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  • Location: London

The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock

The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock

Why a Booktrail?

1785: Two people from different sides of the track – reunited by a mermaid

  • ISBN: 978-1911215721
  • Genre: Fantasy/Sci Fi, Gothic, Historical

What you need to know before your trail

One September evening in 1785, the merchant Jonah Hancock hears urgent knocking on his front door. One of his captains is waiting eagerly on the step. He has sold Jonah’s ship for what appears to be a mermaid.

This is a time when London is opening up to new discoveries, new lands and new shipments coming in from all over the world. Everyone is keen to see Mr Hancock’s marvel. IThis discovery makes him stand out in ordinary society and allows him to mingle with the masters of business. He is wined and dined and at a party meets Angelica Neal,  a courtesan of great accomplishment.

This meeting will steer both their lives onto a dangerous new course. Two worlds collide with the mystery of the mermaid at its heart.

Travel Guide

London 1700s

The sights and sounds of London come to life here – the fish smells of Billingsgate market, the stench of the sea at Dulwich docks, the poverty of Seven Dials…a world of amazement and adventure where Hancock’s ships sail to and return from, their cabins full of new discoveries. One discovery made in exchange for a ship is the mermaid of the title.

There is much to discover and marvel at in this London. Pineapple is not  a fruit which could be tasted at a market like the London ones until recently so there is much wonderment and marvel at a mermaid!

“Its appearance is unlovely. Do you think it will draw any crowds?”

“Why would it not? A marvel’s a marvel”


Mr Hancock has built his empire over many years:

“He is a man well designed for his station in the world: a merchant son of a merchants son – a son of Deptford – whose place is not to surprise or delight a the rare things that pass through this rough hands but only to assess their  worth scratch down their names and numbers and send them on to the bright and exuberant city across the river. The ships he sends out into the world – the Eagle, the Calliope, the Lorenzo – cross and recross the globe, but Jonah Hancock himself, the stillest of men, falls asleep each night in the room in which he first drew breath.”


The author points out a few more points of interest: Kitty’s Billingsgate was an open-air market near Lower Thames Street. The area still bears traces of its very river-oriented history, including the C19th Custom House & ‘Old Billingsgate’. The Worshipful Co of Watermen, a building familiar to Kitty and to Cpt Jones, remains too.

Mr H’s Union Street is off Deptford High Street (Butt Lane in the book) and is now known as Albury St. It’s beautiful and well worth a visit.

Streetview Maps

A) London - Union Street
B) London - Deptford High Street
G) London - Old Billingsgate
H) London - Worship Company of Watermans and Lightermans

Booktrailer Review

The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock

Susan: @thebooktrailer

Merchants, mystery and mermaids….what’s not to like!? Now, this book is not as focused on the mermaid as you might think from the blurb but take the mermaid as a mystery in the background which draws the world of traders and courtesans together then you have the full focus of a historically intriguing read.

The author has a knack for evoking London of the 1700s. The ships in the dock, the stench of the streets, the glamour of the courtesans, the theatres and then there’s the mermaid. Such a discovery and a source of amazement. Pineapple was hailed as a new wonder at the time so the mermaid takes their breath away

The mermaid is the link between two worlds – fact and fiction, rich and poor, man and woman, the world of business and that of make believe. From this wonder, the romance between two very different characters swims between two worlds not linked until now

The mermaid is not just a creature of intrigue, it’s a symbol for so much more. How London was changing, people within and how the world was becoming smaller with ships exchanging goods from one world to the other, and the people in it players in the theatre of its day.

This isn’t a fantasy novel about a mermaid as the blurb suggests, but an insight into a world where marvel and mystery was opening up, knocking down borders, bringing new cultures and foods to new markets and the marvels of what can happen when two worlds collide, and the awe and mystery of a mermaid cast into a love affair with magic at its heart.

Booktrail Boarding Pass:  The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock

Destination: London  Author/Guide: Imogen Hermes Gowar  Departure Time: 1785

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