The Next Chapter

Why Trudy J. Morgan-Cole explored the experiences of female colonists in the 17th century

The St. John's writer talks about her novel A Roll of the Bones.
Trudy J. Morgan-Cole is a writer and educator from St. John's. (Emma Cole, Breakwater Books)

Trudy J. Morgan-Cole is a writer and teacher in St. John's. She writes historical fiction and many of her books are set in or near her Newfoundland home. 

Her latest book, A Roll of the Bones, goes back to the establishment of the settlement of Cupids in Newfoundland. It zeroes in on the lives of the women of the colony.

Morgan-Cole stopped by The Next Chapter to talk about A Roll of the Bones.

Uncovered stories 

"A Roll of the Bones is a story about three young people from England who end up crossing the ocean among the original English colonists in John Guy's Cupids Colony in Newfoundland in 1610. It explores their experiences, the relationships among them and the other colonists. 

The thing that really fascinated me about this story is the women's stories — and particularly the women's stories that don't get told.

"The thing that really fascinated me about this story is the women's stories — and particularly the women's stories that don't get told. This is a common thread through all my historical fiction."

The NL-based Cupids Legacy Centre commemorates the 400th anniversary of the establishment of the first English settlement in Canada. (CBC)

More than a shipment of goods

"When I was reading a little bit about the Cupids Colony [in Newfoundland] — which I didn't even know at the time — I came across the fact that John Guy planted a colony of 39 men there in 1610.

The fact that the women were listed that way in the chronicle, as if they were cargo along with the livestock, fascinated me. I felt there was an untold story there.

"He went back to England and two years later returned with a shipment of goods for the colony which included 60 goats, 10 heifers, two bulls — and 16 women.

"The fact that the women were listed that way in the chronicle, as if they were cargo along with the livestock, fascinated me. I felt there was an untold story there. 

"If it couldn't be uncovered through historical research — then it had to be explored through the novelist's imagination. The stories of my main characters are pretty much all invented but they're set against the very realistic backdrop of the things that we do know happened in the Cupids Colony."

Trudy J. Morgan-Cole's comments have been edited for length and clarity. 

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