I’m delighted to be reading a piece I have written for Write Up Speak UP - Wells Festival of Literature – on Oct 20th, from 7pm, along with a number of other local writers and performers.
The event is curated by Bee Brook and hosted by radio presenter Simon Parkin.
My piece is: The Hangman Tales – The Australian Soldier.
This is an imagined account of the true life hanging of Verney Asser at Shepton Mallet Prison on March 5th, 1918. I have put together this story using original testimony, the memoir of John Ellis (England’s official executioner from 1901 to 1924 – who hung Verney) and posthumous recollections passed down the generations of my family.
I grew up knowing of the Australian solider who was hung at Shepton Mallet Prison because my great-grandfather – who worked at the prison as a school master – was deeply affected by the incident and confided as such to his daughter. My great-grandfather had met Verney and was very taken with him.
Since the prison was shut down in 2013 I have campaigned for this ancient 400-year-old prison in Shepton Mallet to have its heritage and human stories preserved for future generations, so we learn and respect the past no matter how bleak and brutal the tales of crime and punishment inevitably are.
The prison is currently earmarked to be converted into luxury housing by a property developer. Verney remains buried within the prison walls, alongside other hung prisoners.
Tickets are available following the link below from the website: