Shark Alley: The Memoirs of a Penny-a-Liner

Shark Alley by Stephen Carver

Adrift in the Atlantic with a scheming Tory MP.

Surrounded by sharks.

Low on booze…

‘I can fancy a future Author taking for his story the glorious action off Cape Danger, when, striking only to the Powers above, the Birkenhead went down; and when, with heroic courage and endurance, the men kept to their duty on deck.’

– William Makepeace Thackeray, speech to the anniversary
meeting of the Royal Literary Fund Society, reported in
The Morning Herald
, May 13, 1852.

‘How do you like Forster’s Life of Dickens? I see he only tells half the story.’

– William Harrison Ainsworth, letter to Jack Vincent, January 25, 1872.

Jack Vincent used to be famous, part of a rising generation of literary authors that included Dickens, Ainsworth and Thackeray. Now he’s a nobody, scratching a living as a freelance journalist writing for a penny a line. Worse, the only job he can get is on a troopship bound for the frontier wars of colonial Africa. Outed as a friend of Dickens at the captain’s table, Jack recounts the events that have brought him to this fallen state. It is a journey that begins in the Marshalsea debtor’s prison and ends in the shark infested waters of the Western Cape and his berth on the HMS Birkenhead, the Victorian Titanic.

Lost for over a century, Jack Vincent’s memoirs offer a history of the English novel that they don’t teach you in school, from his apprenticeship with the original Bill and Nancy to the boudoirs and brothels of Victorian London, while all the time the ship draws ever closer to Shark Alley…

Launching today as a paperback, e-book and free weekly online serial:


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