An elderly novelist battles with technology

Writers need publicity*

Some writers are naturally good at it – a surprising amount of writers appear to have a PR or marketing background. Others, like yours truly, not only find the whole business tedious and baffling they’ve been brought up never to blow their own trumpets, as the saying goes. It isn’t easy for a lady novelist of a certain age to market her products with anything approaching authenticity.

Marketing involves getting to grips with technology

Whether it’s figuring out social media or creating an author website and blogging on it, or setting up a newsletter and finding people to subscribe to it; all of which, clever me, I have done. I have even, for my sins

Designed my own book covers

Received wisdom says authors should not design their own book covers unless of course they have a good knowledge of graphic design. I’ve repeated this mantra over and over myself and despite what I’m about to say it still holds true.

In my case it was made clear my covers – which I really liked incidentally – were not selling my novels. However lacking the wherewithal to have all of them redesigned by a professional, and with the help of Canva and the encouragement of the wonderful Katie Sadler I set about redesigning them myself. Here they are:

I also have a new book out soon

On 12 January 2024 to be precise. It’s called The Humbling of Meredith Martin and it’s book five in my Modern Women Breaking the Mould series.

Meredith has appeared in two previous books – The Makings of Violet Frogg and Mrs Morphett’s Macaroons – alongside her colleague, friend and rival Gaye Worth. (Aka Merry and Gaye.) This book features Meredith centre stage and tells how an actress with aspirations struggles to become the leading lady she believes she was put on earth to become. It’s set in Edwardian London and like my other books it’s a light-hearted read with a touch of romance and is available to pre-order HERE.

And I have joined Substack

Substack is what you might call an online newsletter platform which anyone can join for free and post away to their heart’s content about anything and everything in the hope that someone will actually read what they have to say. I’m still learning the Substack ropes but my eventual idea is to post chapters or part-chapters of my new book – tentative title Theatrical Women – on Substack at regular intervals.

If you’d like to subscribe (for free) click HERE.

Not bad for someone in their eighth decade, eh?

*With the possible exception of J K Rowling, Shakespeare and Charles Dickens

How to get what you want

The secret to successful protest

The more I research the past the more I find parallels with the present.

The women’s suffrage movement in Great Britain comprised several different organisations, each of them with slightly different aims and with very different approaches. The  two largest, the NUWSS (The National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies), founded by Millicent Fawcett, was a peaceful movement whose members were referred to as suffragists. The WSPU (The Women’s Social and Political Union), founded and run on authoritarian grounds by Emmeline Pankhurst and her daughters, espoused ‘direct action’ which included on occasion storming the Houses of Parliament and vandalising buildings. This in turn spawned a breakaway group called the Women’s Freedom League, who disapproved of the dictatorial way the WSPU was run.

Confused? I certainly am. Although the different organisations did cooperate on occasion it can’t have helped their cause to be so split in their aims and their methods.

Reading about the the suffragettes I am reminded of Extinction Rebellion, aka XR, a British-founded global environmental organisation, well-known for their disruptive tactics such as blocking bridges and roads in central London and on one occasion gluing themselves to underground trains in order to draw attention to our climate emergency.

In both cases their more extreme methods, whatever you may think of them, were a direct result of years of being ignored. Mrs Fawcett’s suffragists had been lobbying parliament for decades, with very little result. XR came to the fore a few years ago when they imported a boat into Oxford Circus and reminded us of the urgency of climate change. Both attracted the attention of the media, not always positively. Both divided public opinion. Both had MPs effectively demolishing their arguments by condemning their methods.

XR and The Boat (The Telegraph)

(Winston Churchill, then President of the Board of Trade, like a more recent MP and Prime Minister, seemed to change his mind about women’s suffrage according to who he was talking to at the time. At one point he told the suffragettes he was their ‘friend’, and then declared women would never get the vote until they ceased their militant tactics; to which those women might have responded ‘If you really were our friend you’d have done something to help us and we wouldn’t have needed to resort to those tactics’.)

So how do we, the protesting general public, achieve our aims? Public opinion, led by the media, is one thing; a peaceful demonstration is unlikely to attract media attention unless someone metaphorically or physically throws the odd stone. In 1908 a quarter of a million suffragettes and supporters held a peaceful rally in Hyde Park, to no avail. In 2003 a million people, including yours truly, marched through central London protesting against the impending war in Iraq, to no avail.

Contemporary historians on the whole tend to believe the suffragette movement was hampered rather than helped by their militancy, but just maybe they are basing their beliefs on statements from the likes of Winston Churchill at the time. ‘We will never give way to violence!’ (Not a direct quote by the way.) By refusing to allow women the vote because they were a nuisance meant they were condemning their tactics rather than their aims.

