Today I would like to welcome you all on my stop on the Blog Tour for The Caseroom By Kate Hunter and I would like to share a guest post written by the author, with all of you. Thank you very much to Kelly from Love Books Group Tours for the invitation. Please do show some love to all the wonderful book bloggers on this blog tour by following and sharing their work. 🙂
Publisher: Fledgling Press
Genre: Historical Fiction
Release date: 31 05 2017
Price*: Kindle £2.84 (GBP)/ Paperback £9.99 (GBP)
Pages: ~ 372
You can get this book here:
Description of the book: Kate Hunter is a debut author with a compelling new novel that examines a little explored period in Scottish history: Edinburgh’s print industry in the late-nineteenth century, a volatile time of significant change.
In The Caseroom, Edinburgh is at the heart of Britain’s print industry with St Leonards and Canonmills ringing with the clamour of print works. Determined to follow her father and older brothers into the print trade, Iza Ross enters the caseroom of Ballantynes Pauls works in Causewayside as a callow thirteen-year old.
Set in the thick of workers lives in Edinburgh’s thriving print industry, follow Iza into the arcane world of the caseroom where she learns the intricacies of a highly-skilled trade where she becomes a hand-typesetter, work that had been, and was to become once more, a male preserve.
Despite hostility to the cheap labour that women represent, Iza persists in work that allows her to feed her imagination on books. But holding on to her trade means hardening herself to the needs of those she loves. And when the men’s union moves to eliminate women from the caseroom and a We Women movement forms to oppose them, there is no middle ground.
Torn between class and gender loyalties and embroiled in a bitter labour dispute, Iza must choose sides.
The Caseroom: Inspiration By Kate Hunter
When I learnt that my grandmother had been a compositor, or typesetter, at the turn of last century, the question was: how come? Apart from her, the women of my family appeared in census records as envelope folders or domestic servants. And my own work across the print industry and trade unions told me that until the invention of computers typesetting was a male domain.
Wrong. I discovered that my grandmother was one of around 800 Edinburgh women who worked in the highly-skilled trade of making books out of millions of tiny slivers of lead, antinomy and tin. They were admitted to this bastion of the so-called labour aristocracy for only a few decades, coinciding with the heights of the women’s suffrage movement. How did they manage it, and what happened to get them ejected once again?
I immersed myself in the National Library of Scotland’s print industry archives. It was wonderful. Helpful staff wheeled trolleys of treasure to my desk: a heartrending 1872 strike minutes book; 1890s’ union chapel minutes, details in beautiful copperplate of the struggles of daily working lives. The trivial and the critical.
I researched, made discoveries, visited Victorian print museums and workshops and finally learnt the rudiments of hand-typesetting. And I became convinced that these women’s story needing telling, not least because it involved the making of books, which then as now played a huge role in enriching lives.
Most, if not all, working-class women had to sell their labour, but it was rare indeed for them to do skilled manual work of this level, and to be recognised as time-served, following a formal apprenticeship. It was very important to me that The Caseroom should chronicle the struggles of people who physically made books – the hard conditions, their social and working lives, and the impact of trade unions.
Iza Ross Orr, my protagonist, is not my grandmother. Like most working-class folk my family left little or no record of their lives. But in The Caseroom I sought to bring to life the experience of the likes of her – people who lived at a time of turbulent events, whose lives were touched by them, and who played their part.
About the Author: Kate Hunter’s father’s family earned a living in the Edinburgh print trade. They made books and newspapers; they read them, but they never got the chance to write them. Kate has read thousands of books and helped to make a fair few. Now she’s written one. She grew up in Edinburgh, worked in a printers there when she was fifteen and, later, was a Mother of the Chapel in Milton Keynes where she now lives.
*-the price was taken from Amazon.co.uk at the current date. The price might change at the time of your purchase. The links used in this post for book purchases are affiliates.