The English Civil War in Dorset inspires a historical novel

A NEW novel is set in the English Civil War in Dorset, from Poole to a beleaguered Lyme Regis.

Steve Cox has spent more than two decades researching and writing As The Sparks Fly Upwards, which tells the story of ordinary people caught up in tumultuous events.

A key part of the book focuses on the Siege of Lyme Regis in 1644, when supporters of Oliver Cromwell’s Parliamentarians repelled an attack by Royalist forces loyal to Charles I.

“Learning about siege was one of the triggers for writing the novel,” Mr. Cox said.

“I was amazed that a small fishing town deep in a valley, with no significant defenses, could withstand an army for six weeks and be victorious.”

Its story begins in Poole and moves to Wareham, Wimborne, Bridport, Dorchester, Charmouth and Lyme Regis, before returning to Dorchester and Poole.

He said: “As the Sparks Fly Up is the start of a series of books about the life of my hero Tom Tyler. The story begins with Tom losing everything. He loses his family, his job and his home , and is thrown into the midst of the English Civil War, in mid-winter.

“He finds himself on a journey to try to rebuild his life, but first he has to learn how to stay alive, and he can’t do it alone.”

Mr Cox has lived in Poole for over 25 years and is Managing Director of a tree company, Treecall Consulting Ltd. His only previous book is on this subject, Urban Trees: A Practical Management Guide.

The author said he spent many hours at the Dorset History Center “trying to get these details not absolutely, 100% correct but authentic enough to make it feel like a story set in that time”.

He added: ‘You can disappear down a research rabbit hole for months, especially trying to figure out ‘How did they do this and why? and then something else.”

The 63-year-old author has started a new company, Frith Publishing, to release the book and put it in stores. He is already writing the second novel in the series.

The book is on sale at Gullivers, Wimborne; DJ Brooking, Parkstone; Lyme Regis Bookstore; Toller’s Little Books, Beaminster; and the Dorset Bookshop, Blandford, as well as online. Details are at

Irene B. Bowles