Northampton-born author's new book tells the true story of an uncelebrated heroine in the court of Charles I

Michelle Hockley (left) signs a copy of Before Spring Came Summer for a happy customer.
Michelle Hockley (left) signs a copy of Before Spring Came Summer for a happy customer.

A Northampton-born author has returned to her hometown to promote her new historical novel about one of the celebrated heroines in the court of Charles I.

Michelle Hockley will be on the top floor of WHSmiths in the Grosvenor Centre between 11am and 2pm today (Saturday, February 2) to sign copies of her new book, Before Spring Came Summer.

Michelle Hockley studied the true story of her protagonist Jane Whorwood for 20 years.

Michelle Hockley studied the true story of her protagonist Jane Whorwood for 20 years.

It tells the true story of Jane Whorwood, an historically uncelebrated figure who nevertheless played a key role in the court of Charles I during the English Civil War in the mid-17th-Century.

Her story includes enduring the brutality of her husband, earning the trust of Charles I and even at one time hiding the Crown Jewels for the sake of her king.

Michelle discovered the life of Jane Whorwood while studying for her degree in History at Durham University, only to find her name crop up again and again across her 20-year career.

Michelle said: "I've been carrying Jane's story with me in my head for 20 years and I finally get to tell it.

Michelle will be signing copies of her book on the top floor of WHSmiths between 11am and 2pm today (February 2).

Michelle will be signing copies of her book on the top floor of WHSmiths between 11am and 2pm today (February 2).

"She was a fearless and strong woman. To stand out the way she did in the male-dominant courts of the 17th-century is extraordinary.

"Her life had so many twists and turns yet she's not a well-known figure of the time period. She was loyal to her king, she had energy and she always wanted justice."

Michelle was also at WHSmiths on Friday to promote her book, which she says will interest anyone with a love for historical fiction.

Her research into Jane's life is built on a 20-year career in academia, which includes working as a senior early modern record specialist at the National Archives.

After the death of her father when she was just five years old, circumstances led her to the inner sanctum of the royal court, where a path for an extraordinary life is laid out for her. In a society that limited the boundaries of women, in favour of decisions made by men of power, Before Spring Came Summer follows the twist and turns of her life.

Jane's journey also takes in Northamptonshire as her exploits reference the historic Holdenby House.