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Pocketmags Digital Magazines
Pocketmags Digital Magazines

Books A Proper Person to be Detained

Karen Clare takes a look at some new titles of interest in the world of family history

Author Q& A

Award-winning historical novelist and playwright Catherine Czerkawska discusses her new book, a poignant true crime story from her own family’s past that follows generations of migrants from Ireland to the industrial heartlands of England and Scotland in the 19th and 20th centuries


Catherine, tell us about your book, A Proper Person to be Detained.

On Christmas Night in 1881, my 21-year-old great-great-uncle, John Manley, was fatally stabbed in a drunken quarrel. He was a poor son of Irish immigrants, living in the slums of Leeds. The book teases out the truth behind his death and uncovers tragedy and heartbreak for those left behind, especially his sisters.

How did you discover this family story and what made you want to tell it?

I knew there had been a murder in the family and that the victim was my grandmother’s uncle, but very little else. My mother would say John had done nothing to provoke the assault and that the murderer had ‘got away with it’. It intrigued me and I wanted to dig deeper. I wanted to know what had happened to the family afterwards and what had become of John’s sisters: Mary, Bridget and Elizabeth. The story that emerged was so extraordinary that I felt compelled to write a book about it.

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About Family Tree

If a picture tells a thousand words – what stories can our old family snaps reveal to us about our kin from times gone by? • Learn how to date your old family photos and unlock the clues to your kin with our bumper guide on ‘How to date family photos’ by vintage photo expert Jayne Shrimpton. • Discover how to trace long lost family with Dr Penny Walter’s advice on tracing adopted family members and tracing your own birth family if you were adopted. • Travel back in time two centuries to the time of Peterloo – when innocent ancestors were slain on the street, simply for peacefully marching for their hopes for democracy in Manchester 1819. • New to family history? And stuck? Get simple steps to discover more about your family tree Find all this and more in the latest issue of Family Tree!