Broadcaster Simon Mayo has written a novel set in Dartmoor Prison 200 years ago, when it held thousands of American prisoners of war.

Many of them were British-born and some had sailed with Nelson but they happened to be on the wrong side when Britain and the newly independent USA went back to war, between 1812 and 1815, over territorial disputes in Canada and elsewhere.

A Guardian review of Mayo’s book, Mad Blood Stirring, said: “Mayo’s book is vividly imagined, but much is drawn directly from the record. It is true that the 1,000 black American sailors held in Dartmoor’s Block 4 staged productions of Shakespeare during their incarceration, including Romeo and Juliet. It is also true that, when the peace signed in 1815 did not lead to the prisoners’ immediate release, the hostility between rival gangs exploded into violent bloodshed.”

Mad Blood Stirring is published by Doubleday,with a recommended retail price of £12.99.

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