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Historic novel inspired by the Wickhambrook author’s finger

Author John Bean ANL-160729-120238001
Author John Bean ANL-160729-120238001

An operation on a crooked finger and tracing his family tree inspired John Bean’s first novel.

After three non-fiction books, John, from Wickhambrook, has based Trail of the Viking Finger (Troubador, £7.99) loosely on his family tree but the title refers to a condition called Dupuytren’s contracture or ‘Viking finger’.

John Bean's novel Trail of the Viking Finger ANL-160729-120225001
John Bean's novel Trail of the Viking Finger ANL-160729-120225001

John was operated on for it about six years ago and was told that it is said to affect people with Viking ancestry.

“That’s part of the inspiration,” he said. “I was also trying to pursue my family tree, the male side I got back to about 1530 or 1540.”

A DNA test suggested that he had a Y-chromosome that indicated Danish ancestry.

Set mainly in Yorkshire and Tyneside, but with several mentions of Suffolk, his novel deals with the descendants of the Byrne family, whose founder was a Dane, Bjorne the Red.

It follows the lives of this family, with its love, lust and sometimes medieval violence, over a 900-­year period from 1066 onwards, from being Yorkshire farmers, through family were at the birth of the Industrial Revolution as labourers, toolmakers, a miller and, eventually, middle­ management,

John’s first book was published 21 years ago, called Ten Miles from Anywhere – the distance from Wickhambrook to Haverhill, Newmarket and Bury St Edmunds. It was based on contributions to a bi-monthly village magazine he then edited.

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