In October 1842 Sarah Forster was married, on the same day as her sister, at Stockton-on-Tees in North East England. Before long her happy carefree life was shattered and tragedy forced her to send her two youngest sons to be brought up in a charity school in Yorkshire. Hardest of all was parting with thirteen year old Tom and sending him across the Atlantic, alone, to live with his uncle and aunt in Williamsburg, New York. Tom was soon to be caught up in the American Civil War and now his mother feared for the life of her affectionate, eldest son. He found he could no longer count on letters from home and came to cherish the photograph of his two brothers which his mother had sent. Would he ever see his family again? Theo Howells, born and educated in North East England, submitted her first stories to BBC's Children's Hour. A life of teaching, mainly in Yorkshire, left no time for serious writing but the pull of her roots brought her, in retirement, to a small village on the outskirts of Darlington and she began to write travel commentaries and, with Peter King, wrote the history of her local church.
Having made a home for an elderly aunt, she was stirred by her stories and "letters" to research and write this, her first full length book.