A Proper Person to be Detained

Catherine Czerkawska

Catherine Czerkawska is a Scottish-based novelist and playwright who has written plays for the stage and for BBC radio and television, and published eight works of fiction.

Her latest book, A Proper Person to be Detained, is something of a departure: it tells the true story of the murder of her great-great-uncle in 19th-century Leeds.

Catherine’s novels include The Physic Garden, The Jewel, and The Curiosity Cabinet, which was shortlisted for the Dundee International Book Prize. Her latest novel, The Posy Ring, is the beginning of a trilogy set on the same Scottish island featured in The Curiosity Cabinet. She has edited For Jean, a collection of Robert Burns’ poetry and songs written for his wife, and Catherine’s short stories have been published in a wide variety of magazines and anthologies.

Catherine has taught creative writing for the Arvon Foundation and spent four years as Royal Literary Fund Writing Fellow at the University of the West of Scotland. When not writing, she collects and deals in the antique textiles that often find their way into her fiction.

A Proper Person to be Detained

by Catherine Czerkawska

  • RRP: £9.99 (print)
  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 9781912235537

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The story of a murder and its aftermath

On Christmas Night in 1881, John Manley, a poor son of Irish immigrants living in the slums of Leeds, was fatally stabbed in a drunken quarrel. The frightened murderer went on the run, knowing that capture could see him hang.

A few generations later, author Catherine Czerkawska begins to tease out the truth behind her great-great-uncle’s tragic death. But she uncovers far more than she bargained for.

In a personal family story that takes us from Ireland to the industrial heartlands of England and Scotland, from the nineteenth century to the twentieth, Catherine gives voice to people often maligned by society and silenced by history – immigrants, women, the working classes.

She unearths a tale of injustice and poverty, hope and resilience, and she is both angered and touched by what she finds. Catherine is driven to keep digging, to get to the very heart of life – and death – in the not-so-distant past.

REVIEWS OF A Proper Person to be Detained

“An emotional journey into a family’s past … This is a touching family memoir-cum-true crime story and far-reaching social history written with empathy, insight and warmth for those hardy souls who came before.” Family Tree magazine

“Stands out from the crowd for all the right reasons … [a book] clearly destined to be remembered … Catherine Czerkawska takes us on journeys that are deeply revealing about the lives lived only a few generations ago … a fine example of microhistory.” Undiscovered Scotland