Durham, England, 1886: Your father is dead, your mother and six younger sisters are destitute. You have the chance to start a new life in Australia – alone. What would you do?

“A small girl’s fascination with a battered old box of letters and photographs from a pioneer family in Queensland leads to the discovery of a tale of industrial unrest in the mining communities of County Durham in the 1880s.

Spanning ten thousand miles and six decades, the narrative weaves between County Durham and Tamborine Mountain, Queensland, and explores the lives of ordinary folk, in Seaham and Australia, who faced extraordinary circumstances. Chronicling poverty, destitution, adventure, love, tragedy and an incredible coincidence, The Horsekeeper’s Daughter tells the story of Seaham and  her people. It focuses upon one remarkable woman,  Seaton farm servant Sarah Marshall,  who said her farewells to the pit villages of County Durham and travelled alone to start a new life in Australia in the winter of 1886.

The book unravels the social and economic factors which resulted in thousands of British women like Sarah leaving their homes and families for the new state of Queensland, through the government-sponsored Single Female Migrant Programme. The prejudice and adversity they encountered there, through the Brisbane boom time of the 1880s, the recession of the 1890s, and the incessant cycle of flood and drought, are all explored, along with the impact of the First World War and the Depression of the 1930s.

The experiences of Sarah and her family are paralleled with those of the loved ones she left behind in Seaham, as they faced their own struggles through times of political upheaval and financial deprivation. The Horsekeeper’s Daughter reveals how the author’s obsession with the story of Sarah Marshall impacts upon her own life and reawakens a century-long friendship between two families.”

You can purchase a signed print copy by clicking here or by navigating to the store page on the main menu.

Also available at Waterstones, Amazon and all good bookstores. Ebook also available here


“A North Eastern classic.”    Amazon, 5 stars

“Absolutely riveting from the first page to the last.”   Amazon, 5 stars.

“What a lovely historical read with a moving Durham-Queensland connection beautifully told by the little girl who was fascinated with a battered suitcase of old letters and photos. Highly recommended. Can’t wait to read more by the author.”   Amazon, 5 stars.

“Absolutely cracking read, very informative and extremely well researched. A must read for anyone from County Durham. It has it all, intrigue, tragedy, adventure, excitement and filled with extremely interesting facts.”  Amazon, 5 stars.

“A wonderful story of true dedication to wanting to have a better life . The dedication showed by the author in writing this book shows we have a up and coming writer and well worth looking out for.”  Amazon, 5 stars.

“Beautifully written and extremely informative. A fascinating insight into life at the turn of the 20th century. Well worth reading.”   Amazon, 5 stars.

Book cover for The Horsekeeper's Daughter

Cover artwork

Back cover The Horsekeeper's Daughter

Back cover design

I’d love to know your thoughts, opinions and stories. You can leave comments  and questions below.  Thank you!


Campbell Family Queensland 1915

The Campbell Family, Queensland c1915.


  1. Robert BJ Railton January 3, 2018

    My great-great grandmother was the Mary Ann Wyeth mentioned in your fascinating book; she was from Medstead Hants. Nothing is known of her from the time of her arrival on the Duke of Sutherland in 1886 to when she married James Sextus Holloway in 1901. She had a daughter Laura (my grandmother), and a son Alfred George; their father(s) are unknown as neither has a birth certificate and family lore has their birth dates as 1893 and 1895 respectively. Mary Ann was a domestic servant in England so it is presumed she also was a servant in Queensland. She died in 1908.
    I enjoyed your story immensely and send you all my very best wishes for the future.

    • Jane January 3, 2018 — Post author

      Hello Robert, thank you so much for your comments – wow that really is a staggering coincidence! I’m so glad you enjoyed the book, thank you for your good wishes.

  2. Angela reed May 31, 2018

    Really loved the book Jane had it finished in a day though x

    • Jane May 31, 2018 — Post author

      Hi Angela, Haha sorry it wasn’t a lot longer! Really pleased you enjoyed it x

  3. Sheila Plummer September 29, 2018

    I bought your book a few months ago and put it away to read on holiday, (which I have)…..thoroughly enjoyed it and have passed it onto my sister. I must admit I cried a tear on the last page.

    • Jane September 29, 2018 — Post author

      Hi Sheila. Thanks so much! Glad you liked it. Ha I was an emotional wreck by that point x

  4. helen rowe February 9, 2019

    hi my name is helen and would really love a copy of this book my nana is irene dean her last name was Campbell before she married her brothers name is bill Campbell I’m sure this book is about her family

  5. Emma Kennedy May 12, 2019

    I have learned so much from reading the horsekeeper’s daughter and getting to know where my ancestors came from. My great grandmother is Irene Sarah Dean(born Campbell), And my Ancestor is Sarah Marshall and getting to read all about Sarah Marshall and Sarah’s family in the horsekeeper’s daughter gives you an idea of what it was like back then. It’s been a big help with my family tree I’m now able to add more people to family tree through my great grandmother Irene’s side of the family.

  6. Lorna October 29, 2019

    I bought your book at Waterstones in Sunderland at the weekend, started reading it on the Metro yesterday and have finished it today. Couldn’t put it down. Fascinating. Who would have known what a story lay inside that tatty box. You have drawn the threads of it together in such a well written and compassionate way. Well done.

    • Jane October 30, 2019 — Post author

      Hello Lorna, thanks so much for getting in touch, I really do appreciate it. So glad you enjoyed it! If you have time to leave a review on the Waterstones site, Goodreads or Amazon that would be fabulous. Book 2 is nearly complete …
      best wishes

  7. David Kell December 13, 2020

    With interest in aircraft books I ordered Above us the stars and I thought I would give The horsekeepers daughter a go.I was very pleased I did, what a brilliant book.l could not put it down.As a co.durham lad(71) so lad is stretching it a bit,I could connect with the people and places.It is so well written and absorbing that I cried at the end( never before).I am now starting Above us the stars and really looking forward to reading this.Thank you for signing my books.All the best and keep up the good work.

    • Jane December 13, 2020 — Post author

      Hello David! Thank you so much for getting in touch. So glad to hear you enjoyed The Horsekeeper’s Daughter. There are a few names from that book you might recognise in Above Us The Stars too. Do let me know what you think about it! Best wishes, Jane .

  8. John McAllister September 22, 2021

    I have a signed copy of “The Horsekeeper’s Daughter”
    To: Sue and Mac Best Wishes
    And signed by the author
    It’s a great read since I knew many housekeepers and horses when I worked at Dawdon. But I can’t remember how I got the signed copy.

  9. Angela Mckay July 2, 2023

    I was in graystones in 1970s because I wouldn’t go to school and I keepted running a way from the homes I was scared at first but I was told by the older girls that I had to prove my self so it was my turn to lay tables for dinner my social worker. Came and that was my chance so I started throwing all the plates at her good job there were plastic I’m really looking forward to reading your book maybe it will kick my memory in

  10. David Goode February 3, 2024

    I grew up in Seaham but left in 1973 for university. Mum was born , lived and died there while my sister Joy Barrow and her family continue the family tradition.
    Reading your book the Horsekeepers Daughter while sitting on a beach in Victoria, Australia, ( where I live) I can relate to both countries but I can’t imagine the hardships people from both sides of the world endured, including my grandparents. Thank you for remembering them and helping me appreciate how lucky we all are to live in the times we do. They were true hero’s

    • Jane February 4, 2024 — Post author

      Hello David,
      Thanks so much for taking the time to comment. Hope you enjoy the book! You might like Above Us The Stars too, about a Seaham family during the war (again, a true story).
      Best wishes

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