The Liar’s Daughter

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Published by: Quercus
Release Date: October 10, 2013
Pages: 320
ISBN13: 978-0857387844


When Nan Prunty's mother kept an alehouse in Portsmouth she renamed it The Duchess of Prunty, the title she claimed would have been hers had Lord Nelson lived. He was her lover. She saw him die at Trafalgar, or so she says. The details vary according to the amount of drink she's taken.

Nan makes her own determined way in life, but always haunted by the wish to know the truth about her father. From the ageing seamen at the Greenwich Hospital to the battlefields of the Crimea, Nan discovers the world is full of people with a story about Nelson.

There are questions we can never hope to answer. It doesn't stop us asking.


"Characters that breathe life and energy. A tour de force."
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"Laurie Graham has an uncanny ability to conjure up worlds and just when you’re laughing most she brings you to tears. A remarkable novelist."
—Libby Purves

"Graham has a knack for bringing alive the sights, sounds and smells of yesteryear."
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I’ve been in love with Horatio Nelson since I was seven. In 1954 my Dad, a Navy man himself, took me to Portsmouth Dockyard to see HMS Victory and stand on the very spot where a French musket ball ended the life of a great British hero. I suppose it was inevitable that someday I’d get round to writing about him.

Like all heroes Nelson has suffered the whims of fashion. England used to mark Trafalgar Day. No more. I doubt if you’d now find anyone on an English High Street who could tell you its date or its significance. Nevertheless Lord Nelson’s life has been much analysed and written up so I decided to come at the topic from a different angle: his personal legacy or more accurately, the mess he left behind him.

Nelson died young, though hardly unexpectedly given that he was a serving officer during a time of war, but he left his personal affairs in disarray and many questions unanswered. After his death several people claimed to be his love child, but the one person whose claim was strongest denied it, rather than have him labelled a philanderer and an adulterer.

Nan Prunty is the character I created to try and make some sense of the tangle of stories about Horatio Nelson.