• Bridget Walsh

Character and plot: Agnes Mary Clerke

Imagine a small girl, six years old, living in Skibbereen, County Cork, in 1848, during the Famine Years. Her name was Agnes Mary Clerke, and she grew up to be a famous writer on astronomy. NASA named a crater on the moon in her honour.

Agnes was one of the fortunate ones who lived in Ireland at that time. She was born into a middle-class home, and had a brilliant education. She left Ireland in her twenties, to pursue her research and writing.


I’m working on my third novel, 'Home - 1847' and I want my invented character, Jane Keating, to meet Agnes, in Skibbereen in 1848, just before the Clerke family left for Dublin.


I like to have real historical characters appear in my novels. But they must have a meaningful role, not just appear as a cameo or a name-drop. So the child, Agnes, possibly unknowingly, will have an impact on Jane when they meet. Agnes must influence the plot in some way, and impact on Jane’s decisions and actions.


I’m still working out how this will happen. This combination of fact and invention, is one of the things I find so fascinating about reading and writing historical fiction.


I’d love to hear about your reading or writing, on Twitter or on this blog in the Contact page.


There’s a lovely article about Agnes Clerke here: https://thewildgeese.ning.com/profiles/blogs/agnes-mary-clerke-the-woman-in-the-moon


Image credit:

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Agnes_Mary_Clerke.jpg#/media/File:Agnes_Mary_Clerke.jpg




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