How ghost of heroic Harry slew dragon

Alnwick Castle launch for `ripping yarn'

Alnwick Castle launch for `ripping yarn'

Historic Alnwick Castle is once again providing the setting for tales of knights, dragons and all things magical.

The castle, famous around the world as the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and home to Harry Potter, is returning to the limelight in a new children's book featuring one of Northumberland's most legendary heroes.

Knight's Quest tells the tale of the ghost of young Harry Hotspur returning to the castle to break a curse that has fallen on Northumberland and doing battle with a fearsome dragon.

The book, written by AL Williams and illustrated by Sylvia Lynch, is to be launched at the castle on Wednesday.

And the first-time author, who went to school in Hexham says it is thanks to The Journal the book was written.

The teacher, who now lives in Leicester, saw an article about what children in the region knew about their heritage and famous figures.

She said: "Harry Hotspur had such an amazing life it seemed such a shame youngsters today don't know about him. So it was The Journal that really sparked it off."

After researching Hotspur, the medieval literature graduate sent off her first and last chapter to the castle and it was the glowing response of the Duke of Northumberland that persuaded her to complete the book.

The Duke has provided a comment praising the book, saying: "A ripping yarn for young knights and essential reading for dragon slayers."

The book is crammed full of North-East links with many references to Hexham, Northumberland and even Bedlington Terriers football club.

Said Ms Williams: "I think when you've lived in Northumberland you're very passionate about it, so it was a great opportunity to get loads of little mentions in there."

The story, which also includes regional folklore about dragons including the Lambton worm and the Longwitton Dragon, has already attracted a great deal of interest at the pre-publication stage and Northumbria publishers AC Group are confident it could soon become a series.

The author added: "I'm absolutely delighted. If you told me six months ago I'd have a book and I'd be going to the castle for its launch I would never have believed you.

"I still carry around a copy with me, just to keep reminding myself it's real."

Ms Williams and the book's illustrator will be at the launch on Wednesday. Also taking place will be a day of activities for children including swordsmen displays, birds of prey and a castle jester.

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