A BOOK published by a Basingstoke author looks to explore the past of one of history’s greatest fakers.

Bob Clarke is a volunteer researcher at the Victoria History of Hampshire project in the area, and has written other books on the past of Basingstoke.

His new book tells the life of con artist Sarah Wilson, who lived all over England in the 18th century, posing as people to gain money and fine clothes.

Bob said: “I first met Sarah when I came across an account in an 18th century newspaper of a trick she played on a Surrey farmer.

“I later found another newspaper report about her adventures three years later in Wiltshire in 1767.

“It was clear from those reports that she was a most fascinating character who had been forgotten by history. This set me off on my search for Sarah.

“It involved searching for reports about her in British and American newspapers, examining the records of her committal and trial and discovering some letters she wrote that had lain in an American archive since 1814.”

One of her crimes caught up with her and she was sent to America, where she then invented a new life for herself as 'the Queen’s sister' and then had a series of adventures during the American War of Independence.

Bob added: “By using contemporary accounts, I’ve tried to recapture what Sarah experienced as she travelled across England and America, and what conditions were like in the prisons she stayed in and on board the convict ship.”

Impostress: The Dishonest Adventures of Sarah Wilson, is available now from The History Press and online.