Latest from the H for History blog

What’s a passionate man to do? Sarah Shoemaker

Posted on: 15/11/2017 with tags: Charlotte Bronte, Divorce, Jane Eyre, Mr Rochester, Nineteenth Century, Sarah Shoemaker, 19th Century

Love, marriage and divorce in the world of Jane Eyre Sometimes, seeing Mr Rochester tied down to an insane wife and loving Jane, it would seem easy to ask: Why doesn’t he just get a divorce? That may be cruel, but, indeed, what kind of marriage have they anyway? Or have they ever had after the first few months? I’m sure I must have asked that question when I first read Jane Eyre. Some history will make Rochester’s situation a little clearer: Before the latter part of the nineteenth century, marr…

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Why I Admire Admiral Saumarez

Posted on: 01/11/2017 with tags: author blog, English History, fiction, historical fiction, Julian Stockwin, Thomas Kydd, 19th Century, Napoleonic Wars

Author Julian Stockwin on a unsung hero of the Napoleonic naval war. In the course of writing the Kydd series I’ve researched many real-life naval personages,  a number of whom I’ve included in the books, part of the rich naval heritage that is the backdrop to those fascinating times. Julian Stockwin outside HMS Victory, Saumarez’s flagship during the Baltic campaign. Of course Horatio Nelson has appeared in several titles in the series, along with ‘Black Dick’ Howe, Cuthbert Collingwood, Home R…

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Tuesday Tidbits from Karen Maitland

Posted on: 31/10/2017 with tags: karen maitland, Medieval facts, The Plague Charmer, Tuesday Tidbits, Medieval, Middle Ages

Rouncy (rouncey or rounsey) was an all-purpose horse, used for riding and warfare. The huge destrier, capable of carrying an armed man in full armour was the most highly prized warhorse horse of the Middle Ages, but the destrier was not a good riding horse over long distances. The agile coursers were often preferred for hard battles, but only wealthy knights could afford either of these. A poorer knight or man-at-arms used a rouncy for both fighting and distance riding. None of these horses were…

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Neil Spring tells us about the lost village of Imber and real-life ghost hunter Harry Price

Posted on: 28/10/2017

In the middle of Salisbury Plain, at the bottom of a low valley, are the remains of an abandoned village. Deserted at the outbreak of the Second World War, Imber has since been used by the army to train its troops but over the years has developed a ghostly reputation. The people who lived there were told that they would one day be allowed to return but ever since Imber has remained out of bounds. It’s a long tradition that in the winter months, Imber reopens to the public and a service is held i…

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My Top Five Historical Ghost Stories

Posted on: 26/10/2017

Katherine Clements, critically acclaimed novelist (The Crimson Ribbon, The Silvered Heart), editor of Historia, member of the HWA committee and current Royal Literary Fellow at the University of Manchester, introduces her five favourite historical ghost stories. The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters After The Night Watch, which was impressive but left me a little cold, I welcomed Sarah Waters’ return to the gothic with The Little Stranger. There is no one better at bringing a fresh approach to a t…

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‘Take the Skull of a Hanged Man …’ – Karen Maitland

Posted on: 27/09/2017 with tags: karen maitland, Medieval, Skulls, the raven's head, Medieval, Middle Ages

The Medieval period was an age of contradictions and none more so than the curious attitude towards the skulls of the dead. Skulls were thought to be where the human soul or spirit resided in life, and after death the skull retained the consciousness of the deceased. This belief is so ingrained in our imagination that, even to this day, if ancient skulls are discovered in houses and removed, some people fear misfortune will follow. The skull of Theophilus Brome was reported to have screamed in f…

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Politicians then and now: How Clement Attlee shaped today’s Labour party

Posted on: 24/09/2017

John Bew, author of the Orwell Prize winning biography, tells us about Clement Attlee’s influence on the Labour Party and of how politics has changed over time. Clement Attlee is regarded as Labour’s most successful ever leader. He led the party for twenty years and presided over the most radical reforming government of the twentieth century. Many of the things he achieved in office – such as the foundation of the National Health Service or the formation of NATO – continue to define our domestic…

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13 September 1942 – the British Special Forces raid Tobrook.

Posted on: 13/09/2017

The 13th September 2017 marked the 75th anniversary of one of the most daring and audacious raids ever undertaken by British special forces in World War Two. The little-known raid on Rommel’s desert fortress at Tobruk was launched on 13 September 1942, along with a raft of simultaneous deep desert attacks, each as extraordinary as each the other. All were true ‘Mission Impossibles’. The Tobruk raid was designed to strike a knock-out blow against the German General’s main supply depot and port, t…

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CONSTANTINOPLE 1453: THE GREATEST SIEGE IN HISTORY – JAMES HENEAGE

Posted on: 18/08/2017 with tags: author blog, By Blood Divided, Constantinople, English History, historical fiction, history, James Heneage

CONSTANTINOPLE 1453: THE GREATEST SIEGE IN HISTORY – JAMES HENEAGE There have been longer sieges, there have been ones involving bigger armies and worse slaughter, but none have been so dramatic and consequential as the fall of Constantinople in 1453. The siege didn’t last very long- just 53 days- and the armies numbered perhaps 50,000 Turks and 7,000 defenders. But it while it lasted, the whole world held its breath. And when it was over, the world had changed forever. Why was it so important?…

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Gill Paul’s 6 Favourite Historical Fiction Novels

Posted on: 17/08/2017 with tags: andrew miller, Another Woman's Husband, Barbara Kingsolver, Dinah Jefferies, Favourite Novels, Gill Paul, historical fiction, Paula McLain, Rose Tremain, Sebastian Faulks, 20th Century

Gill Paul’s Another Woman’s Husband is available now in ebook and from 2nd November in paperback. Here she reveals her six favourite historical fiction novels: The Poisonwood Bible, by Barbara Kingsolver, is one of my all-time favourite novels. Set in the Belgian Congo in 1959, it is narrated by the wife and four daughters of a Baptist missionary who goes there to convert the locals. Each of the five voices is distinct and compelling, and the story has comic moments at the start but gradually da…

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