Minette Walters is a long-term resident of Dorset and the author of a series of novels that have sold over 25 million copies. It was her Dorset surroundings, a more particularly rumours of a plague pit close to her home that prompted her to move from contemporary to historical fiction. The Last Hours was published in 2017. A generous ‘thank you’ is inscribed to Dorset History Centre which also serves as a useful signpost to anyone wishing to research the history of the county.
Minette appeared before a packed audience at DHC in February 2018, and in conversation with Carola Campbell, chairman of Dorset Archives Trust, she explained her reasons for choosing an historical theme and the level of detail that she had researched when considering her characters and the medieval world they inhabited.
The Black Death, which forms the backdrop to the novel devastated the country leaving as few as 10% of the population alive. It is recorded as having come ashore in Weymouth, hence the very particular connection to Dorset’s history. In a wide-ranging discussion, Minette and Carola discussed the history of the Plague, characters from the novel, particularly the female protagonists, and the impact of the disease which left uninhabited villages, crops unharvested and large, unmanaged herds of animals roaming the land.
A long series of questions from the audience followed. A second historical novel will appear later in 2018, so we look forward to seeing which period and theme Minette will take as her subjects.
Dorset Archives Trust would like to thank Minette Walters for providing a very entertaining and enjoyable evening.