Annelise Gray is something of an expert when it comes to Imperial Rome. She studied classics at Cambridge and was awarded a PhD for her research on women of the Roman Empire. This led to the publication of a nonfiction book about the First Ladies of Rome. She has also written a crime novel for adults set during this period. And now she teaches Latin to school children.
She also has a passion for horses, which were an important part of her childhood. She was inspired by Enid Bagnold‘s story, National Velvet, about a young female jockey racing at the Grand National.
These interests come together in her debut novel for children, Circus Maximus. It’s a thrilling equestrian adventure set during the perilous period when Caligula was emperor.
Annelise joined me #InTheReadingCorner to talk about the background to this compelling story,
About the book
Circus Maximus, the greatest sporting stage of the ancient Roman world, where the best horses and charioteers compete in a race to the death, and one girl dreams of glory. Ben Hur meets National Velvet in the ultimate 9-12 adventure story by debut children’s author, Annelise Gray. Twelve-year-old Dido dreams of becoming the first female charioteer at the great Circus Maximus.
She’s lost her heart to Porcellus, a wild, tempestuous horse she longs to train and race. But such ambitions are forbidden to girls and she must be content with helping her father Antonius – the trainer of Rome’s most popular racing team, The Greens – and teaching the rules of racing to Justus, the handsome young nephew of the Greens’ wealthy owner. When her father is brutally murdered, she is forced to seek refuge with an unlikely ally.
But what of her dream of Circus triumphs and being reunited with the beloved horse she left behind in Rome? And the threat to her life isn’t over as she faces a powerful and terrifying new enemy… the emperor Caligula.