, Penny is astonished by what she finds. Urgently, she instructs her sister Sheelagh, “Search ‘Slaidburn Suspected Child Murder!’ Now!” So begins a remarkable story within a story spanning more than a century. 

In 1885 Yorkshire, sisters Grace and Isabella, accused of murdering Grace’s secret illegitimate toddler, were on trial for their lives. A sadly neglected two-year-old boy was dead following a failed attempt to lodge him at a workhouse. A tense and sensational trial followed in Victorian-era Leeds. 

Sheelagh and Penny began keenly re-investigating these events. They feel personally involved because a prosecution witness at the murder trial, nine-year-old Margaret Isherwood, would later become their grandmother. The book grips us with dramatic events, but also touches us with the abiding loyalty of sisterhood, the desperate power of our need for love, and the crazy things that it can make us do. 

Sheelagh Whittaker has been featured in the prestigious Women of Influence lecture series and is a member of Maclean’s Honour Roll. She was named “The Pioneer” in The Globe and Mail’s Women in Power series. A quintessential Canadian, who was born in Ottawa, raised on the prairies, and worked in most parts of the country, she now lives between Grand Cayman and London, England. 

Join her at Books & Books on Thursday, 15 November at 7pm for the Cayman Islands launch of The Slaidburn Angel. This free event will include an author presentation, group discussion and book signing. 

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