Annie Brassey was the author of one of the bestselling books of the Victorian era. When, in January 1873, her four year-old daughter, Constance, died of scarlet fever, Annie commissioned the building of a 160-foot steam-yacht in her memory.
The yacht was named ‘Sunbeam’, after Annie’s nickname for Constance, and its figurehead was a golden statue of the little girl. Annie moved her four surviving children on board – together with two thousand books – and in 1876 set off right around the world. Her account of their travels, ‘Voyage in the Sunbeam,’ a synthesis of family drama and high adventure, was a publishing sensation - the equivalent of reality television for the Victorians, heightened by the Brassey family’s extraordinary wealth.
However the worldwide fame it brought Annie was to be her undoing. Like her granddaughter, The Bolter, Annie’s life was lived, not always flatteringly, in the public eye. Yet Annie could not bear to let her success fade. She kept writing, pushing herself to travel further, and harder, and simply do more, than before. Frances is writing the story of this remarkable woman, who lived to the maximum in everything she touched, and whose life came to a tragic and early end.