Blackpool Libraries and Blackpool Social Club present author Claire McGlasson in conversation on 14th July. McGlasson will be discussing a historical novel about the disgraced Rector of Stiffkey and his Blackpool sideshows in the 1930s.

Margaret Finch has just begun work in a position that relies on her discretion and powers of observation – documenting the behaviour of working-class holiday makers in Blackpool in the interwar period. Harold Davidson, the disgraced Rector of Stiffkey, is the subject of a national scandal and has also arrived in the seaside town to win over the masses by appearing in its famous sideshows. Is Davidson a maligned hero or an exploiter of the vulnerable? Margaret is determined to find out but the pursuit of truth leads her down a dangerous path where her biggest obstacle might just be herself.

This photograph of Davidson with Estelle Douglas, taken on 28 March 1932, was critical evidence that led to his conviction by the Consistory Court. Photo credit: The Prostitute’s Padre by Tom Cullen

The Misadventures of Margaret Finch (Faber) is the new novel by ITV News Journalist and author of The Rapture Claire McGlasson. Set in Blackpool in 1938, the book takes two real life situations – the Mass Observation project and the Rector of Stiffkey’s sideshows – and imagines what would have happened if they collided.

McGlasson says: “Davidson was the rector of Stiffkey in Norfolk, defrocked by the Church of England for improper conduct. He appeared in sideshows in Blackpool in the late 1930s to protest his innocence. In the best historical fiction, the past holds a mirror up to the present. In Davidson’s story I saw echoes of the #MeToo movement and what we might imagine to be the modern cult of celebrity. He was painted by some as a saint, and by others as a sinner, but the novel explores the grey area in between: the gap between how a character sees the world and how the world sees them. I hope readers will make up their own minds about whether (and of what) he was guilty.

In a one-off free event, McGlasson visits Blackpool Central Library on 14th July at 6pm to read from her book before discussing it with Antonia Charlesworth Stack and taking questions from the audience. The book will be available to purchase and McGlasson will sign copies.

Antonia Charlesworth Stack is a journalist and editor of Blackpool Social Club. She is a contributing writer to the Lancashire Stories anthology and free copies will also be available on the night. You can listen to her story here. Tickets are free but limited. Book one on Eventbrite.


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  • Show Comments (1)

  • Ruth owens

    Such an interesting evening, fascinating to hear the process of how the story developed. So looking forward to reading both books. Only problem is, which one shall I read first?

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