Long-listed for inaugural first novel award!
The Alum Maker's Secret has been long-listed for the first Peggy Chapman-Andrews Novel Award (Bridport Prize).


New link at the foot of this page to pieces in The Guardian and local papers. New bookshops including Waterstones - see right hand column. Now stocked in several North Yorkshire libraries.


Hi all - have just updated the site for the publication of the book.
Spread the word!


The Alum Maker's Secret is a novel by Stephen Chance set in the 18th century alum mining hamlet of Scarshead. 

             At the inception of the industrial era, Ana, daughter of a widowed Spanish urine trader, complains she feels 'bartered like a Moor' to procure work for her father in a desolate and inhospitable region of northern England.
            Making alum, a beautiful translucent crystal, essential to the dyeing of cloth, has been a lucrative business for centuries, however, its obscure and obnoxious manufacture, burning rocks and stirring together urine and seaweed, dominates a remote part of eighteenth century Britain.  
            Ana is put to work with the inheritor of the 'alum-makers secret', manager Robert, and witnessing the almost alchemical rituals of his work, an attachment starts to form. Shortly after her arrival a canny scientist-on-the-make arrives from London's Royal Society to investigate a disturbing discovery in a quarry rock fall.