Latest from the H for History blog

Jo Liddiard reviews A Death at Fountains Abbey

Posted on: 18/08/2016 with tags: A death at fountains abbey, antonia hodgson, Book review, historical crime, historical fiction, The Devil in the Marshalsea, Georgian

I’ve been a huge fan of Antonia’s since I was spellbound by THE DEVIL IN THE MARSHALSEA, and so to see Thomas Hawkins and his various associates back for a third time is a real treat for me. Not least because this novel sees them transported away from the grimy, crime-riddled streets, gambling dens and chop houses of London to supposedly more gentile Yorkshire and Studley Hall and Fountains Abbey. What this book, as with THE DEVIL IN THE MARSHALSEA and THE LAST CONFESSION OF THOMAS HAWKINS, does…

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Ten Cunning Methods of Poisoning by Karen Maitland

Posted on: 17/08/2016 with tags: author blog piece, karen maitland, poison, Wicked Children, Medieval, Tudor

The obvious method of poisoning someone was to add the toxin to the victim’s food or drink, but it was not always possible, especially when the rich and powerful employed food tasters and the poisoner might not have access to the kitchens or if he did, would immediately be suspected. So the successful poisoners of history had to come up more ingenious ways to get the poison into their victims. Killing Ointment – This was made from arsenic, vitriol, baby’s fat, bat’s blood and hemlock and was int…

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Antonia Hodgson on Street-Level History

Posted on: 15/08/2016 with tags: antonia hodgson, author blog, fiction, historical crime, historical fiction, Georgian

I write about the early Georgians. Someone has to. I confess I stole that punchline from Bill Bryson. But it’s true – it’s a neglected period. Hardly any-one writes fiction set in the early to mid 1700s. Is it the wigs? The Whigs? (Now that’s my kind of joke – historically accurate, and not very funny.) Historical fiction tends to draw on the great stories of wars and monarchs. Henry VIII’s life has moved beyond history to the point of myth – and like all great myths, can be told over and over w…

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The Ten Best Modern Novels Set in the Nineteenth Century by Anna Mazzola

Posted on: 13/07/2016 Victorian

This is hard. There are many incredible novels set in the nineteenth century and I have read large numbers of them as ‘research’ for my own novels (i.e. as a means of putting off writing my own novels). I am not including within this list books that were actually written in the nineteenth century, as that would make my task impossible. Forgive me for what I have had to leave out. I anticipate years of angry letters from Patrick O’Brian fans. 1. Nights at the Circus, Angela Carter, 1984 Just sque…

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Seeking the soul of a city: Robyn Young on Florence

Posted on: 08/07/2016 with tags: robyn young, Sons of the Blood, War of the Roses, Tudor

Robyn Young takes us on a research trip through the streets of Florence. The air is sultry and swarming with insects, the sky simmering with storm, as I step off the plane in Florence’s Peretola Airport, formerly known as Amerigo Vespucci after one of the city’s famous sons – the merchant voyager whose name was given to the newly discovered Americas in 1507. I’m on a research trip for Court of Wolves, the second novel in my New World Rising series. Much of the action will take place here in Flor…

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‘What Hastings had heralded, the Harrying confirmed. The Normans were here to stay’ James Aitcheson on The Harrowing

Posted on: 07/07/2016 with tags: Battle of Hastings, English History, historical fiction, historical novel, history, James Aitcheson, Medieval, medieval history, Norman Conquest, The Harrying of the North, The Middle Ages, Medieval, Norman

This year marks the 950th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings, one of the best known events in British history. On 14 October 1066, English and Norman armies clashed at the site now occupied by Battle Abbey in East Sussex, in a fierce struggle for the English crown that ended in the death of the incumbent king, Harold Godwineson, and in victory for the invader, William of Normandy. Most people today, if asked what was the most significant event of the Norman Conquest, would probably name Hasti…

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The Harrying of the North by James Aitcheson

Posted on: 06/07/2016 with tags: Battle of Hastings, historical fiction, medieval history, Middle Ages, Norman Conquest, The Harrying of the North, william the conqueror, Medieval, Norman

Ask most people what was the defining event of the Norman Conquest and they’ll probably name the Battle of Hastings, when William the Conqueror defeated and killed his rival Harold Godwineson en route to seizing the English crown in 1066. However, it was the cruel coda to Hastings that has arguably done most to define modern perceptions of the Normans and their impact on England. Over the winter of 1069-70, William the Conqueror’s armies laid waste Yorkshire and the north-east of England in a ru…

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H for History launches!

Posted on: 04/07/2016 with tags: Team blog

We’re delighted to be launching the brand new H for History website! Here you’ll find everything you need to make a trip into the past. To give you a taste of what’s to come, here’s some highlights still to hit 2016 from the H for History team. It’s been such a treat to read some fantastic historical novels so far this year from Janet Ellis’ The Butcher’s Hook to Katherine Clements’ The Silvered Heart. I also really enjoyed working on the first in Alison Weir’s Six Tudor Queen series, Katherine…

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A day in the life of a history editor

Posted on: 28/06/2016 with tags: editor blog, Maddy Price

Non-fiction editor Maddy Price takes us through a day in the life of a history editor!‘I feel very lucky to have a job as an editor of, among other things, history books. Books I’ve worked on include The Bletchley Girls by Tessa Dunlop, The Private Lives of the Tudors by Tracy Borman and I’m working on a forthcoming biography of Jane Austen by Lucy Worsley. It’s a dream come true for someone who loved history at school, and chose to do English literature at university. Now I’m combining my passi…

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Spot the deception: Guy Burgess true or false

Posted on: 28/06/2016 with tags: andrew lownie, cambridge spies, Cambridge spy, espionage, stalin's englishman, 20th Century

Put your detective skills to the test. Can you work out which 2 of these incredible facts about Guy Burgess are the hidden lies? Let us know in the comments below! 1/ Guy Burgess played in the Eton football 1st XI . 2/ His stepfather was an intelligence officer working with Lawrence of Arabia during the First World War. 3/ Guy Burgess’s sexual partners included three other Cambridge spies – Donald Maclean, Anthony Blunt and Michael Straight. 4/ Victor, later Lord Rothschild, was charged with man…

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