Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Mary Hooper Blog Tour - Guest Post & UK Giveaway - NOW CLOSED

* UPDATE - THIS GIVEAWAY HAS NOW ENDED - Winners announced here *

I really loved Mary Hooper's newest book Velvet so I'm very excited to be taking part in the blog tour to celebrate it's release.  If you haven't already read it you can find my review of Velvet here, it's a fantastic story set in the Victorian era about a young girl who is employed by a clairvoyant but soon finds out that not everything about her new job is what it first seemed.

Velvet is an orphan.  She struggles to make ends meet by working in a steam laundry, where the work is back-breaking and exhausting.  So when she attracts the attention of the glamorous clairvoyant Madame Savoya, she cannot believe her good fortune.

Raised to the status of Lady's maid, Velvet is given elegant clothes to wear and is brought to live in a grand house in London.  But the longer she works for Madame Savoya, the more she discovers about the mysterious world of a spiritual medium.  Velvet soon realises that her employer is not quite what she seems and that this knowledge could put her very life in danger . . .

Visit Mary Hooper's website or her fan page on Facebook for more information

I'm going to hand you over to Mary Hooper who has written a really interesting guest post for us about Baby Farms.  I had never heard of Baby Farms before reading Velvet but they are a truly horrific part of our history - I'm glad they no longer exist but it is quite frightening that this kind of thing was still happening in England just over 100 years ago!


Mary Hooper

Baby Farms

Sadly, there were many of these in Victorian and Edwardian Britain. In 1864 a law was passed stating that illegitimate children were the sole responsibility of their mothers until the age of sixteen. However, if their mothers were unable to care for them it was difficult to find anyone who would. At this time, unwed mothers and their children were seen as an affront to morality and the majority of orphanages denied illegitimate children shelter, fearing they would contaminate the minds and morals of legitimate children. Single mothers were therefore desperate enough to use people like Mrs Dyer to baby-mind or even adopt their infants, otherwise there was little hope of their obtaining accommodation or work. Laws were in place against the mistreatment of animals, but not children, and reform moved slowly for fear of violating the Victorian ideal of the sanctity of the family. Fallen women were condemned, their children stigmatised, and there was no welfare state to look after them.

Amelia Dyer was a real person, one of a breed of baby farmers. By moving around and changing her name and her methods, for some time she escaped the notice of police and the newly formed NSPCC (National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children). Babies disappeared from baby farms, but their mothers were tricked into thinking that they had died of natural causes and were reluctant to take matters any further for fear of disgrace. Dyer was first arrested in 1879 after a doctor became suspicious about the number of child deaths he had been called upon to certify, but instead of being convicted of murder, she was sentenced to six months’ hard labour for neglect. She returned to baby farming and murder, and began to dispose of the bodies of the infants she minded in the nearby River Thames.

In 1896, a package containing the body of a baby girl was retrieved from the river at Reading, and Dyer’s house was placed under surveillance. When it was raided, police discovered that in the previous few months alone, at least twenty children had been placed in her care, and subsequently seven bodies were found in the Thames. In May that year she appeared at the Old Bailey, where it took the jury a mere four and a half minutes to find her guilty. She was hanged in June 1896. The Dyer case caused a national scandal, fol-lowing which, stricter adoption laws were passed giving local authorities the power to police baby farms and stamp out abuse. However, the advertising of homes for infants and their trafficking and abuse did not stop immediately.


Giveaway Details:

Now onto the giveaway details.  Thanks to Bloomsbury I have an amazing giveaway (I really want to enter this one myself lol!) for you.  One lucky UK winner will receive a full set of Mary Hooper's historical novels: At the Sign of the Sugared Plum, Petals in the Ashes, The Remarkable Life and Times of Eliza Rose, At the House of the Magician, By Royal Command, The Betrayal, Fallen Grace & Velvet.  That's an amazing 8 books!

  • Courtesy of Bloomsbury I have 1 complete set of Mary Hooper's historical novels (see titles listed above) to give away to 1 lucky UK winner.
  • The winners prize will be sent out directly by my contact at Bloomsbury so winner must give me permission to pass their address on.
  • The winner will be chosen at random from all entries received. 
  • Only 1 entry per person please, multiple entries will be deleted.
  • To enter please fill in your name and email address in the form below and confirm you are a UK resident.
  • The giveaway will close on the 21st September 2011 and the winner will be contacted soon afterwards.  You will have 48 hours to reply to me with your address or a new winner will be chosen.


  1. Thank you for an amazing giveaway! I've been looking forward to reading a book by Mary Hooper. And I've never heard of Baby Farms, it was an interesting tidbit of history.

  2. What an amazing giveaway! I've heard so many positive things about Mary's writing!

  3. What amazing books. Baby farms *shudders*

  4. Awesome giveaway. Thanks for hosting it. And what an eye-opening guest post.

  5. Thanks for entering the giveaway everyone, I'll be announcing the winner tomorrow. I'm very jealous as I'd have loved to win this prize lol.

    @ Kara - I'd never heard of Baby Farms either before reading the book, a scary part of our history for sure!

    @ Kulsuma - you're welcome :o)

    @ Mel - Mary is an amazing writer, I'm looking forward to working my way through her back list

    @ Theprettybooks - thanks Stacey :o)

    @ Susan - this is such a cool prize package isn't it :o) The baby farms issue is horrific though

    @ jabelfield - I'm glad you enjoyed Mary's guest post, it was definitely eye opening!



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