Author Bea Davenport has used her own experiences of hair loss to inspire her debut children’s novel ‘The Serpent House’. Published later this month, The Serpent House tells the tale of Annie, a young girl hired to work as a servant for the mysterious Lady Hexer. When Annie discovers a way to travel back in time, Lady Hexer encourages her to track and steal a book of magical cures, including a cure for tuberculosis which killed her mother. But the book is owned and protected by a sinister doctor who is not keen on helping the young girl.
A first for children’s literature?
What makes Annie unusual in the world of children’s books is the fact that she is bald, having lost her hair to Alopecia Areata, a rare form of hair loss caused by an autoimmune disorder. According to Bea Davenport, “I’ve never found another book where the main character has lost her hair.”
The inspiration for Annie comes from Bea’s own experiences growing up with hair loss caused by Alopecia Areata. She first began losing her hair at the age of eight, and continues to wear a wig now into her thirties.
Raising Alopecia awareness
Copies of The Serpent House will be available for general purchase, but working with Alopecia awareness charity BeBold, copies are also set to be given away free to children affected by the condition. Talking about the new book, BeBold’s director Darren Payne said:
“To hear about a book which features a character with Alopecia by an author who has personal experience of it, is another fantastic way that children suffering with hair loss can feel normal and positive about their condition.”
Alopecia and children
Although scientists know that Alopecia Areata is triggered by an autoimmune disorder, the exact causes of the condition are still a mystery. Alopecia Areata can affect people at almost any age, as evidenced by Bea Davenport’s own experience.
Most people who develop Alopecia Areata have their first hair loss experience during their teenage years. Each case is completely different, so some people will only ever experience one episode of hair loss, whilst others will periodically lose hair in patches.