Author teams up with descendant of Booths supermarket founder

The Bolton News: Under the Spreading Chestnut Tree Under the Spreading Chestnut Tree

AN author teamed up with the great-great-grandson of a supermarket founder to write a story of love, loss and food production.

Val Scully wrote Under the Spreading Chestnut Tree with help from Edwin Booth, great-great-grandson of the founder of Booths supermarkets, which has 28 stores across the north of England.

Set partly in the aftermath of World War One and partly in the modern day, she hopes to see it made into a film with Bolton actress Maxine Peake in a lead role.

The 57-year-old said: “It’s got a dual time line. It starts out where a child goes missing from home in Lancashire in 1919.

“The second chapter, there’s a married woman whose marriage is a sham. She decides to try to make a new life for herself in Adlington.

“That’s where the child went missing in 1919, although she doesn’t know that yet.”

Ms Scully spent her summers at Harrisons Farm, Adlington, in the 1960s and 1970s, where her mother is from, and she will host a talk at Adlington Library, Railway Road, at 6.30pm on Monday, June 2.

Booths appears in both sections of the book, as a well-regarded employer in 1919 and also featuring a modern-day worker.

Ms Scully, who was an English teacher in the North East for 20 years, said: “Edwin Booth was fantastic. One of the themes of the book is food production and I knew about Booths and their policy of things like cutting down food miles.

She said: “I just wrote to him on spec last year and he invited me to come over to Longridge.

“It’s a theme about food production and land and farming.”

Ms Scully, who grew up in Salford, also has her eye on Downton Abbey’s Hugh Bonneville, Game of Thrones’ Sean Bean and Elbow frontman Guy Garvey for roles, as well as the Silk and Shameless actress.

She said: “I thought Maxine Peake would be perfect because both the women are straight-talking. When I started writing it, I always had Maxine Peake in mind. I’ve actually written to her.

“I just said she was my ideal person to play this part. I’ve got it all cast in my head when I’m writing it.

“You can dream. You never know with these things.”

She had the book self-published and said she was offered a publishing deal if she made it racier but refused.

She said: “There are two tasteful sex scenes and I wasn’t doing anymore.

“The soldier in the first part is based on my granddad. It’s all sort of my family history.”

  • Under the Spreading Chestnut Tree is available from amazon.co.uk.

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