In all of Sykes' novels he draws heavily on his own life experiences though none more so than in this, his third, semi-autobiographical novel. The Edward Beaumont of the novel is indeed Sykes; his solicitors practice and early political aspirations are featured along with his romance of the daughter of a Lincolnshire vicar. From newspaper articles we can also confirm that he was a councillor and a potential parliamentary candidate for the West Staffordshire constituency; his embroilment with the weavers dispute, bankruptcy and his dependency on alcohol are also well documented. He is however selective in what he chooses to reveal about himself and uses artistic licence to make the book more readable. He does give us an insight into his ideas, opinions and aspirations and the turmoil he must have endured before turning his life around. It is a salutary lesson in how a talented man can be destroyed for his convictions and his struggle, with support, to regain his self-respect.