Latest from the H for History blog

Researching the Nipigon River by Sarah Maine

Posted on: 19/04/2017 with tags: 19th Century, Canada, Nipigon river, research, Scotland, 19th Century

I have two prints on my wall. One is a hand-coloured wood engraving by T. Weber dated 1890 Vue Prise sur la Rivière Nipigon  which shows the lower reaches of  a mighty river flowing past pine-clad cliffs and down to the north shore of Lake Superior in Canada. The other is a black and white photograph of one of the islands in these lower reaches and is dated 1893 – spot on for the year in which Charles Ballantyre, a wealthy Scottish landowner brings his party to fish on the Nipigon. The photograp…

read more…

West Country Links to the Medieval Plagues by Karen Maitland

Posted on: 06/04/2017 with tags: Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, karen maitland, Somerset, the plague, The Plague Charmer, West Country, Medieval, Middle Ages

Karen Maitland explores medieval plague links in the West Country – the setting of her latest novel, The Plague Charmer.   DORSET Melcombe (now part of Weymouth) – Dorset Several medieval chroniclers claimed that this town is where the plague first entered Britain in 1348 via two ships from the Channel Islands or Calais. This town is said to be the first in England to be infected. (I wrote a scene of this event in Company of Liars). Others chroniclers claim it was a ship from Bristol which…

read more…

The Plague of Men by Karen Maitland

Posted on: 04/04/2017 with tags: company of liars, England, karen maitland, Pestilence, plague, The Plague Charmer, Middle Ages, Plague

My new medieval thriller, The Plague Charmer, is set in 1361 and if you’d been unfortunate enough to be living in England that year, you would probably have believed the world was coming to an end because that was the year the Black Death struck again, only thirteen years after it had first ravaged England. In the minds of medieval people, omens of impending disaster had been building steadily. The weather was unusually hot and dry causing a terrible drought so that food crops failed, as well as…

read more…

The Evolution of a Soldier

Posted on: 23/03/2017 with tags: Crimea, East India Company, Jack Lark, Paul Fraser Collard, series guide, Soldier, Victorian

The Evolution of a Soldier Paul Fraser Collard on developing a series character over time If you have read any of the Jack Lark books then it should not come as much of a surprise to read that I thoroughly love writing these novels. There is something rather wonderful in being able to control the events in a story over a period of time, and I cannot tell you how much I enjoy plotting Jack’s path. By writing a series, I am able to take him on a long, often perilous, journey and I am able to explo…

read more…

An extract from Louise Brown’s The Himalayan Summer

Posted on: 13/03/2017 with tags: Culcutta, Eden Garden, extract, Great Eastern Hotel, Himalayan Summer, louise brown, Modern

Ellie had heard Francis’s story a dozen times during the previous month, and the tale changed slightly each time he told it. She knew some of it was true because she’d been there to witness it. Three months ago, at the start of the hot season, they had been in Calcutta, where Francis was busy ordering guns and having hunting clothes made. Then he went to the Sundarbans to bag a Royal Bengal tiger or two, and left Ellie and the twins in a suite in the Great Eastern Hotel, with only Nanny Barker f…

read more…

9 surprising facts you never knew about the Tudors

Posted on: 10/03/2017 with tags: English History, henry viii, history, Tudor

Henry VIII kept his dead brother Arthur’s clothes in his private wardrobe, right up until his own death. Henry VIII suffered from such severe constipation that his doctors regularly administered enemas, which were made from pig’s bladders. During her nine-day reign, 16-year-old Lady Jane Grey wore high heels in an attempt to appear more ‘queenly’. Henry VIII enjoyed some unusual foods at his feasts. Kitchen accounts include swan, peacock, porpoise and even dolphin. Henry VIII was a fan of footba…

read more…

The Story Behind THE BLACKENED HEART – Alison Weir

Posted on: 09/03/2017 with tags: alison weir, anne boleyn, author blog, henry viii, historical fiction, katherine of aragon, Tudor

Rumours that Henry VIII’s first wife, Katherine of Aragon, was poisoned, current after her death in 1536, have always intrigued me, and when it came to writing my novel, Katherine of Aragon: The True Queen, I looked at the evidence afresh in the hope that I could use it as the basis for a storyline. At Katherine’s autopsy, a black growth was found on her heart. Modern medical science suggests that this was a cancerous tumour, but that was not suggested at the time. Instead, talk of poison persis…

read more…

Anthony Riches on why we’re all fascinated by Ancient Rome

Posted on: 07/03/2017 with tags: Anthony Riches, author blog, history, Rome, Roman

Rome is that rare thing from a writing perspective – an apparent sure-fire winner when it comes to making books sell. There are others – the Tudors stand out given recent successes – but Rome just seems to keep on giving. For whatever reason – TV series, gladiators, Gladiator (see what I did there?) we seem to be collectively hooked on Rome, and yet, with a burgeoning population of writers ploughing this fertile soil, we mostly seem to be stuck in the ‘sweet spot’ in historical terms, of the per…

read more…

Read an extract from Karen Maitland’s THE VANISHING WITCH

Posted on: 06/03/2017 with tags: extract, historical fiction, historical novel, karen maitland, Poppet, the vanishing witch, Witch, Medieval, Middle Ages

Using the rake to scrape back the soiled straw down to the beaten-earth floor below, Adam threw the sodden tunic into the hole, then heaped the straw back over it. He’d only just finished when Leonia slipped back inside and brought out a folded tunic from under her skirts. He held out his hands for it, but she shook her head. ‘Let me look at your back first.’ ‘No!’ ‘Don’t be silly, I know you’ve been whipped. Marks are all round your sides. I only want to see if they’ve stopped bleeding. If they…

read more…

The True Queen by Alison Weir

Posted on: 02/02/2017 with tags: alison weir, anne boleyn, author blog, canon law, henry viii, historical fiction, historical novel, katherine of aragon, the tudors, Tudor

For publication of her novel, KATHERINE OF ARAGON: THE TRUE QUEEN, in paperback Alison Weir looks at whether Katherine of Aragon was the true queen of England.    Was Katherine of Aragon right to make her stand against Henry VIII when he demanded an annulment on the grounds that their marriage was incestuous and unlawful because she had been his brother’s wife? Was she his true wife and Queen, as she insisted to her last breath? Henry based his case on the Book of Leviticus, which warned of…

read more…