Fleshmarket by Nicola Morgan


Fleshmarket by Nicola Morgan

It is Edinburgh, 1822, and young Robbie is eight years old when he witnesses his mother's pain and subsequent death from an operation - without anaesthetic - to remove a tumour from her breast at the hands of Dr Knox. Haunted by this terrible event, Robbie, his hapless father and baby sister Essie attempt to move on with their lives. But when Robbie's father loses all their money and disappears, Robbie is left to look after himself and his sister in the Edinburgh slums. Somehow he falls in with Burke and Hare, the two men whom Knox employs to 'collect' bodies for medical research. Robbie sees a way to avenge his mother's death. Convincing himself that Knox is having people killed for him to experiment on, Robbie eventually confronts him. But Robbie comes to realise that for all his hard-heartedness and corrupt methods, Knox's motives are ultimately for the good: to improve surgical conditions, and operate on patients with the greatest speed and therefore minimum risk. Robbie eventually trains to be a surgeon, finally giving meaning to his mother's tragic death.


This is a tough thriller, a delicate love story and a powerfully evocative historical novel. At its heart is a young man's obsession with the mother he lost under horrendous, bizarre circumstances. Set in Edinburgh at a time in which the city was at the vanguard of medical advance, Morgan reveals the deep moral dilemmas that accompanied meaningful research at the time. Her descriptions of Edinburgh's Old Town, decaying, corrupt and dangerous, are extraordinarily vivid. Lives were cheap, both within and out of the medical faculty. Morgan is a confident, courageous and honest writer. Fleshmarket is a tour de force, from its attention-grabbing prologue onwards. Lindsey Fraser This book grabs you and never lets you go. The Glasgow Herald Outstanding ... a book that deserves attention The Bookseller A gripping and intelligent read. The Sunday Telegraph A dramatic and thought-provoking book. Nicola Morgan is a fine writer. David Almond Novel beginnings are seldom more dramatic or more grim than the first 10 pages of Nicola Morgan's Fleshmarket. This is sweat-on-the-forehead stuff. In the startling introduction to her story, Morgan, an uncompromising writer who doesn't believe in holding back, takes you straight to the painful centre of what is to follow and leaves you gasping. Fleshmarket is well and truly a book that thrills, but behind the rip-roaring plot there is a painful truth that none of us should ever forget. This is an important book that lives up to the expectations of its evocative title and dramatic cover. Stories don't come any more powerful than this. Sunday Young Post

About the Author

Nicola Morgan

Nicola Morgan

As a child

Nicola Morgan was born in a boys-only boarding school, and later attended a boys-only school until she was eleven years old. Consequently, she was brilliant at making bows and arrows, climbing trees and winning conker matches - none of which have been of any use to her whatsoever in later life. She loved writing though. She wrote her first ever actual story aged fourteen - in a public exam. She loved reading too, and spent most of holidays curled up with a book.

As an adult

Nicola Morgan first knew she wanted to write for a living when she was at university. Before that, she had thought that all writers were dead. She studied classics and philosophy at Cambridge. “That doesn’t sound very useful,” she says, “but it was the most useful grounding for a writer because it taught me to look very closely at language and meaning. She became an English teacher, later specialising and training in teaching children with reading difficulties. She is now an Ambassador for Dyslexia Scotland. She also helps writers understand about publishing, how to get published and the whole business of surviving and thriving as a writer.

As a writer

Nicola works in her garden office at the far end of her garden. All she can see from it is birds, trees, flowers and sky. She always uses a computer because she likes to change what she’s written a lot. A LOT! Main books: Mondays are Red, Fleshmarket, Sleepwalking, The Passionflower Massacre, Chicken Friend, Blame My Brain, Know Your Brain, Deathwatch, The Highwayman’s Footsteps, The Highwayman’s Curse, Wasted, Write to be Published, Tweet Right – the Sensible Person’s Guide to Twitter, Dear Agent Write a Great Synopsis, People Who Made History in Ancient Greece, Lots of Thomas the Tank Engine books and home learning books

Things you didn't know about Nicola Morgan

I am obsessed by boots and shoes and each time I get a new book contract I treat myself to more. I do press-ups every day. Well, almost. I am frightened of frogs. I have one leg longer than the other. Someone once tried to abduct me and my dog. I was born in a boys’ school and I went to school in a boys’ school till I was 11. My favourite foods are anchovies and stinky blue cheese. And Brussels sprouts. When I was a child I was very, very shy. Now I pretend not to be. My pet hate is people dropping litter. If I could wave a magic wand, I would stop teenagers suffering from too much stress.

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Book Info


272 pages
Interest Age: From 11 To 99


Nicola Morgan
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Author's Website



Publication date

16th October 2003



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