Female; children: Tilly. Education: Earned B.A. (English); Oxford University, M.St. (women's studies). Hobbies and other interests: Gardening.
Follow Me Down, Oxford University Press (Oxford, England), 2003.
Work in Progress
A second novel, taking place during the English Civil War.
British author Julie Hearn, a former journalist who studied women's studies at Oxford University, became inspired to write Follow Me Down while trying to decide on a topic for her thesis paper. It was while she was researching a potential thesis topic that she became absorbed with a handbill for the Bartholomew Fair, urging the public to visit "The Changeling Child." "I kept wondering who this little person, with no teeth and a 'face no bigger than the palm of one's hand' could have been. And what had happened to her? That was it. That was my inspiration—the hook for the rest of the story," Hearn stated in an interview posted on the Oxford University Press Web site.
Follow Me Down intertwines the past and the present as readers follow Tom as he seeks to recover the corpse of an eighteenth-century giant who was one of the name "freaks" in the Bartholomew Fair. While the premise is definitely out of the ordinary, this particular story has a much deeper and promising message: finding one's inner strengths and beauties, and overcoming superficial obstacles. Tom's quest originates when he discovers a portal in his grandmother's basement that takes him into the eighteenth century. After arriving on the other side of this fantastical intersect, he finds himself among the freaks who were kept in this very same basement during the Bartholomew Fair. At first Tom cannot touch these individuals without inflicting pain, but he eventually breaks through this barrier. When asked to aid them in recovering the corpse of their friend the giant, Tom agrees, hoping to give the deformed man a proper burial.
Follow Me Down delves into the darker aspects of human nature and its portrayal of the abuse suffered by many of its characters made an impression on reviewers and readers alike. Jan Mark, reviewing the novel for the London Guardian, called Hearn's writing both "vital and evocative," while noting that the supernatural aspects of the novel are somewhat underdeveloped. Praising the work for introducing teen readers to the grittier aspects of eighteenth-century life, Kit Spring stated in the Observer that Follow Me Down is "a corker of a novel, original and rambunctious."
Biographical and Critical Sources
Guardian (London, England), September 6, 2003, Jan Mark, review of Follow Me Down, p. 32.
Observer (London, England), August 3, 2003, Kit Spring, review of Follow Me Down, p. 17.
Julie Hearn Web site, http://www.julie-hearn.co.uk/ (February 5, 2004).
Oxford University Press Web site, http://www.oup.co.uk/ (February 5, 2004), interview with Hearn.*