The Favourite Child

The idea for this book first came about when I was working on my novel Manchester Pride in which one of my characters needed guidance on contraception to stop yet another baby coming. I was telling a writer friend how I’d discovered in my research that there had been a Mothers’ Clinic over a pie shop in Salford in the twenties.

‘I know,’ she said. ‘My mother opened it.’

So began my mission to write this gift of a story. Ursula’s mother was Charis Frankenburg, and unlike my heroine, Isabella Ashton, was a qualified nurse who had served in France during WWI. But on her move to Salford after her marriage, she was horrified to discover the lack of medical help for working women on how to stop the annual pregnancy. They suffered all manner of ills as a result, or committed horrific practices in order to rid themselves of what had often become a life-threatening event. Charis Frankenburg immediately got in touch with Marie Stopes, and with the help of local politician Mary Stocks, set about the task of providing just such a clinic.

The two women were subject to considerable vilification as contraception was seen as a way for women to ‘prostitute their marriage vows’. They endured bricks thrown through their windows, defamatory reports in the press, and stern lectures from the pulpit issuing severe threats to any woman who dared attend this den of iniquity. Of course, the very opposite of the Church’s intentions was the result. The more the vicar or priest insisted women not attend, the longer the queues outside the pie shop.

‘How did you hear about us?’ Charis would ask.
‘Oh, we heard about it in church,’ came the answer.
The resulting furore was even worse than that experienced 40 years later with the introduction of the pill.

The clinic depicted in The Favourite Child, though it bears strong similarities in its work and aims to the original is, of course, entirely fictitious, as are the characters. Salford is as real as I can make it.

But for anyone interested in learning more about this amazing lady, I would highly recommend they read her autobiography, Not Old, Madam, Vintage. You can order it at your library. It sheds as much light on a remarkable woman as on the noble and worthwhile enterprise she helped found.

This book was a bestseller when it first came out, and I've now made it available as an ebook.

You can download a copy from Smashwords

Or Amazon

Don't forget you can get get a free download to read ebooks on your lap top or PC if you don't have a Kindle, Nook, or Sony ereader.

Happy reading,



The following Latin verse is attributed to Barclaius, author of “Argenis” on MARGUERITE DE VALOIS, QUEEN OF NAVARRE.

Dear native land, and you, proud castles, say
Where grandsire, father, and three brothers lay,
Who each, in turn, the crown imperial wore,
Me will you own, your daughter whom you bore?
Me, once your greatest boast and chiefest pride,
By Bourbon and Lorraine, when sought a bride;
Now widowed wife, a queen without a throne,
Midst rocks and mountains wander I alone.
Nor yet hath Fortune vented all her spite,
But sets one up, who now enjoys my right,
Points to the boy, who henceforth claims the throne
And crown, a son of mine should call his own.
But ah, alas! for me ‘tis now too late
To strive ‘gainst Fortune and contend with Fate;
Of those I slighted, can I beg relief
No, let me die the victim of my grief.
And can I then be justly said to live?
Dead in estate, do I then yet survive?
Last of the name, I carry to the grave
All the remains the House of Valois have.