Meet Rosie Lear
Rosie Lear lives in Motcombe, near Shaftesbury, Dorset. Rosie has always written - play scripts, pantomimes, articles, slush stories for magazines - but until now has not sought publication.
She was born in 1941 and lived her early years with her maternal grandparents whilst her father was serving in India. On his return from war time service, the family moved to Sussex where she went to a variety of primary schools before finally passing the now largely defunct 11+ and attending Worthing High School for girls.
She claims to have been born reading! Never without a book in her hand she frequently landed in trouble for reading with a torch under the bedclothes, but due to the number and variety of primary schools she attended, her ability to count beyond the extent of her fingers and toes is severely limited!
She became a teacher, training at Salisbury training college, and ultimately a B.Ed., from Plymouth University which led to a variety of teaching posts before marrying and moving to Cornwall where she and her husband had purchased a small hotel. With two young boys, baby twin girls and a hefty mortgage she returned to teaching at the local comprehensive school to finance the hotel, and remained in that post for twenty years! The family relocated to Dorset after early retirement and the writing began in earnest.
Her interest in Medieval Sherborne began after a visit to Sherborne Abbey carol service sparked her imagination. A year of research followed. Sherborne has an incredibly rich history which is a gift for the imagination, and Matthias Barton was born. He then sat in a drawer for seventeen years while she returned to teaching, this time in a school for children with autism, and then more seriously, to support and care for her husband who had Parkinson’s disease with Lewey Body dementia. After his death, the children all now grown and flown, she took Matthias Barton out of the drawer and decided to give writing in the genre her full attention.
What started the Sherborne Medieval mysteries?
In 2002 I attended a Christmas Carol service in Sherborne Abbey. We arrived early in order to have a good seat and whilst waiting for the carols to begin, I imagined a murder taking place in one of the side chapels ... sinister monks against innocent apprentices. The idea was born!
How much research did you have to do for this?
I am not a historian by profession, my subject is English literature. I trawled the museum and Abbey, bought books, read the history of Sherborne and discovered the battle of the fonts and the fire in 1436/7. Background reading meant I bought all I could find on that period of history. I also paid a vast sum in an antiquarian bookshop for a copy of Medieval Sherborne by Joseph Fowler.
How did Milborne Port come to be involved?
I was driving to Sherborne one morning for another walk in and around the Abbey and I passed a signboard in Milborne Port which pointed to XII church. That clinched it! I drove round by the church, went in, studied the contour of the land just there, and the house of Matthias Barton rose in my mind...
Why a schoolteacher?
My own background has always been in education so I leaned towards what I knew.
Where do the ideas come from?
The ideas are inspired by the actual historical events in Sherborne with the reign of Henry VI as a background. Sherborne has an amazingly fertile history and I’ve found it a gift to the imagination.