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Bladys of the Stewponey – a Fictional Account of a Woman’s Tragic Fate

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Like many of the other works of Sabine Baring-Gould, this novel is made to resemble a true story with highly precise details about the setting, history and geography of the location attributed to it. Considered by some to be a historic novel and by others a work of romance, this ingeniously written story outlines the hardships and difficulties that women at the turn of the 18th century still had to endure.

Bladys of the Stewponey is based on the story of the last woman burnt on the stake for treason; her crime: killing her own husband. Although the story itself is fictional, the surrounding areas, geography and even locations, as described by Baring-Gould, are extremely accurate.

Even Stewponey – the place where much of the story takes place – has been an actual inn until the beginning of the 21st century, and the story accurately describes how highwaymen used the Red Sandstone country – rich in caves and places ripe for a hideout – to find refuge.

Portrayed as a fictional story set in a location that holds numerous tales and stories about times gone by, the novel presents the story of a young woman that was offered as a prize by her father at a bowling match. Bladys of the Stewponey is set near Stautorn Castle in the late 17th century, and shows the events leading to the unfortunate marriage and life of Bladys, who rebelled against the barbaric ways women were treated at the time.

Although this is somewhat of a typical highwaymen story, it focuses a great deal on the experiences of the wronged maiden. The tale practically comes alive at the hands of Sabine Baring-Gould, showing an accurate portrayal of the mistreatment and brutal punishment set aside for women in the 18th century.

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