Hometown History of Cardiff by Sue Barrow

by | Mar 1, 2023 | Author | 0 comments

‘Would you be interested in writing the text for an illustrated book for children about your hometown?’ 

I’d just had my first teen novel published when I was approached by a publisher to write the Cardiff title of their Hometown History series. I’d read history at university and the idea of bringing local history to life in a fun and educational way for children was a dream come true. 

South Wales has been my home for most of my life so I thought I knew the area pretty well. But I couldn’t believe how many fascinating facts I discovered once I started my research – the Roman coins unearthed beneath the foundations of a new branch of Pizza Hut; the sixteenth century fisherman burned at the stake for his religious views; the wealth of Cardiff built on the back-breaking toil of the Welsh coal miners.

Cardiff is the capital city of Wales. My book takes readers through the main events of what was originally a riverside settlement in Roman times (AD 55) right through to the end of the twentieth century. 

Much of the reader’s attention is focused on Cardiff Castle which dates back to William the Conqueror who became the first King of England and Wales in1066. The castle has been added to significantly over the past thousand years but a section of the original wall still exists, something that never fails to astonish visitors. 

Carrying out my research I was fortunate enough to have access to the diaries of a woman who as a young girl of twelve in the 1930s, was employed as a kitchen maid at the castle. Reading her account out loud – the long hours she worked, the tedious tasks she was made to carry out including scouring copper pans big enough to sit in! – never fails to fascinate schoolchildren and get them thinking about how tough life would have been for them a hundred years ago.

The Hometown History of Cardiff has sold well. When I do school workshops it’s gratifying to hear from teachers what a valuable resource it has become for local history projects. Children gain a better understanding of the history of their hometown and what makes it the place it is today – a vibrant twenty-first century city. 

Judging by the reviews adults enjoy reading it too. The great thing about history books of course is that they never become out of date!

My writing journey took a bit of a dip after my book on Cardiff came out. But that all changed in 2022 when I found a publisher for SOLD my YA novel on child trafficking. Based on real-life accounts the book tells the story of fifteen year old Roza who thinks she’s leaving Albania for a better life in the UK. When she arrives she discovers her father has sold her into slavery to pay off his debts. Forced to work as an unpaid servant, beaten and abused, Roza doesn’t think life can get much worse… until she escapes.

The main reason I decided to write on this bleak topic was to raise awareness among teens and young adults about this horrific trade. Reliable statistics show that thousands of children worldwide are unwittingly sold into domestic slavery by families too poor to raise them yet there remains a huge amount of ignorance about this form of people trafficking. 

SOLD is available from Amazon as an e-book; also in print – paperback and hardback. 

Amazon.co.uk : sold sue barrow

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A little bit about myself: As a child I loved writing stories. It wasn’t until I was in my thirties that I started to think about writing in a more serious way, with the hope of – one day – getting published. The 1980s were a busy time for me at home with five children but when the youngest started nursery I signed up for a correspondence course in creative writing (no Internet then of course!) and since then I haven’t stopped!

Cardiff is where I have called home for most of my life. I love walking the scenic Wales coastal paths, eating shellfish (though not at the same time!) and getting beaten by my family at board games!

Thank you to Authors Lounge for the opportunity to talk about my writing.




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