Journeys Over Land and Sea

An illustrated children’s story about Pilgrim Mary Brewster

There are lots of story books out there about the voyage of the Mayflower, but it’s not as easy to find a story that tells you about what happened before the Mayflower – and all the journeys that were involved to get to that point of departure, 400 years ago. Historian Anna Scott and illustrator Neil Baker have produced an illustrated story that does just that, putting the story of the Pilgrims’ roots at the heart of a beautifully imagined pictorial tale.

The famous ship set sail in 1620 with 102 passengers, including a woman in her early 50s named Mary Brewster. Mary was from Nottinghamshire originally, and was one of the Separatists who fled the country in 1608 in fear for her safety along with her young family.

We don’t know what Mary thought about this turn of events, we don’t have her thoughts from a diary, we don’t know if she was pleased to leave, apprehensive, scared or excited – but we do know the journeys she took, travelling by land and across the seas, with whom and when. That tells us a lot about what she must have endured all those years ago.

So many things happened to the Separatists (who later became known as the Pilgrims) that it makes for an exciting story with lots of unexpected twists. Anna Scott became fascinated particularly with what life must have been like for the women travelling at the time, especially when we can’t know what they were thinking:

“Many of the Mayflower’s passengers were women, some travelling with young children or as servants – what a journey that must have been! But even more interesting is finding out about all the journeys many of them had to make even before they boarded that ship. By focusing on one of those women, Mary, we’ve been able to tell a story of faith, perseverance and what must have been, at times, massive personal sacrifice. Neil’s illustrations capture the essence of these themes and make it really accessible as a visual narrative – his pictures really are worth a thousand words.”

From Neil’s perspective, “When illustrating Journeys Over Land & Sea I was particularly concerned with the distances they travelled and the landscapes they passed through. I wanted the environments and the atmosphere of these locations to help carry some of the emotion Mary and her family might be feeling. The changing scenery I hope emphasises the enormity of their sacrifice and determination in the hope of realising a better life.”

The book will be launched on Thursday 26 November and will be made available to all schools across West Lindsey. Copies will also be available to purchase and stockist opportunities will also be available. To register your interest please email [email protected].

‘Journeys Over Land and Sea’ was made possible with thanks to funding from Arts Council England.