Setting aside the odd Violent Fringe that has hijacked many otherwise peaceful protests in the past, if peacefulness doesn’t get us what we want, what will?

All this is in the course of my research for my latest novel, working title The Humbling of Meredith Martin. It concerns an actress – who has already appeared in my previous books – struggling to make her way in the unpredictable and radically changing world of Edwardian theatre. Which reminds me of yet another organisation, the Actress’ Franchise League. They produced hundreds of propaganda plays satirising the anti-franchise movement, performed, one assumes, almost entirely to already-converted audiences.

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

Coming soon:

The Humbling of Meredith Martin (working title). Book five in the
‘Modern Women: breaking the mould’ series

© Patsy Trench
March 2023

Prudence is free!

Free-spirited, anarchic, rule-bending, Prudence’s purpose in life is to have fun, sometimes in unusual ways. Hobnobbing with the likes of actress *Mrs Patrick Campbell, *Lady Ottoline Morrell and *Millicent Fawcett, pioneer suffragist, Prue is happy to dip her toe into anything that catches her fancy.

And she is now FREE in ebook form from 13 to 17 August. Find her here:

*All real people of course, though please be aware my book is a novel.

Publication day!

MRS MORPHETT’S MACAROONS is published today.

Available as an ebook and paperback on Amazon. The Book Depository,
Waterstone’s, Barnes & Noble, Booktopia & Angus & Robertson

© Patsy Trench
30 December 2021

The modern lady milliner

An extract from my forthcoming novel ‘Mrs Morphett’s Macaroons’, as performed by the redoubtable duo, Merry and Gaye. With apologies to W S Gilbert (and Sir Arthur Sullivan).

It celebrates the glorious OTT fashion for hats in Edwardian England. (And the fact that one of my characters is a milliner.)

I am the very model of a modern lady milliner,
I own a little hat shop off the Strand – you may have been in there,
My clients are exclusively the cream of our society,
I’m known for my discretion and my taste and my propriety.

I know the latest fashion and I’d say that I’m ahead of it,
You’ll never find a hat that’s out of style, I just get rid of it,
I’ve simple hats and fancy hats with trimmings and with featherers,
I’ve hats for all occasions and for every kind of weatherers.

GAYE: (accompanying the words of the chorus with a strange little bobbing motion)
She’s hats for all occasions and for every kind of weatherers,
She’s hats for all occasions and for every kind of weatherers,
She’s hats for all occasions and for every kind of weather-weather-ers.’

Each model is unique, you will find there’s only one of it,
Fads and mass production, I’ll have absolutely none of it,
No Merry Widow nonsense and no passing whims or silliness,
For I’m the very model of a modern lady millin’ress.

GAYE: (chorus)
No Merry Widow nonsense and no passing whims or silliness,
For she’s the very model of a modern lady millin’ress.

I’ve curly brims and floppy brims and hats completely brimless,
Panamas with ribbons on, irregular or rimless,
I’ve Buckets, I have Cartwheels, I have Gainsboroughs with flowers on,
Tricorns, tam o’shanters, and a cloche with Eiffel Towers on.

Wedding hats and party hats, Derby hats and toques,
I’ve hats from off the shelf, made to measure and bespoke,
I’ve bretons and I’ve turbans, on the straight or asymmetrical,
Berets plain or stripy or with patterns diametrical.

Berets plain or stripy or with patterns diametrical,
Berets plain or stripy or with patterns diametrical,
Berets plain or stripy or with patterns diametri-metrical.

(The tempo of the music slows)

Each bonnet is a statement, every beret tells a story, 
A hat is so much more than just a mere accessosory,
I’ve sober hats and jaunty hats, for fun’rals or festivities,
Hats for servants, mistresses, and maids of all proclivities.

There are hats to make a maiden swoon, hats to dance a reel in,
Picture hats to hide beneath or cloches all-revealing,
Boaters that will guide you in your speech and your behaviour,
Yes, a hat can be your dearest friend, a hat can be your saviour.

GAYE: (chorus)
A hat can be your dearest friend, a hat can be your saviour.
A hat can be your dearest friend, a hat can be your saviour.
A hat can be your dearest friend, a hat can be your saviour-saviour-er.

From the promenades of Paris to the salons of Sofia,
You’ll find my darlings perched on every noble head you see-a,
In halls of fame throughout the world my name is all-familiar,
I am the very model of a modern lady milliner.

GAYE: (chorus)
In halls of fame throughout the world her name is all-familiar,
She is the very model of a modern lady milliner.

(Images from

© Patsy Trench