Jenny McVeigh graduated from Oxford University in 2002 with a First in English Literature. She went on to work in film, television, radio and publishing, before giving up her day job to write historical fiction. She has traveled across East Africa and South Africa, often in off-road vehicles, driving and camping along the way. The Fever Tree is her first novel.
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The Fever Tree first spoke to me on a dark winter's afternoon in the British Library. The hush in the reading room was broken only by the turning of old pages and the soft tapping of keys. I was researching the history of English colonials in South Africa, and amongst the books stacked on my desk was an old canvas- bound diary. The spine creaked as I opened it, and the gilt lamp spilled a pool of light onto its thick yellowing pages. The diary had been written by a doctor at the end of the nineteenth century, and it told the extraordinary story of a smallpox epidemic that had ravaged the diamond-mining town of Kimberley. Extraordinary because reading on it became clear that the epidemic had been covered up by the great statesman Cecil Rhodes to protect his investment in the mines.
The disease raged for over two years, killing thousands of men, women, and children, mostly African laborers. The tragedy was that the epidemic could have been brought under control in just a few months if the doctors had quarantined and vaccinated patients instead of denying its very existence. The doctor writing the diary had fought at great personal risk to bring the ...
Blood at the Root
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