Latest from the H for History blog

Censorship in the Age of Hypocrisy

Posted on: 19/11/2015 with tags: Elieen Horne, Emile Zola, Zola and the Victorians, Victorian

Zola and the Victorians: Censorship in the Age of Hypocrisy This is an untold story of an altruistic opportunist – a colourful footnote in British history about an adventurer who loved literature and made his living from it. Henry Vizetelly (1820-1894) was a writer and publisher who rightly appreciated the great French novelist and social reformer Émile Zola as the French Tolstoy, and knew, in terms of his sales potential in Britain, that Zola was also a French Dickens, that most popular of Vict…

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Adele Parks reveals the real-life inspiration behind her novel If You Go Away

Posted on: 19/11/2015 with tags: adele parks, author, first world war, historical novel, if you go away, inspiration, novelist

People are always interested in knowing where novelists get their ideas; I think the most honest answer is everywhere and anywhere. When I started to write If You Go Away, I had a very clear idea as to who my heroine Vivian was (a strong-willed, sexually curious yet naïve debutante, who was basically born before her time and going to get into trouble for it); however, initially I was less certain about my hero Howard. I had quickly realised that writing a conscientious objector was layered and c…

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Karen Maitland interviewed by SD Sykes

Posted on: 12/11/2015 with tags: company of liars, interview, karen maitland, plagueland, q & a, sd sykes, the butcher bird, the raven's head, the vanishing witch, Medieval

We asked H for History authors SD Sykes and Karen Maitland to interview each other – find out what drew them both to the medieval period, why it continues to fascinate and how it has inspired their writing… Here are Karen’s answers to SD’s questions…   SDS: You write with such energy, truth and feeling about the Middle Ages. What is it specifically that drew you to these times? Have you ever considered writing contemporary novels, or novels set in a different time period? KM: Thank you! Wha…

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Women in Ancient Rome

Posted on: 21/10/2015 with tags: deadly election, flavia alba, lindsay davis, Rome, Roman

Deadly Election author Lindsey Davis has written this fantastic article for us about her research on women in ancient Rome. Enjoy! Happy Family Businesses I’ve been researching the Romans for almost thirty years now. I’ve become used to standard descriptions that say women had no legal identity, with the follow-up devised by elite Roman writers and crusty Victorian professors, all men, that Roman women were supposedly kept out of sight with no social role. In fact this is not true. When I starte…

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SD Sykes on her favourite Medieval monsters!

Posted on: 21/10/2015 with tags: butcher bird, Medieval, monsters, sd sykes, Medieval

A real treat for you today, The Butcher Bird author SD Sykes tells us about her favourite medieval monsters! My Favourite Medieval Monsters. Read ‘Plague Land’ or my latest book ‘The Butcher Bird’ and you will see that I not only confront, but also embrace the medieval obsession with monsters. The people of this age couldn’t get enough of them. The best place for monsters to inhabit, of course, is in the unknown. In those places that lie beyond the horizon. In the age before long-distance travel…

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The story of a truly fateful Frankfurt fair

Posted on: 12/10/2015 with tags: alix christie, books, frankfurt, frankfurt book fair, gutenberg, gutenberg bible, historical fiction, historical novel, printing, printing press

Alix Christie explains for us why publishers owe a special debt to Gutenberg’s apprentice – the title of her dazzling debut novel.On an October day in 1454, a book appeared in Frankfurt that amazed and terrified the merchants and the priests who first laid eyes upon it. Publishers from around the world are again making their pilgrimage to this German city, showplace of kings and kaisers, and the spot where their industry was founded five hundred and sixty-one years ago. Few, though, will k…

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The Story of Egypt

Posted on: 30/09/2015 with tags: ancient egypt, ancient history, egypt, history, museum, tutenkhamen

Joann Fletcher has written this fantastic article for us about the UK’s relationship to ancient Egypt!ANCIENT EGYPT ON OUR DOORSTEPAncient Egypt continues to fascinate the modern world, with much of this fascination based on the exotic allure of a destination far away in both time and place. And yet the UK has had a far longer relationship with the land of the Nile than is often assumed. Ever since AD 43 when the Romans made Britain their most northerly outpost balancing their southern boundary…

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Andrew Lownie: In search of Guy Burgess

Posted on: 08/09/2015 with tags: anthony blunt, cambridge, cambridge spies, espionage, Guy Burgess, hodder, kgb, mi6, spies, stalin's englishman, sying

The author of STALIN’S ENGLISHMAN Andrew Lownie has written this fantastic article on his search for Guy Burgess, the most fascinating figure of the infamous Cambridge spy ring.In search of Guy BurgessI’ve been interested in Guy Burgess since I was a child and especially , after the exposure of Sir Anthony Blunt  in 1979, each week seemed to bring some fresh revelation about a new Cambridge Spy. At Cambridge University I organised a seminar on the Cambridge Spy Ring and on graduating helped rese…

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Andrew Miller on the Inspiration for Pure

Posted on: 04/09/2015 with tags: andrew miller, fiction, historical fiction, literature, pure

A very special treat for you this Friday, as Andrew Miller’s new novel THE CROSSING has just been published, we thought it was high-time to revisit his historical novel (and winner of the Costa Book of the Year) Pure! Here is a short piece Andrew wrote on his inspiration for the novel: I first read about the destruction of the cemetery of Les Innocents some ten years or more ago. There were a couple of pages on it in Phillipe Aries’ book The Hour of Our Death, a history of Western funerary custo…

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Frank McDonough: 9 Things I discovered about the Gestapo

Posted on: 24/08/2015 20th Century, WW2

9 Things I discovered about the Gestapo By Frank McDonoughThe research for my new book: The Gestapo: The Myth and Reality of Hitler’s Secret police took many years in the Gestapo archives in the German cities of Düsseldorf and Duisburg. It is here that the largest collection of 73,000 files are located.  There were many surprising findings, but I’ve selected nine.1. The Gestapo was a much smaller organisation than I imagined. There were never more than 16,000 Gestapo officers policing a populati…

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