Many years ago, I came across a copy of Memoirs of the Life of Colonel Hutchinson by Lucy Hutchinson. Contained within is The Life of Mrs Lucy Hutchinson, Written by Herself, A Fragment. The story of her mother, Lucy St.John, served as inspiration for this novel.
The recipes featured in the chapter headings are reprinted courtesy of the The Library at Wellcome Collection, London from Lady Johanna St.John’s Recipe Book (Ref: Saint John, Johanna, Ms.4338, 1680). Lady Johanna St.John was the daughter-in-law of Sir John St.John, 1st Baronet, and Lucy St.John’s niece by marriage.
These women’s paths almost certainly crossed during their lives. Since all three were keen herbalists, and practiced (as did most women) medicine, I like to think they exchanged recipes. Lucy St.John, while in the Tower, made the prisoners “broths and restoratives with her own hands” and this led me to reprint Johanna’s recipes as examples of these “physicks”.
The letters featured within the book are both authentic and fictionalised. My objective in writing this work was to only use primary sources as a foundation for the story, and whether it was transcripts of their letters, court hearings, parliamentary sessions and wills and testaments, I was fortunate to be able to capture voices through reading these fascinating documents. The extract of Sir Allen Apsley’s will is my transcription of his will on record at the British Library.
Many details of Lucy St.John’s life are unknown, but enough is recorded to serve as markers of her journey.
The rest of her path is historical fiction.