Daniel Defoe’s fictional Moll Flanders is famous for her criminal and sexual adventures, which have been racily portrayed on big and small screens. But who was she? And what world did she really inhabit?
'Moll' takes its readers on a literary and historical detective story across continents, cultures and centuries: from Jacobean England to Jamestown, Virginia in 1614; from the battles of the English Civil War to those of the Powhatan Indians of Virginia in the 1640s; from the decadence of the English Restoration to the godliness of Maryland tobacco farms in the 1670s; and from the heaving, dissolute metropolis of London to the hamlet of Annapolis in 1722.
We are led through Moll’s tumultuous life by other figures from Daniel Defoe’s novels, and by historical characters: the real-life versions of Defoe’s heroine, her mother, her amoral ‘governess’ and her many husbands and lovers. Principal among these are Moll Cutpurse: thief, receiver, procuress and gangmaster; Mary Moders, also known as the ‘Kentish Moll’ and the ‘German Princess’, who adopted the persona of distressed noblewoman to hook rich men; and Moll King (alias Gold alias Gilstone alias Bird), the thief reprieved from death in England to be transported as a convict to ‘His Majesty’s plantations in Virginia’.
Combining meticulously researched tales of London’s underworld with the little-known story of penal transportation to America, Moll is inventive, absorbing and as rich in incident as Defoe’s great novel.
Siân Rees was born and brought up in Cornwall, spending much of her childhood in boatyards and at sea. She read Modern History at Magdalen College, Oxford and then spent a decade travelling and living abroad. Her first book, The Floating Brothel: the extraordinary true story of the Lady Julian and its cargo of female convicts bound for Botany Bay was written after living in Melbourne, Australia, and published in 2001. It was followed by The Shadows of Elisa Lynch: how a nineteenth-century Irish courtesan became the most powerful woman in Paraguay (2003) after a stint in South America,...
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