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MARY ANN SATE, IMBECILE

Alice Jolly

  • Original Title: MARY ANN SATE, IMBECILE
  • Publication date: June 2018
  • Publisher: UNBOUND
  • Country: GB
  • 640 print pages
  • Biopics

Information

  • Epoch: Historical
  • Time Period: 19th century
  • Location setting: United Kingdom
  • Themes: PEOPLE facing life, Handicap, SOCIAL CHRONICLES, Social relations, Integration, Accepting differences, Intolerance, CHARACTERS, FAMILY, Family secrets, Homosexuality, Looking back on one's life, Moral dilemma, PEOPLE facing the extraordinary, Injustice, SOCIETY DYSFUNCTIONS, Inequality, Exclusion, Discriminations, Power, LOVE / HATE, Amorous urge, Strong Female Character, Minorities

Pitch

As the 19th century draws towards a close, Mary Ann Sate, an elderly maidservant, tiny, hare-lipped, persecuted for her ‘devil’s mark’ and dismissed as a half-wit, sets out to write her truth. Her haunting and poignant story brings to life a period of strife and rapid social change, and evokes the struggles of those who lived in poverty and have been forgotten by history.

Comments

Longlisted for the Rathbones Folio Prize 2019.
In the further list of 20 books recommended in 2019 by the Prize’s Academy of the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction

Mary Ann is akin to the servant we see in so many Victorian novels, especially those by Gaskell, who is heard occasionally but has no life outside of that of her employer's concerns. Here Mary Ann's life is front and centre, and her mind is given free flow, from its Blakean visions and moments of John Clare like beauty. Mary Ann is not an imbecile, nor is she even a disabled person in any way. She is a human being, a witness, and an individual with a strong conscience and will to live.
It's actually got a very strong plot, sense of character and of course Mary Ann herself is a triumph.

Alice Jolly is a novelist and playwright. She has published two novels with Simon and Schuster and has been commissioned four times by the Everyman Theatre in Cheltenham. She has also written for Paines Plough and her work has been performed at The Tristan Bates Theatre in Covent Garden and The Space, East London.

Summary

Tiny, hare-lipped orphan Mary Ann Sate - persecuted for her ‘devil’s mark’ and dismissed as a half-wit - is taken in by Mr Harland Cottrell as a servant in the Stroud Valleys of the 1830s. Living in total obscurity, she dies without leaving a trace, it seems, beyond a single line in the local death register- ‘Mary Ann Sate, 9 October 1887, Imbecile’. But Mary Ann was cleverer and more observant than those around her credited and, towards the end of her life, she took up a pen to write her own truth. Set against the upheavals of enclosure and the weavers’ riots, we are granted an immersive, domestic view of history, a vivid and poignant account of what it was to live through those times, amid the haunting landscape she so lovingly evokes. In this fictional found memoir, novelist Alice Jolly casts an unflinching female eye on real events, and gives joyful, poetic voice to the silenced women of the past.

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  • Author’s biography

    Alice Jolly is a novelist and playwright. She has published two novels with Simon and Schuster and has been commissioned four times by the Everyman Theatre in Cheltenham. She has also written for Paines Plough and her work has been performed at The Tristan Bates Theatre in Covent Garden and The Space, East London.