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Author releases debut novel with support from Pen to Print scheme

PUBLISHED: 07:00 12 January 2018 | UPDATED: 10:45 15 January 2018

Eithne Cullen has written her debut book called The Ogress of Reading with help from Barking and Dagenham's Pen to Print scheme

Eithne Cullen has written her debut book called The Ogress of Reading with help from Barking and Dagenham's Pen to Print scheme

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An author given a boost by Barking and Dagenham Council’s Pen to Print scheme has released her debut novel.

Eithne Cullen has written her debut book called The Ogress of Reading with help from Barking and Dagenham's Pen to Print scheme Eithne Cullen has written her debut book called The Ogress of Reading with help from Barking and Dagenham's Pen to Print scheme

Eithne Cullen’s story The Ogress of Reading is part fact, part fiction, and tells of the chilling case of Amelia Dyer, who admitted to 400 murders of young children in the 1890s.

Despite the shocking nature of her crimes, Amelia Dyer is still relatively unheard of, something that Eithne, 60, is keen to shed light on.

“Jack the Ripper killed five people, and everyone has heard of him. Dyer killed hundreds,” she said.

The horrifying tale centres around the then widespread practice of baby farming, where people were paid to adopt children born out of wedlock, a terrible shame in Victorian times.

However, Amelia did not raise the children as promised, but instead started to kill them and dump their bodies them in a river.

A police investigation ensued, leading to Amelia admitting her crimes and being executed in Holloway prison, which is where Eithne, of South Woodford, picked up on the story.

She said: “I was doing some research on dangerous women in Holloway prison when I came upon the story which fascinated me.”

Although the retired English teacher has always written poetry and taken part in creative writing classes, this is her first published book. Her efforts were greatly helped by Barking and Dagenham Council, and in particular their Pen to Print scheme.

Run by the council’s library service, the scheme is aimed at anyone interested in poetry, short stories, play writing or novels.

Eithne was given a mentor to help with her work, and credits the scheme as being a big help to her efforts.

She is now writing her second book, about obsessive love, entitled “Never not in my thoughts”.

Her advice to anyone interested in writing is, if they have the time, to “go for it”.

Eithne will be launching her book at Barking Library on Thursday, January 18. Free tickets can be obtained from eventbrite.co.uk

The Ogress of Reading is published by New Generation Publishing and is available from Amazon, priced £6.99 in paperback or £4.99 for an ebook version.

Anyone interested in the Pen to Print project can find out more at lbbd.gov.uk.

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