Thursday 23 November 2017

ANDREW'S novel look at history

Author Andrew Hughes
Author Andrew Hughes
Author Andrew Hughes

The early days of forensic science form the backdrop to an unusual and gripping detective story ' The Coroner's Daughter' written by the County Wexford-born author Andrew Hughes.

The historical novel published by Doubleday Ireland is set in Dublin in 1816, a location and timeframe that the writer knows well from researching his earlier social history of Fitzwilliam Square, 'Lives Less Ordinary: Dublin's Fitzwilliam Square 1798-1922'.

It was while delving into the history of the square that the 37-year-old Clonhaston, Enniscorthy, man came across the true story of a man who inspired his first novel The Convictions of John Delahunt, a darkly humorous thriller set in 1840s Dublin about a man convicted of murdering a child.

His new book is about a determined young lady sleuth Abigail Lawless, the 18-year-old daughter of a coroner who sets out to find the truth behind the shocking story of a young maid who murders her newborn baby and then dies herself in an apparent suicide..

Author Donal Ryan said of The Coroner's Daughter: 'This is the kind of writing that pushes you gently into a different world, then holds you there until the last sentence. Just brilliant.'

The chilling and engrossing story opens with the deliciously macabre line: 'For my 18th birthday, Father promised me the hand of a handsome young man, which he duly delivered mounted in a glass bell-jar'. It is filled with scientific detail about dead bodies for which Andrew relied on George Edward Male's 'Epitome of Forensic Medicine', published in 1816 as a guide for doctors, lawyers and coroners.

Andrew studied English and History at Trinity College, Dublin, and completed a post-graduate archivist course at UCD. His first job was on the Millennium project with the National Archive and he later worked for RTE. As a boy, he went to St Senan's Primary School and the CBS in Enniscorthy, where teachers James McGovern (history) and Tony Britton (English) provided inspiration. Mr McGovern has attended the Dublin launches of all his books.

In researching the histories of Georgian houses in Dublin for private clients and the book on Fitzwilliam Square, he came across 'a fascinating cast of characters and the perfect setting' for his new career as an historical novelist.

A son of Kevin and Margaret Hughes, Andrew never actually set out to become a full-time writer, but after he wrote Lives Less Ordinary, David Givens of Liffey Press, which published the book, told him about a workshop in historical fiction that was being run by his brother John Givens,the US-born author, at the Irish Writers' Centre.

Andrew enrolled in the course in 2012 and 'The Convictions of John Delahunt' was published the following year after London literary agent Sam Copeland signed him up. Andrew still attends the writers' group that emerged from the workshop and has a website at, through which he offers advice and assistance to emerging authors.

Wexford People

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