"Lovingly-crafted and brilliantly executed [the entire Highbury Trilogy] is an outstanding companion and tribute to Jane Austen’s Emma. Rich with comprehensive detail, thoughtful developments and emotive prose."
Austenesque Reviews

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Allie Cresswell

Allie Cresswell . . .  I have been writing stories since I could hold a pencil and by the time I was about seven I was writing copiously and sometimes almost legibly.

It was at this time that I had the difference between fiction and lies forcefully impressed upon me, after penning a long and entirely spurious account of my grandfather’s death and funeral. My mother was mortified when she found out. My teacher had permitted it as being good therapy for bereavement whereas – as Mum knew all too well – it was only a good excuse to get out of learning my multiplication tables (something I have never achieved).

I did, however, manage a BA (Hons) in English Literature and Drama from Birmingham University and an MA in English Literature from Queen Mary College, University of London. Marriage and motherhood put my writing career on hold until 1992, when I began my first novel in snatched moments between the school run and the village flower and produce show. It took me ten years to complete that book. In 2007 my situation saw a radical change and I was able to write full time.

In the meantime I worked as a Production Manager for an Education Resources company, a bookkeeper for a small printing firm, ran a pub, a B & B and a group of boutique holiday cottages. Most recently I taught English Literature to Lifelong Learners.

Until I wrote my Highbury Trilogy I would have said that my books are about the real world – the ordinary and extraordinary things which could happen to you or your friends. With my foray into the world of Jane Austen this has become less the case unless you habitually dance a quadrille or fall in love with militiamen. In all cases I strive for truthfulness, to imbue characters and situations with truth which makes them vivid and credible. If something has truth it has significance, it means something. I’d describe myself as a writer of literary fiction, which means different things to different people, but to me it means producing work in which the story and the words I use to tell it have equal importance.

Tall Chimneys was awarded a Silver Medal by the influential Readers’ Favorite website AND was a winner of the One Stop Fiction Five Star Book Award! Additionally, in June of 2019, Dear Jane received a One Stop Fiction Gold Award!

Mrs Bates of Highbury:
Highbury Trilogy Book 1

Thirty years before the beginning of ‘Emma’ Mrs Bates is entirely different from the elderly, silent figure familiar to fans of Jane Austen’s fourth novel. She is comparatively young and beautiful, widowed – but ready to love again. She is the lynch-pin of Highbury society until the appalling Mrs Winwood arrives, very determined to hold sway over that ordered little town.

Miss Bates is as talkative aged twenty nine as she is in her later iteration, with a ghoulish fancy, seeing disaster in every cloud. When young Mr Woodhouse arrives looking for a plot for his new house, the two strike up a relationship characterised by their shared hypochondria, personal chariness and horror of draughts.

Jane, the other Miss Bates, is just seventeen and eager to leave the parochialism of Highbury behind her until handsome Lieutenant Weston comes home on furlough from the militia and sweeps her – quite literally – off her feet.

The Other Miss Bates:
Highbury Trilogy Book 2

Jane Bates has left Highbury to become the companion of the invalid widow Mrs Sealy in Brighton. Life in the new, fashionable seaside resort is exciting indeed. A wide circle of interesting acquaintance and a rich tapestry of new experiences make her new life all Jane had hoped for.

While Jane’s sister Hetty can be a tiresome conversationalist she proves to be a surprisingly good correspondent and Jane is kept minutely up-to-date with developments in Highbury, particularly the tragic news from Donwell Abbey.

When the handsome Lieutenant Weston returns to Brighton Jane expects their attachment to pick up where it left off in Highbury the previous Christmas, but the determined Miss Louisa Churchill, newly arrived with her brother and sister-in-law from Enscombe in Yorkshire, seems to have a different plan in mind.

Dear Jane:
Highbury Trilogy Book 3

The final instalment of the Highbury trilogy, Dear Jane recounts events hinted at but never actually described in Jane Austen’s Emma; the formative childhood years of Jane Fairfax and Frank Churchill, their meeting in Weymouth and the agony of their secret engagement.

Orphaned Jane seems likely to be brought up in parochial Highbury until adoption by her papa’s old friend Colonel Campbell opens to her all the excitement and opportunities of London. Frank Weston is also transplanted from Highbury, adopted as heir to the wealthy Churchills and taken to their drear and inhospitable Yorkshire estate.

Readers of Emma will be familiar with the conclusion of Jane and Frank’s story, but Dear Jane pulls back the veil which Jane Austen drew over its remainder.

~ Other Novels by Allie Cresswell ~