An evocative tale of love and sacrifice set on the wild terrain of Dartmoor in Victorian times,
and based on the history of the Cherrybrook Gunpowder Mills and Dartmoor’s infamous
Beautiful, vivacious and compassionate, Rose Maddiford could have any husband she
chooses, but she is devoted to only one man, her father, manager of the Cherrybrook
Gunpowder Mills high up on the moor.
When an accident tears their world apart, it seems that, despite Rose’s efforts, there is only
one way to hold the family together. But it is a solution that requires the greatest sacrifice
from Rose. Like a lamb to slaughter, she finds herself trapped in a desperate situation.
Solace comes from the most unlikely source, but what future can there be for two lost souls
whose lives have been shattered by the cruel hand of fate?
Inspiration for The Gunpowder Girl
The whole of my Devonshire series is inspired by the rich and fascinating history of west
Dartmoor and the surrounding area. Drive across Dartmoor today, and most visitors will see
the savage beauty of the rugged, spectacular landscape, and the adorable ponies, sheep and
occasional cows grazing wild among the rocks and heather. Few, though, will realise that, as
well as being grazed more intensely, in the past, Dartmoor was a place of dangerous and
demanding industry. Each of the books in the series sets out to explore a different aspect of
life on the moor, from leading a harsh existence and scraping a living from farming and
mining, to other more unexpected employment.
The Gunpowder Girl is based on the history of the Cherrybrook Gunpowder Mills, sited at a
remote spot in the middle of the moor and which existed throughout the second half of the
Nineteenth Century but gradually went into decline with the invention of more sophisicated
explosives. I simply let my imagination loose to envisage what it would have been like for a
young woman to be living in such an isolated spot, but with strong loyalties to her family
and friends. There is one other element in the story, however, that visitors to that part of
the moor cannot fail to notice, and that is Her Majesty’s largest hotel – the infamous prison.
In Victorian times, it was just as brutal, inhumane and barbaric as you might imagine. But it
wasn’t just a hard life for the offenders. The prison officers and their families also led
difficult lives in the exposed, windswept prison town of Princetown. Being only a few miles
from Cherrybrook, it made sense to amalgamate the two into a tale of courage,
determination and doomed love.
If you already know the magnificent landscape of Dartmoor, you will understand how it has
always provided me with such creative inspiration. But if you didn’t know about its history, I
hope you will join with me in thinking about how it influenced the lives of those who lived
on its wild uplands and surrounding towns in the past.
Review by Carol Stone
An interesting romantic drama set in Victorian times. The historical content is well
researched and class differences become apparent as we get to know the characters and the
different locations, Cherrybrook Gunpowder Mills and Dartmoor Prison.
A good heart warming read.
Historical novelist Tania Crosse was born in London and lived in Banbury Street, Battersea,
where her two most recent titles are set. However, at a very young age the family moved to
Surrey where Tania’s love of the countryside took root. She always enjoyed reading and has
composed stories ever since she could hold a pen. After studying French Literature at
university, she devoted twenty years to bringing up her family. But her passion for writing
never left her, and side by side with her in-depth research into Victorian social history, she
began to pen her novels in earnest as her family grew up.
When Tania discovered Morwellham Quay, the restored Victorian copper port and now living
history museum in Devon, she fell in love with this magical place and felt a spiritual
compulsion to create a story that would illustrate life there in times gone by. This led to the
publication of her debut novel, ‘Morwellham’s Child’, and now Tania has fourteen published
titles with which to thrill her readers.
Tania has now completed her series of novels illustrating the rich history of Tavistock and
the surrounding area of Dartmoor from Victorian times to the 1950’s. She is now working on
a series of Twentieth Century stories set in London and the south east. She draws very
much on her own experiences of life to create her books. She hates being catagorised as a
writer of historical romance. The history comes first, she insists, and the human tales
develop from her research. The characters lead harsh, demanding lives and their stories are
often cruel and harrowing.
Tania has been happily married for forty five years and claims she would never have
achieved her success without her husband’s support. They have three grown up children,
two grandchildren and three grand-dogs!