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A perfectly-pitched look at the story of the Tolpuddle Martyrs, backed by thorough research which is worn lightly. Excellent for the pre-teen - but it's a book to enjoy whatever age you are...Fiona Taylor has done an excellent job of bringing this story to life for the pre-teen. Her research has been exemplary...will be useful for teachers who might wish to use The Sheltering Tree in class ... Sheltering Tree is a well-written and enjoyable way of introducing the story which played such an important part in the founding of the trade union movement. Sue Magee, Bookbag.
I really enjoyed this book and found myself quickly immersed in Elizabeth's story, such is the author's slick ability to write in the first person whilst observing life from a young person's perspective....this book highlights a really significant moment in the evolution of human rights and the right to freedom of speech.... I feel that it could be enjoyed equally by middle grade children/young adults and adults themselves. Susie Fiddes, Reedsy Discovery.
TOLPUDDLE DORSET 1834
The untold lives of the families behind the Tolpuddle Martyrs
Thirteen year old Elizabeth Standfield's family have lived happily in Tolpuddle for generations, working as farm labourers on the fields that surround the village. Yet in the early 1830s disaster strikes when the local landowner, Squire Frampton, reduces the labourers wage to six shillings a week. These starvation wages are too little for the families to survive.
Some of the village men decide to form a trade union and protest against their low wages. Squire Frampton, fearing revolution and rebellion, has six of the men, who he considers to be the ringleaders, arrested and transported to Australia for seven years. Among these men are Elizabeth's father and her older brother John. Also sent to Australia is her close friend James Brine - who she secretly hopes to marry one day.
The story of the Tolpuddle Martyrs is well known, it is even part of the school curriculum, but until now it has been told by the mens' point of view. The Sheltering Tree follows the lives of Elizabeth and the women who are left in the village with little income, scant food and the risk eviction. Despite the hardship, Elizabeth refuses to give into despair and she uses every reserve of strength and integrity to help protect her family, and to fight for justice in bringing the men back home.
A coming of age tale and children's historical drama inspired by the true historical events of the Tolpuddle Martyrs.