Ben Gwalchmai’s debut novel Purefinder tells the story of a man making his way through Victorian London, a Gothic thriller and Dantean exploration of London, loss and fraternity; mystery, blood, mud and guts combined.
Fictional writings about life in Victorian times often centre around murder, sex, scandal and intrigue, but in Purefinder, Ben Gwalchmai ets to the heart of Victorian London with remarkable historical accuracy through the eyes of a particular class of Victorians – the purefinders.
The Victorians invented the word ‘purefinder’, which referred to someone who collected dog muck from the streets so they could sell it to leather tanners who would then use it to purify leather. So dog muck became know as ‘pure’ to those that found it.
Bryn Prifardd Llewes ap Llwyn, or Bryn ‘Purefoy’ Lewis as he’s known, is an optimistic, hard-working Welshman who emigrated to London with his wife to find his fortune. He has all the concerns and wishes any of us have. When his initial work didn’t provide enough money to live well in London, he took the job no-one wants – purefinding – in order to keep going. Purefinders were shunned by many but Bryn takes satisfaction in his very survival, something the man he meets on April 2nd, 1858 puts to the test.
A compelling and timely portrait of Victorian London, Purefinder brings to life the grim day-to-day reality of the truly poor in London, the pure Londoners, with all the murder, sex, betrayal, violence, booze and grime that their lives carried with them.