Fake Mermaids, Real Courtesans and 18th Century Mermaid Science with the author of “The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock”
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We’re back with more mermaid authors and mermaid history! Laura von Holt interviewed the lovely and talented Imogen Hermes Gowar, the author of a new book titled The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock. The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock is a gorgeous historical novel, set in 1780s London, about a merchant named Jonah Hancock who finds that, while on a trading voyage to the Far East, the captain of his ship has sold his vessel, and instead of bringing back cargo, he has brought him a mermaid artifact. To make back his fortune, Jonah must display this brown, wizened mermaid for all of London, which leads him into the circle of one of London’s most celebrated courtesans, Angelica Neal. I don’t want to spoil anything for you, but there are plenty of mermaids, both dead and living in this book, and it’s wonderful. This story is inspired by a mermaid specimen at the British Museum, where Imogen Hermes Gowar used to work, and if you listened to our interview with mermaid historian Sarah Peverley (Season 2, Episode 2), you will remember our conversation about these types of popular mermaid artifacts that were collected and displayed in Britain.
The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock is shortlisted for the Women’s Prize in Fiction. If you like Harlots on Hulu, Freeform’s Siren and Jane Austen, then you will love this book. At the end of the interview, host Laura von Holt comes up with a slogan that we all need tatted on our bodies: If you can believe in mermaids, you can believe in yourself!
- Harlots on Hulu
- courtesans and sex workers in 18th century London
- 18th century life in London
- mermaid history
- “feejee mermaids”
- mermaid exhibits in The British Museum
- Ningyo, Japanese water sprites
- The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar
- Mermaid Podcast’s interview with Sarah Peverley
- The Covent Garden Ladies by Hallie Rubenhold
- The Gloaming by Kirsty Logan
- Surface Breaks by Louise O’Neill
- The Pisces by Melissa Broder
- Blackfish, the documentary
- believing in mermaids
- coastal stories of mermaids
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Buy The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock
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Meet The Mermaids In this Episode
Trade, Davos, Ocean travel and Mermaids: BBC Interview with Sarah Peverley & Imogen Hermes Gowar.
Photo credit: Ollie Grove
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