YATE genealogist Pearl Foster officially launched her first ever book at a special event in Chipping Sodbury.

Pearl's work, Jews in Georgian Society - the Laras of London, focuses on one particular branch of her own family, who escaped the barbarities of the Portuguese inquisition and fled to England in the 1700s.

The new author signed copies of the book and discussed some of the text's themes at the launch, which took place in the Old Grammar School rooms last month.

"The book is the culmination of my lifelong interest in genealogy," said Pearl. 

“I’ve always had an interest in family history. Ever since I was a child and my grandmother told us about the family legend, our ancestor, Henrico de Lara. She had a photograph taken from an etching of Henrico, which fascinated me."

Pearl started researching her family history in 1960s, but only began to target the Laras of the 1700s nine years ago. 

A retired teacher and registrar, she followed her family's historical trail through visits to the British Library, Somerset House in London, which used to hold public records such as wills and birth certificates, and a research trip to Portugal.

"I’ve never written before, research is my thing," she said.

But Pearl felt compelled to share what she had learnt about the extraordinary lives of the Laras.

When the publishers she approached found the topic too niche, Pearl decided to self-publish the book, with Silverwood Books of Bristol.

Copies are now available via silverwoodbooks.co.uk