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Author(s): Giles Foden

Location(s): Ladysmith

Genre(s): Fiction, Historical

Era(s): Late 1900s



In the dying days of the 19th century, the world’s eyes turned to the small South African town of Ladysmith, whose inhabitants spent 118 days under siege from Boer forces, waiting for General Buller’s relief forces. Giles Foden tells Ladysmith’s story through a host of characters. There’s the Irish hotelier Leo Kiernan and his daughters Bella and Jane: the barber Antonio Torres, from Portuguese East Africa: the various British war correspondents, including a young Winston Churchill: the Indian stretcher bearers, among them Mohandas Ghandi: a Zulu named Muhle Maseku, his wife Nandi and son Wellington: and two young English soldiers, Tom and Perry Barnes, whose letters home were apparently inspired by those of Foden’s great- grandfather. It’s a busy book, and it’s not always clear what’s going on. But that’s Foden’s point. At heart Ladysmith is a novel about the writing of history, set on the verge of modernity, where old ways of assessing historical truth were being cruelly questioned.

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Lead Review

You really get to imagine what it must be like living in an ordinary town that’s been turned into a battlezone. The contradiction between quaint English formalities and the brutalities of modern war is...

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Enter the 2021TripFiction 'Sense of Place' Creative Writing Competition!

A story in which the location plays as important a role as the rest of your words.

2,500 word maximum, 750 word minimum

Judges include Victoria Hislop and Rosanna Ley

First Prize of £1,000 / US$1,350

Prizes total £1,750 / US$2,362 

Winning entry published on TripFiction site and publicised on Social Media

Entries close 6th November 2021