A SOMERSET-based author is celebrating the successful launch of her second book in the Clarks Factory Girls series — based in Street during the First World War.

May Ellis, lives "in sight of Glastonbury Tor" and also writes under the name Alison Knight. She released the first book in the series The Clarks Factory Girls at War in March, and the second book, Courage for the Clarks Factory Girls, will be available from June 29.

The story is based on characters working in the shoe factory in Street at the start of the First World War and follows three young women through the war years.

May said: "This is my seventh published novel [The Clarks Factory Girls at War]. It’s my most successful to date, thanks to the efforts of my new publisher, Boldwood Books. In the first three weeks, nearly three thousand copies were sold."

 Courage for the Clarks Factory Girls will be available from June 29.Courage for the Clarks Factory Girls will be available from June 29. (Image: May Ellis)

The book has been bought by readers in Australia, Canada and the US as well as the UK. She believes that the global appeal of the internationally-recognised Clarks shoe brand has helped.

May added: "I’ve also had an amazing amount of support from the people of Street, who have helped me with my research and continue to cheer me along as I write the rest of the series."

About 120 people attended her book launch at the Street Quaker Meeting House in March, which the author said was "quite overwhelming."

Attendees included past and present employees of Clarks as well as members of the Clark family and the Chairman of Street Parish Council, Mr Bryan Knickerbocker.

The Clarks Factory Girls at War covers the lives of the women from 1914-1915. The next book in the series, Courage for the Clarks Factory Girls, continues the story into 1916, when conscription into the armed forces was introduced

May said: "The second book is a real tear-jerker. It reflects the struggles and losses of ordinary men and women during the Great War.

"Whether a family had sons, brothers or husbands fighting in the trenches, or were – like many pacifist Quakers in Street – trying to protect their right to follow their faith by refusing to take up arms against another human being, they all faced difficult times."

May will be at the Frome Small Publishers Fair on Saturday July 6 with copies of her books. She will also be the guest speaker at Wells Library at 10.30am on Wednesday July 10.

Her work is far from over – the third book in the series is currently with her editor and is due out later this year. In the meantime, she has signed a new six-book contract with Boldwood Books.

May added: "I’m going to busy until the end of 2026, by which time I will have had nine books published by Boldwood in three years. 

"I’m just about to begin writing the fourth Clarks Factory Girls book, which will take the characters to the end of the war.

"I’m also doing research for my next series, which will be set in Somerset in the Second World War. I love what I do and am thrilled that readers seem to like these stories."