Mastodon The Writing Desk: Book Launch Guest Post by Susie Murphy, Author of A Class Forsaken (A Matter of Class Book 3)

24 August 2020

Book Launch Guest Post by Susie Murphy, Author of A Class Forsaken (A Matter of Class Book 3)

New on Amazon UK and Amazon US

A Class Forsaken is the third book in Susie Murphy’s A Matter of Class series. The story will continue in the fourth book, A Class Coveted.

Having escaped capture in London, Bridget and Cormac flee to Ireland with their daughter, Emily. Their homecoming is bittersweet as they embark upon the daunting task of searching for Cormac’s family who have been missing for over seven years.

Historical fiction research: a curse and a joy

Today marks the publication of A Class Forsaken, the third book in my historical fiction series A Matter of Class, which is set in Ireland during the 19th century. As with all novels in this genre, this book demanded a lot of research. 

Although the characters are not based on real figures from history and the country manor at which much of the action takes place is also fictional, plenty of research was still required to ensure that the story was grounded in the reality of that era, whether it was the architecture, clothing, language or politics.

The first book in the series, A Class Apart, is set in County Carlow in 1828, while this third book brings the storyline up to 1836. This period in Ireland was marked by the Tithe War which lasted between 1830 and 1836. The tithes were taxes paid by Roman Catholic tenants to support the Church of Ireland, a Protestant establishment. 

These tithes were resented by those who were forced to pay them to fund the upkeep of a church that was not theirs, and a campaign of resistance gradually grew throughout the country. Anti-tithe meetings took place and the Catholics refused to pay the tithes, which sometimes resulted in violence. This tumultuous situation forms part of the backdrop to A Class Forsaken and has an impact on the main characters in several significant ways.

While A Class Forsaken deals with larger concepts such as the Tithe War, it also includes other historical details which occur on a smaller scale but which require equal (and sometimes even more) research.

The book begins with three characters disembarking from a ship at the seaport town of Cove in Cork harbour. Some Irish people will question the spelling of this town. Cobh is a well-known tourist spot in Ireland and it is most definitely spelled C-o-b-h. It has been known as this since 1920 when it was re-named during the Irish War of Independence. 

Prior to this, it had been called Queenstown after a visit by Queen Victoria in 1849. Many will recognise this as the final port of call for the RMS Titanic before she set off across the Atlantic Ocean on her one and only voyage. However, before it was Queenstown the town was actually known as the Cove of Cork, C-o-v-e. My characters visit the town thirteen years before the Queen made it there, hence they call it Cove.

In this book, a number of sealed letters are found with coins inside. This presented several questions for my research. Did people send coins by post in the 19th century? How did they do it? Could they send several coins or just a single coin at a time? What about the practical concerns of the weight or the jangling of the coins? Would the postman know there was money inside and be honest enough to leave it there? 

My editor and I debated this at length and enquired further afield. The Irish Chapter of the Historical Novel Society was very helpful and offered up a piece of historical evidence that a single coin might be sent beneath the seal of the letter. In the end, I went with a single coin wrapped in a strip of folded cloth. The cloth would soften the edges of the coin so the postman would be less likely to feel the hardness of the coin, and the pages of the letter would have been folded over and sealed with wax to prevent the coin from slipping out. It took a very long time to settle on this small detail which amounts to barely a paragraph in the book!

I did a lot of research into Georgian architecture as some of the book takes place in the old Georgian squares of Dublin, including Merrion Square and St Stephen’s Green. I thoroughly enjoyed looking at old pictures of houses from that era with their red brick facades, wide steps leading up to entrances topped with semicircular fanlights, iron railings surrounding open wells at the fronts of the houses, and flights of steps allowing direct access down to the cellars. It is such a distinctive style of house and I loved poring over images of them.

Inheritance law gave me a bit of bother in this book, as it has in all my books so far! My plots tend to demand that characters inherit under circumstances outside of the norm. I had one particular character in A Class Forsaken who, for specific purposes in the story, needed to be in line to inherit a title. However, titles weren’t easy to come by – you couldn’t leave a title in a will like a piece of property. 

I can remember going to bed at 2am one night after researching this issue and talking to my husband, Bob, about the problem. We discussed it from all angles and eventually hit upon the neat solution that would make the storyline work. I was very happy to have solved it but I’m sure Bob would have much preferred to be asleep.

Research can be both a curse and a joy. Many times I found myself busily writing a scene, only to have my flow derailed by having to check which type of servant would answer the front door of a wealthy home, or when were coal holes first introduced to Dublin streets, or would a carriage in the 19th century have some sort of grab handle like modern cars do and, if so, what was it called (yes, and an arm strap). 

Sometimes these are details that can be added in afterwards, and other times they need to be double-checked right away to avoid running the risk of going down the wrong path altogether with the scene and necessitating a rewrite of it at a later stage.

But doing research can also be wonderful. I find it hard to regret the many hours I’ve spent following one interesting tangent after another, discovering things about the past which may never end up in the final manuscript but which are still so fascinating to learn. Whether they make the cut or not, the knowledge of them still contributes to the overall creation of the book. All research, big or small, is invaluable to a historical fiction writer.

A Class Forsaken is the culmination of eight months of research, writing and editing. I’m thrilled to release it today at long last. 

Susie Murphy

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About the Author

Susie Murphy is an Irish historical fiction author. She loves historical fiction so much that she often wishes she had been born two hundred years ago. Still, she remains grateful for many aspects of the modern age, including women’s suffrage, electric showers and pizza.
A Class Forsaken is her third published novel. You can find out more at, and you can connect with Susie on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Goodreads. If you would like to keep up with news of Susie’s books and receive bonus content including five free short stories, you can join her Readers’ Club here.


  1. Thank you very much for having me as a guest, Tony!

  2. Just purchased the first book in the series! I write historical fiction too, so I know the research that is required. And my DNA is 75% Irish, so I am very interested in exploring Irish history. I have written a short story set during the Eleven Years War, but that’s as much as I’ve managed for Ireland so far.

    Looking forward to reading the series.


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