The Big Read: The Diamond Of Drury Lane by Julia Golding

Home learning focus

Using the book The Diamond Of Drury Lane you will learn how to summarise and share information about a character.

This lesson includes:

  • two videos of actor Joanna Lumley reading extracts from the book

  • three activities


The Diamond Of Drury Lane

Set in 18th-century London, an orphan girl called Cat Royal lives in the Theatre Royal, having been found there as a baby by the owner, Mr Sheridan.

In the first extract, Cat is secretly listening to a conversation between Mr Sheridan and his colleague Marchmont. In the second extract, Cat has been discovered listening to that conversation.

Watch actor Joanna Lumley read an extract from The Diamond Of Drury Lane. Think about the following:

  • How do you know that Cat is not supposed to be there?

  • How does the tension increase?

Joanna Lumley reads an extract from 'The Diamond of Drury Lane'.

Now watch Joanna read another extract from The Diamond Of Drury Lane and think about the following:

  • How is dialogue used in this extract?

  • What do we discover about Cat’s personality from this extract?

  • Why do you think the diamond is so important?

Joanna Lumley reads a further extract from 'The Diamond of Drury Lane'.


You may need paper and a pen or pencil for some of these activities.

Extract 1

‘Anyone there?’ challenged Mr Sheridan, moving towards the sound.

A gentleman stepped out of the night behind his back. He was much taller and slighter than the stocky Mr Sheridan, swathed in a black cloak and had a three-cornered hat pulled low on his brow, giving him a most villainous appearance. I shrank behind the door curtain, keeping out of sight but within call in case Mr Sheridan should need help.

‘Sherry, my old friend, of course it’s me. Why, were you expecting someone else?’ the man replied. His thin, high- pitched voice would have sent a shiver down my spine if I hadn’t already been trembling in the bitter wind blowing through the open door. I hid further in the folds of the door curtain, trying not to sneeze as my nose rubbed against the musty material.

Mr Sheridan ignored his question. He shifted uneasily, looking about him into the shadows.

‘Do you have the diamond?’ he asked, speaking so low I could barely hear him.

I swallowed my expression of surprise. No wonder he'd sent Caleb away! He did not want anyone to hear this. This was evidently a conversation on which I should not be eavesdropping - that of course made it all the more tempting to listen.

‘The Diamond of Drury Lane’ by Julia Golding tells the story of an orphan, Cat, racing to be the first to discover a secret treasure in 18th century London. Published by Egmont.

Activity 1

  1. Return to the beginning of extract 1 and summarise what is happening in the text.

  2. Try to write eight different phrases or clauses to summarise the plot.

  3. Challenge yourself by using a maximum of six words for each phrase or clause.

  4. You can choose where in this extract to pause and write a summary.

Here are a few examples to start you off:

  • Who’s there?

  • Follow that sound!

  • stocky shocked Sheridan

Extract 2

‘Nothing!’ I lied.

'I don’t believe you! Why were you hiding there? Who’s paid you to follow me, eh? Tell me quickly or you’ll find yourself at the bottom of the Thames with only the fish to spy on.'

He twisted my ear, causing me to yelp in pain a second time.

Mr Sheridan took a step forward and grabbed Marchmont’s wrist, making him release his grip.

‘Don’t frighten the child, Marchmont. It’s only my little Cat. No one’s paid her to spy on us.’

He turned to me, his eyes sparkling with anger at my presumption.

‘What are you doing here, Cat? What did you hear? Everything, I’ll be bound.’

I nodded miserably, eyes trained on the shiny caps of his shoes. ‘Sorry, sir. I just followed you when we got backstage.’

‘And?’ he said threateningly.

‘And I stayed to see who you were meeting.’


‘And I heard you talking about the diamond.’

I looked up to see if I could read my fate in his face. Surely he wouldn’t throw me out on to the streets after all these years?

‘But I promise not to tell anyone, sir,’ I ended lamely.

Activity 2

  1. Read or watch both extracts again.

Mr Sheridan behaves differently towards Marchmont and Cat. He treats each character differently and speaks to them differently.

  1. Use the extracts to record how Mr Sheridan treats and speaks to each character.

Use the text to support your answer as much as you can.

You could track the differences in a table.

How Mr Sheridan speaks to and behaves towards MarchmontHow Mr Sheridan speaks to and behaves towards Cat

Activity 3

  1. Read both extracts again.

  2. Answer the question below.

Is Cat very brave or very silly?

Write a short paragraph in response to the question.

Top tip!

You might want to jot down some ideas and evidence whilst reading the extracts.

You may have evidence for both sides and you can combine them together in your response.

The table may help you to plan your paragraph.

Evidence of Cat being very braveEvidence of Cat being very silly

Use these sentence starters to help you write your paragraph:

  • On one hand...

  • However...

  • Whereas...

  • We could also consider...

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