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"Vesuvius seemed to be shrinking. And out of that vast black column of whirling rock and ash a roiling mass of flame emerged like a huge glowing furnace. I shut my eyes, terrified. What was it I had seen? Vulcan's forge itself? All around me I could hear screams. I opened my eyes again. A fiery cloud was hurtling down the side of the mountain. Faster and faster it sped. How loud it sounded—even to us, some miles away."

Pompeii: A Roman Girl's Diary is a historical fiction book written by Sue Reid. It is the twentieth book in the My Story series by Scholastic UK. The book was published in May 2008 and reissued in February 2015. It was followed by Valerie Wilding's Road to War.

Claudia, a young Roman girl, lives in Pompeii during AD 79, the year of the infamous eruption of Mount Vesuvius.


"For my father and mother, who first took me to Pompeii"

Book description[]

"It's August AD 78 and Claudia is at the Forum in Pompeii. It's a day of strange encounters and even odder portents.
When the ground shakes Claudia is convinced it is a bad omen. What does it all mean? And why is she so disturbed by Vesuvius, the great volcano that looms over the city...

"Mother looked bewildered, "Are we leaving Pompeii? Where will we go? Are we not safe here?"
It's August in AD 78 and Claudia is at the Forum in the great city of Pompeii. It's a day of odd encounters and even stranger signs. When the ground shakes, Claudia is convinced it is a bad omen. What does it all mean? And why is she so disturbed by Vesuvius, the great volcano that looms over the city?


In August AD 78, Claudia visits the Forum in Pompeii with her father. They watch a slave auction between a friend of Claudia's father, Vastus, and a lanista, who buys slaves to be trained as gladiators. Vastus wins the red-haired Briton, before the ground beneath Pompeii begins to rumble. Claudia and her father safely return home to the family bakery. Her father dismisses the event, but Claudia continues to worry about the earthquake.

Claudia's mother buys her a new tunic, which she wears to dinner at Vastus' house. There she sees the Briton again, while Vastus' son, Quintus, stares at her all night. Just two weeks later, the Briton boy helps Claudia home, after she injures her ankle. Claudia sees him again some weeks later at the market. They have a small tiff, but she informs him about the possible location of his sister anyway. After he returns Claudia's dog Pollux, they make amends and he reveals his name, Aengus.

Aemilia, Vastus' daughter, and her cousin, Calpurnia accidentally witness Claudia and Aengus speaking in January. Neither Aemilia or Calpurnia question her about it, though Claudia later befriends Calpurnia. After a week of not seeing Aengus, Claudia learns that he has been sold to the lanista. In May, Claudia attends a gladiator fight with Calpurnia. She briefly sees Aengus, who saves a fellow charioteer. Several days after the fight, Claudia confesses her friendship with Aengus to Calpurnia.

Calpurnia moves to Rome with her family in September. The following month, Aengus escapes from the gladiators barracks and says goodbye to Claudia, before departing. Pompeii's water supply fails a few days later, leading Claudia's father to make the decision to leave. After packing a wagon, Mount Vesuvius erupts and the citizens of Pompeii begin to panic in their haste to leave. Claudia's family find a safe shelter, after a long and arduous journey.

Historical Note[]

When Mount Vesuvius erupted in AD 79, the citizens of the nearby towns appeared to be taken completely by surprise. An earthquake happened earlier in AD 62, but people of that day had no clue of the link between earthquakes and volcanoes. The city of Pompeii was bombarded by ash and pumice, making it hard for the citizens to escape. Overnight the eruption became worse, leading to several pyroclastic surges, which caused Pompeii and Herculaneum being buried completely. There were fatalities and evacuations in other nearby towns.

Pompeii and Herculaneum were undisturbed for hundreds of years. Pompeii was rediscovered in 1592 but was not recognized as Pompeii until the eighteenth century. The city was not scientifically excavated until 1860 by Giuseppe Fiorelli. Currently, the two sites are in a fragile state due to recent earthquakes, exposure to the elements, and tourism. The historical note includes a timeline of important events for Pompeii, ranging from the 8th century BC to 1980. Eight pictures and photographs are also included in the section as well as a map of Mount Vesuvius's range.


Main article: List of Pompeii characters
  • Claudia, a freeborn Roman living in Pompeii with her parents and brothers. She worries often about the meaning of Pompeii's earthquakes, though everyone else seems to merely ignore them.
  • Aengus is a British slave owned by the rich baker, Vastus. He befriends Claudia, after a series of chance encounters. Aengus hopes to find his sister and run away from Pompeii.


Main article: Sue Reid

Sue Reid is an English children's and young adult author. She works primarily in the historical fiction genre, such as By My Side and Langdown Manor. Reid is also the author of several books in the My Story series, including Mill Girl, War Nurse, The Fall of the Blade, Give Us the Vote!, and Lady Jane Grey. Prior to writing Pompeii, Reid had visited Pompeii which left an impression on her.[3]


  • Narrator: Carol Drinkwater
  • Publisher: Scholastic UK
  • Published: December 5, 2013[7]
  • Running time: 4 hours and 9 minutes


"I would like to thank Paul Roberts, of the British Museum's department of Greek and Roman Antiquities, for his help with my research for this book."


  • The cover of the first edition of Pompeii was illustrated by Richard Jones.
  • A book in the French series Mon Histoire, Les cendres de Pompéi, is also set in Pompeii during AD 79. The tragic event is told from the point-of-view of a slave in this book.


See also[]

My Story

The Hunger | Voyage on the Great Titanic | The Crystal Palace | Blitz | My Tudor Queen | Twentieth-Century Girl
The Great Plague | The '45 Rising | Civil War | Trafalgar | The Trenches | Battle of Britain | Mill Girl | Transported
Armada | Crimea | Bloody Tower | Indian Mutiny | Zulu War | Mayflower | Agincourt | Suffragette | Waterloo | Slave Girl
Flying Ace | Anne Boleyn and Me | D-Day | Victorian Workhouse | Spy Smuggler | Desert Danger | War Nurse
U-Boat Hunter | The Queen's Spies

1st relaunch

Princess of Egypt | Pompeii | Road to War | Roman Invasion | Viking Blood | Highway Girl | Sophie's Secret War
The Storm to Come | The Sweep's Boy | The Fall of the Blade | Pyramid of Secrets | Factory Girl | Dodger!
No Way Back | Wartime Princess | London Stories | Berlin Olympics | Lady Jane Grey | Nowhere to Run

2nd relaunch

Codename Céline

3rd relaunch

Noor-un-Nissa Inayat Khan | Ignatius Sancho | Princess Sophia Duleep Singh | Mary Prince

My Royal Story

Victoria | Anastasia | Cleopatra | Marie Antoinette | Elizabeth | Mary, Queen of Scots | Henry VIII's Wives

My True Story

What If They Find Us? | Hero at Dunkirk | Standing Alone | Give Us the Vote!

External links[]