Wednesday 25 September 2013

The Wool-pack

The Wool-pack by Cynthia Harnett is a book that I first read aged about 11. Recently, I discovered it in the local library and had a happy reread.

The Wool-pack won the Carnegie Medal back in the early 1950s.

This is a "living book". A piece of historical fiction set in the reign of Henry VII with carefully researched detail and  occasional black and white drawings.

Nicholas is the son of a wealthy wool merchant from the Cotswolds.  He finds himself concerned about some Italian banker visitors and disliking his father's wool-packer. His father won't listen to his worries so Nicholas and his friend, Hal, have to sort things out. This involves a journey across the south of England, a mysterious barn and a map.

There are some fascinating extras, in particular, the story of Nicholas' arranged betrothal to the daughter of a wealthy cloth merchant and the events surrounding Christopher Columbus discovering the New World.

At the end of the book is a postscript explaining which parts of the book are based on fact and which on fiction and where various artifacts can be seen,

I found this book fascinating and recommend it for able readers above about 10. It fits in well with learning about early Tudor England.


Disclaimer: I read a library copy of this book because I wanted to reread it. The opinions are all my own and I have only been compensated with the enjoyment of a well written book.


  1. I only recently (this summer) discovered this book. I was interested in reading older Carnegie Medal books and could only find a few at our library. I ordered this book from Amazon hoping to add it to my son's British history course, and I absolutely love it! Do you have any more favorite older Carnegie Medal books to recommend? (I also like Pigeon Post and The Borrowers.)

  2. Debbie, I was only looking at the list yesterday and thinking that I should read more of them!
    The family at One End Street is very funny as are the others in that series.
    I read Radium Woman as a child but don't remember much about it.
    My husband recommends The lantern bearers, Watership Down and Collected stories for children.

    1. Thanks! I have read Watership Down, but I'll look into the other titles you mentioned.

  3. This is on the children's reading list after Christmas, so it is good to hear a positive review. Thanks for taking the trouble to write it (I hate writing reviews, but love reading other peoples!)