Real people, real stories

Real people, real stories


To celebrate the beginning of South Asian Heritage Month on 18th July, we’re absolutely delighted to be publishing The Royal Rebel by award-winning author Bali Rai. Retelling the true story of Princess Sophia Duleep Singh, The Royal Rebel is a fascinating account of an often forgotten female pioneer and heroine of history.

At Barrington Stoke we’re BIG fans of historical retellings and find they’re a fantastic way to engage students of all abilities – offering a fresh, more diverse perspective on well-known events or giving a voice to an overlooked story. Here is a little introduction to Sophia’s incredible life and more information on our inspiring collection of retold histories.


The Royal Rebel: The Life of Suffragette Princess Sophia Duleep Singh

by Bali Rai, with illustrations by Rachael Dean [RA 8 | IA 8+]

The Royal Rebel


"I had expected to become a perfect princess. Instead I had become a revoluntionary"

Born in 1876, Princess Sophia Duleep Singh was the daughter of the last Sikh ruler of the Punjab, and goddaughter of Queen Victoria. After her father lost control of his empire and was exiled to England, Sophia had a privileged but troubled upbringing that left her unsure about where she belonged – in India or England. Sensitive to injustice, she became a suffragette and fought hard to win the vote for women.

Transporting the reader between England and India, Bali Rai paints a vivid picture of Sophia’s unusual life and the incredible tenacity that led her to activism. Featuring intricate chapter vignettes from Rachael Dean that illustrate the different stages of Sophia’s life, and pulling together themes of identity, belonging and injustice, this engrossing novel is a perfect accompaniment to lessons on the Suffragettes.


More incredible lives to discover:

Rose's Dress of Dreams
Rose’s Dress of Dreams

by Katherine Woodfine, illustrated by Kate Pankhurst [IA 5+]

Young Rose dreams of sewing beautiful dresses for the women of Paris. But when a chance encounter with royalty changes her life, Rose must draw on all her skills to create the most breathtaking dress of them all.

Based on the life of Rose Bertin, the woman credited with creating haute-couture and a remarkable pioneer of fashion at the court of Marie Antoinette.


The Girl with Her Head in the Clouds

The Girl with Her Head in the Clouds

by Karen McCombie, illustrated by Anneli Bray [RA 8 | IA 8+]

When sixteen-year-old Dolly Shepherd is offered the chance to take to the sky in a hot-air balloon, there’s no way she’s going to turn it down. Even though the pilot actually plans for her to jump out of the balloon and plummet back to earth using just a flimsy parachute. For Dolly, it’s the start of a sensational career.

A re-imagining of the life of Dolly Shepherd, a fearless aeronaut of the twentieth century.


Race to the Frozen North

Race to the Frozen North

by Catherine Johnson, vignettes by Katie Hickey [RA 8 | IA 8+]

When orphan Matthew Henson ran away from his violent stepmother to find a new life in the big city, no one could have predicted that he would become the first man to reach the North Pole. A little luck and a lot of hard work led to a life of adventure on the high seas and in the Arctic, but back home in America his achievements were ignored due to the colour of his skin. Race to the Frozen North tells his remarkable true story.




by Michaela Morgan, illustrated by Karen Donnelly [RA 8 | IA 8+]

Walter Tull was a true hero and the first black officer in the British Army, but he had to fight for respect throughout his life. The grandson of a slave, Walter was brought up in a children’s home.

He had to fight against racism on the pitch as one of the first black professional footballers in the UK. Then he faced the greatest fight of his life on the battlefield during the First World War.


Over the Line

Over the Line

by Tom Palmer, illustrated by Ollie Cuthbertson [IA 8+]

It’s the proudest moment of Jack’s life – his debut as a professional footballer. Now he has a chance to achieve his dream of playing for his country. But it’s 1914 and the world is at war. Talk of sportsmen’s cowardice leads to the formation of a Footballers’ Battalion and Jack has little choice but to join up. The promise of a Cup in Flanders offers a glimmer of hope, but Jack and his teammates will have to survive a waking nightmare if they are ever to play again.

Inspired by the incredible true story of footballing legend Jack Cock.


Passing for White

Passing for White

by Tanya Landman [RA 8 | IA 13+]

It’s 1848 in the Deep South of America. Rosa is a slave but her owner is also her father and her fair skin means she can ‘pass for white’. With the help of Benjamin, her husband, she disguises herself as a young white man – and Benjamin’s master. In this guise, the two of them must make their way out of the South, avoiding those they have encountered before and holding their nerve over a thousand miles to freedom.

Inspired by the amazing true story of Ellen and William Craft.