There was once an Asian elephant called Lizzie who in WWI left the circus and went to work carting munitions, machines and scrap metal around Sheffield.
Lizzie by all accounts was a bit of a character. There’s stories of her eating other carter’s lunches, putting her trunk into somebody’s window and stealing their dinner, stealing a schoolboy’s cap, and being in goal during a football match against a rival team.
She was made a special pair of leather boots to protect her feet from the metal rubbish, which littered the ground at the scrap metal yard. They were probably a lot like these elephant boots on display in Northampton museum.
Lizzie is the inspiration for my new book ‘The Runaways’. Only I decided to have my elephant helping on a farm (which they also did in WW1).
When I started my research for the book I didn’t know what a journey it would take me on as I discovered more and more about these amazing animals. I was horrified and appalled when I learnt about some of the cruel ways they’ve been treated and are being treated today. But also uplifted and given hope by the many stories of human kindness and elephant awesomeness. All the things the elephants do in the book are based on only a very few of the discoveries I made during my research.
The runaways in the story are an old circus dog called Harvey and a baby elephant called Tara who runaway from the circus and embark on a perilous journey in a desperate race against time to reunite Tara with her mum, Shanti, who’s been sent to work on a farm, before it’s too late…