Sally Naldrett’s sister

28 March 2011 in The Mistress of Nothing

When I opened my email inbox this weekend, I found an email from a descendent of Sally Naldrett, the heroine of my novel, ‘The Mistress of Nothing’.  If you’ve read the novel, this will give you a shock - or indeed, a little shiver.  The mail was from a woman whose father traces his own family back to Ellen Naldrett, Sally’s sister.  He was born in Alexandria, though they are, I think, an English family, and returned to the UK sometime during the twentieth century. 

Ellen makes a few appearances in ‘The Mistress of Nothing’; she lives in Alexandria where she works as lady’s maid to Janet Ross, Lucie Duff Gordon’s daughter.  Ellen was one of the people who seems not to have spotted the fact that Sally was pregnant, though they saw each other just days before Sally gave birth on the Nile.  As well as that, at one point in my novel Ellen announces to Sally that she has plans to get married, though she has no idea who she’ll marry - not for her the lifelong role of spinster lady’s maid.  This announcement, this scene, was entirely fictional - I was looking for a way to demonstrate the extraordinary fact that lady’s maid were expected to not marry.  But it looks as though it turned out to be true, and that Ellen went on to have a family.  But the idea that both Naldrett girls might have stayed on in Egypt did not occur to me; perhaps Ellen was able to be more of a help to Sally after all.  Perhaps Ellen helped raise Sally’s child…

Truly extraordinary.  And it’s got me thinking… It would be great fun to research what happened to Ellen Naldrett.  And it would be so interesting to look into whether or not Omar really did go on to work for the Prince of Wales…


ttthomas, 1 April 2011, 02:39 AM

Oh my! That would be fabulous! I know from my own genealogy research that some amazing discoveries can be made, and I think pursuing an Ellen connection just might reveal something extraordinary about Sally. She was, after all, a very special person, both as you wrote her and as I think she must really have been. Hmm..wonder where Ellen is buried?
I loved The Mistress of Nothing…seductive, moving, beautifully written, very much a great basis for a movie, too! Keep us posted! And thank you! 


Kate, 1 April 2011, 06:59 AM

Hello TTT - thanks for your comment!  Yes, delving into that bit of history would be fascinating!  And thanks for your comments about the book - it has been optioned for film, so let’s wait and see!! Kate

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