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Clitheroe Castle the setting for romantic novel, The de Lacy Inheritance

PUBLISHED: 10:57 25 August 2010 | UPDATED: 17:37 20 February 2013

Clitheroe Castle the setting for romantic novel, The de Lacy Inheritance

Clitheroe Castle the setting for romantic novel, The de Lacy Inheritance

A Lancashire author's first novel tells a story of intrigue and passion based in Clitheroe. Roger Borrell met her

They say you should never judge a book by its cover and Elizabeth Ashworth cant help but agree as she hands over a copy of her first novel, hot off the press.

She immensely proud of her achievement, but book covers in the 21st century are designed to sell rather than simply convey a sense of what lies within. The de Lacy Inheritance is no exception.

It shows a good looking woman above the phrase When land is powerand love a sin. It looks every inch the mediaeval equivalent of a bodice ripper - a tunic tearer, perhaps.

However, Elizabeth has a message for the reading public of Lancashire. There is an element of romance in the book but theres nothing racy about the story - I wouldnt know where to start! she laughs.

The booksellers know their market and this cover will appeal to women readers but Im confident men will enjoy reading it, too. My son, Ben, was meant to be checking the proofs for me but, instead, I found him reading it. Ben is 25 and he seemed to like it.

In fact, Elizabeths new novel is a fascinating mixture of fact and fiction which will interest anyone who enjoys the history of the red rose county. It is based in and around Clitheroe Castle and it tells the story of Richard FitzEustace who is banished to Lancashire when he returns from the Holy Lands afflicted by leprosy.

The plot revolves around a contested inheritance and how the de Lacy family inheritance passed from Robert de Lacy, who built Clitheroe Castle, to his relative Roger de Lacy, an important figure during the reigns of Richard the Lionheart and King John.

It also reveals the story of Johanna FitzEustace - the name previously used by the de Lacy family - and Geoffrey de Wallei, ancestors of the Towneley family, of Burnley.

Although this is as work of fiction, there is a strong thread of fact running through its pages and the main characters were real people and some of the events are a mix of fact and legend.

I came across the story when I was researching my book, Tale of Old Lancashire, says Elizabeth.. It involved a hermit who lived at Clitheroe Castle and was shunned because he suffered from leprosy. It was too good a story to waste and I decided it would make the basis for a novel.

It took 12 months for the retired schoolteacher from Blackburn to research and she was delighted to find a UK publisher. Waterstones have agreed to sell it.

While she spent a career as a supply teacher at schools around her home town, Elizabeth has been a story-teller from a young age. As a pupil at Pleckgate School in Blackburn, she had her first article published when she was 11 in Diana magazine and sold her first fiction to the Pony Annual at the age of 15.

Elizabeth, tragically widowed at a young age, has completed two more novels with a local history theme - all of them involving a lot of research of Lancashire families. But she has never yet delved into the past exploits of her fathers family, the Eastwoods.

There is a story that a great-grandfather started researching the family tree but stopped when he was horrified to discover one was a highwayman! Sound like it could be straight from the pages of a novel

The de Lacy Inheritance is published by Myrmidon Books, priced 7.99

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