Follow the Drum

~ A Novel by Andre Norton

follow the drum 1942

-- Being the Ventures and Misadventures of one Johanna Lovell, Sometime Lady of Catkept Manor in Kent county of Lord Baltimore’s Proprietary of Maryland, in the Gracious Reign of King Charles the Second --


Synopsis ~

Write-up from the inner flaps of the dustjacket ~

In sheer brilliance of storytelling, in dramatic incident and superb characterization, few juveniles can match this extraordinary book. The story of Johanna Lovell is an enthralling one, and the author has done a perfect job of research in order to recreate the London, Bermuda and Maryland of the seventeenth century.
Johanna Lovell and her brother Gerrit had always followed the drum on the continent; when their father died, they returned to London to claim their fortune. But the cards were stacked against them, and a bitter relative plotted their ruin so that instead of acquiring the quiet manor house they longed for in Kent, their lives took on a frightful aspect as Gerrit is sentenced to be executed on a trumped-up charge of treason to Charles ll. By taking the place of a dead fellow prisoner, Gerrit manages to be smuggled away as a bondsman and is shipped to Bermuda, and from there to Maryland. When Johanna learns this, she immediately plans to follow after him to affect his rescue and build a new life in the new world.
The account of her voyage across the Atlantic to Bermuda is an unforgettable one: storm-tossed and helpless, her ship is at the mercy of a murderous crew of half-starved men who, crazed by hunger, seek to hang one of the passengers whom they claim is a witch, responsible for their disaster. But Bermuda is reached at last and Johanna finds out that her brother has been sold to a Maryland planter. With forthright courage, Johanna then proceeds to Maryland, determined anew to build a home for herself and her brother. In Maryland new difficulties beset her; she has to cope with cruel, selfish owners; unwelcome suitors put obstacles in her chosen path, and alone, except for her two faithful servitors, one a young maid brought from London, the other an Irish bondsman bought in Bermuda, she battles the rigors of pioneering in a wild, desolate country, having always as -her goal the reunion with her brother.
But before that reunion takes place, Johanna has to undergo many misadventures; and when it happens, the reunion turns out quite differently from what she had looked for, yet, in its way, it made possible the fulfillment of Johanna’s dreams.
A powerful, surging story of a young girl’s courage in the face of discouragement and disaster, Follow the Drum will become a treasured possession of the reader.


Write-up from the back of the paperback edition ~

They followed their king into exile. And when they returned to claim their rightful inheritance, a cry of “Treason” sent them running for their lives.

Johanna and her brother, Gerrit, had waited their whole lives for a real home in England. Instead of the military camp tents they had come to know. But on their arrival in England, Gerrit was framed for treason. Only to be sold into slavery in America.

And so began Johanna’s determined odyssey to find Gerrit and to carve for him a grand home out of the Maryland wilderness where few men - and certainly no women - dare to go.

With courage, hope and the help of a mysterious Irish nobleman, himself a slave. Johanna slowly discovered that it was a husband, not a brother, for whom she yearned...


