Francesca Marton

I would be astonished if anyone reading this has heard of Francesca Marton; if so you must be a rare sort of literary devotee. This was the pen name of a writer called Margaret Bellasis (1884-1961) and she was apparently a cousin of the much more famous Robert Graves.

So what’s her connection with Wolverton? Apparently she took Sir Francis Bond Head’s description of the Wolverton Refreshment Rooms and the seven very young ladies who waited upon the passengers. Stokers and Pokers

Marton gave one of the girls the name Hannah Mary Christmas and used this character as the basis of a novel called Attic and Area or The Maidservant’s Year. It was published by Hamish Hamilton in 1944 when there was still a market for this kind of thing.

I can’t comment on the novel itself as I haven’t read it – nor am I likely to. For the historical record, the names of the “seven young ladies” working at the Refreshment Rooms in 1851 (not necessarily the same ones who were there in 1849) were:

Louisa Bryant           23

Janet Knight             26

Adelaide Halse        13

Eliza Gawcutt          16

Fanny Swan            17

Eliza Robertson       18

Annie Knight          17