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  • Location: London

The Silk Weaver

The Silk Weaver

Why a Booktrail?

1760s: Based on a true story, this is the tale of silk and of a love story woven in its seams

  • ISBN: 978-1509823253
  • Genre: Fiction, Historical

What you need to know before your trail

1760, Spitalfields. Anna Butterfield’s life is about to change forever, as she moves from her idyllic Suffolk home to be introduced into London society. A chance encounter with a French silk weaver, Henri, draws her in to the volatile world of the city’s burgeoning silk trade. Henri is working on his ‘master piece’, to become a master weaver and freeman; Anna longs to become an artist while struggling against pressure from her uncle’s family to marry a wealthy young lawyer.

As their lives become ever more intertwined, Henri realises that Anna’s designs could give them both an opportunity for freedom. But his world becomes more dangerous by the day, as riots threaten to tear them apart forever .

Travel Guide

Spitalfields

Anna's house (c) Liz Trenow

Anna’s house (c) Liz Trenow

This is the true story with fiction woven into the seams (sorry) of the author’s family who worked in the silk industry, in Spitalfields in the 1700s. Having spotted this link, Liz then started to research more and found that the eminent silk merchant Anna Maria Garthwaite lived in a house nearby on the corner of Wilkes Street and Princelet Street.

Anna was noted for her naturalistic, botanically accurate designs and even credited in the Universal Dictionary of Trade and Commerce of 1751 as one who ‘ introduced the Principles of Painting into the loom’

The Silk Industry

The setting of Spitalfields in the novel is evoked with such care and attention from the noise of the horses on the cobbles to the shouts of the French artists an to the smell of the baking bread to the wind whistling in that old attic room where Anna first stays. And that’s before you get to the silk. The markets and the excitement of this new fashion from those who make it to the way it starts to send ripples of excitement in the upper echelons of society. The artistry of silk making and the war which starts between the new French arrivals who make silk and the Londoners who also craft it, is fascinating.

Take notice of the first time Anna goes to market to have a look around and she ends up having to watch the stall of a woman selling flowers. She takes the time to sketch them and really notice their shape, style and flair. Flowers for her are memories of happy times at her family’s country house and as medicinal properties. There’s more to a flower than meets the eye!

 

Streetview Maps

A) London - Spittal Square
D) London - Christ Church

Booktrailer Review

Susan: @thebooktrailer

A remarkable novel in so many ways – the fact that it’s based on a real person, was discovered as the author was researching her own family history or the fact it reads like a sumptuous insight into a fascinating trade.

This is a very special read for the emotions and background story contained on each and every page. It’s a lovely tale with a love story at its heart but for me the care and attention which had clearly gone into the research and the way it was crafted onto the pages was as delicate as the early silk artwork must have been. This was such a vivid and captivating read – I was firmly at the heart of Spitalfields market, could hear the cry of the stallholders, the plotting of the tradesmen, the slap of people’s feet on the cobble stones….As for the silk, the trade and birth of silk artistry was fascinating – I started to stroke the pages of the book I was that captivated by the descriptions. To have woven (sorry) this story from her own research and to have given such a voice to a historical character – Anna Maria Garthwaite –  is a great homage to her and her perseverance in a very difficult world.

I was truly capitvated throughout. Please make this a movie – imagine the costumes!

 

Booktrail Boarding Pass Information:  The Silk Weaver

Author/Guide:   Liz Trenow   Destination:  London  Departure Time: 1760s

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