Write-ups from fans ~

After the Restoration of the English Monarchy Joanna and Gerrit Lovell return to England, from which their father had been exiled when Cromwell's Protectorate began.  Their father, Sir Ralph, had received word of an inheritance in England, from his brother Henry.  However, Sir Ralph died before he could take ship for England, and Henry's nephew (Henry Dorrell) resented the giving away of what he had regarded as his.  An encounter with unruly soldiers of the new King makes an enemy for Gerrit, and an assistant for Henry Dorrell's schemes.  Master Dorrell visits the Lovell's at the home of their lawyer and pleads for funds, which Gerrit agrees to give him, as Dorrell had long counted upon Henry Lovell's estate coming into his own hands.  However, he accepts the funds in the presence of two conspirators against the King and manages to steal the paper Gerrit had had him sign testifying that the funds were in recompense for the loss of his inheritance.  Gerrit is then arrested as a conspirator and thrown into prison to await trail--with a foregone conclusion of conviction.  Before his trial, however, Gerrit manages to transfer his half of the inheritance into Joanna's hands.  She uses it to buy a substitution of prisoners, so Gerrit is not executed.  However, the jailer tricked her and Gerrit is put among the prisoners to be transported to the Colonies and there sold into slavery.  Joanna, when she finds this out, prepares to go to the New World, using both their inheritances to set them up in style on a Maryland plantation.  Her plan is to find Gerrit and redeem him from his new "master".  In the course of her search, she comes upon another man, Neil Mohun, an Irishman who was also sold into slavery for his family's resistance to the English.  Feeling a pity for him and imagining Gerrit in his place, she buys him.  He proves to be a good worker and eventually she comes to depend upon him to help her build up and manage the estate she has purchased.  When she does find Gerrit, she discovers that their time apart, several long years, has changed them both and they no longer wish to be two parts of one whole.  Regretfully, Joanna gives her blessing to Gerrit's plans and accepts Neil Mohun as more than a helpful servant. ~ SL


Sir Ralph Lovell followed his king into exile in the Low Countries. He got married to Flemish noble's daughter and had two children, Gerrit and Johanna. They were raised in the in the military camps. Soon after King Charles regained the throne, Sir Ralph died but told them that they had a sizeable inheritance in England. They travel to England and after a misadventure meet with the lawyer who will handle their legal matters. But a cousin who wants their fortune frames Gerrit for treason and only his sister's ingenuity can save him from the hangman's noose. He escapes death but is sold as an indentured servant overseas. Johanna leaves on a daring odyssey to rescue Gerrit and carve a grand homestead out of the perilous Maryland wilderness where few men and even fewer women dare to go. Her courage, resourcefulness, and determination are tested as never before. The first leg of the journey is marked by a terrible hurricane, a spell of being becalmed and almost starving and attempted mutiny. When they reach Bermuda, Johanna buys the time of an indentured Irish rebel-convict Neil Mohun. When they reach Maryland, the only colony where women can own property in their own name, she buys a holding from a widow who wants to return to England. The property comes with three indentured men, and she pitches in with her maid, Neil and the three servants to build a manor house fit for her brother when she finds him. Life is what happens when you are making other plans. And after much hardship and danger, the manor gets built. But where is Gerrit? Will he like the new house? And what does the future hold in store for her? Read and find out. A wonderful and exciting adventure! ~ PG


Reviews ~

Kirkus Reviews ~ Issue: Sept. 1st, 1942
An excellent story opening up many new angles on the seventeenth century--exciting and well-written-for girls. Johanna Lovell had always followed the drum on the continent, but when her father died, she and her brother returned to England to claim their fortune. The cards were stacked against them, they never attained their quiet house in the English countryside, but rather, after fearful experiences found peace in Maryland in the New World. In 1661 in the most Gestapo-like manner, Gerrit, the brother, was thrown into a ghastly jail. By taking the place of a dead fellow-prisoner, he escaped to the questionable freedom of a bondsman, went to Bermuda, then Maryland. With great courage, Johanna followed him across the treacherous seas. The pictures of prison life, marauding soldiers, life at sea, slave markets, early manor life in Maryland, the cruelty of owners and much else, are exceedingly well done. Girls will realize what strength and persistence it took in those days to fight through life--present day hardships will not seem so difficult.


Bibliography of English Editions ~

  • (1942) Published by William Penn, HC, LCCN 42023640, $2.00, 312pg ~ Cover & illustrated by K. Loute {Brick Cloth Boards, # 1218 on Front Flap}
  • (1943) Published by McClelland & Stewart, HC, LCCN 42023640, $3.25, 312pg ~ Cover & illustrated by K. Loute - Canadian printing
  • (1981) Published by Fawcett, PB, 0-449-24434-2, 978-0-449-24434-0, $2.25, 224pg ~ cover by Bob Jerison

View the 1978 Fawcett contract

View the 1970 Copyright renewal app.



Open menu