Latest from the H for History blog

Letters From The Suitcase – What Mary Did Next

Posted on: 02/06/2017 20th Century, WW2

Letters From The Suitcase is an enchanting, poignant and incredibly moving account of the five year early marriage between two lovers divided by war – and the legacy they left for their only child. Written by Cal and Rosheen Finnagan, this is a hugely detailed wartime correspondance between Rosheen’s parents, David and Mary Francis. Here Rosheen Finnigan tells us what happened next to her mother Mary. Shortly after my father’s death, my mother met a man who told her she was ‘made for the documen…

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An exclusive extract from By Blood Divided by James Heneage

Posted on: 01/06/2017 with tags: author blog, extract, historical fiction, historical novel, James Heneage, Medieval, medieval history, European, Medieval, Middle Ages

By Blood Divided is the new standalone novel from James Heneage, which has been collecting praise form fellow historical fiction writers at the rate Henry VIII collected wives (basically it’s getting lots). To celebrate it’s publication day, we’re treating you to this exclusive extract – enjoy! ‘A dramatic read from the very outset’ Simon Scarrow ‘A fast-moving and superbly intelligent adventure’ Jason Goodwin ‘A stirring tale of the struggle for Byzantium, Heneage brings to life both the traged…

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Anne Boleyn on 19th May 1536 – Alison Weir

Posted on: 22/05/2017 with tags: alison weir, anne boleyn, Beheaded, Exeuction, henry viii, Six Tudor Queens, Tudor

On 19th May, 1536, Queen Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII’s second wife, was beheaded for treason, having been accused of adultery with five men, one her own brother, and with plotting the death of the King. It was probably in order to avoid a bungled decapitation, and a horrific scene on the scaffold, that the executioner of Calais, an expert swordsman, was sent for to despatch her in the continental manner. This was a much cleaner, kinder and more precise method of execution than death by the axe. The…

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Waiting for D-Day – Marianne Kavanagh on the week before Operation Neptune

Posted on: 18/05/2017 with tags: English History, historical fiction, world war II, WW2

Six days form the structure of SHOULD YOU ASK ME – six days in May 1944 just before D-Day. This is how long it takes 86-year-old Mary to tell her story to William, a young policeman recently invalided out of the army, and for William in turn to confess. With wartime resources stretched to the limit, Mary’s tale of two long-dead bodies is not considered high priority. Only William has the time to listen. Meanwhile, both inside and outside the small rural police station in Dorset, it feels as if v…

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A few words from Damien Lewis on his new book, Operation Relentless

Posted on: 18/05/2017

Damien Lewis gives us an insight into his new book, Operation Relentless, publishing today.   In 2008 the world’s foremost arms-dealer to rebel and terrorist groups was sentenced in a US court to 25 years without parole. For decades fugitive Russian Viktor Bout – better known as the Merchant of Death / Lord of War – had been hunted by an alphabet soup of agencies. Why? Bout was trading arms for gems and drugs, fuelling the global nexus of narco-terrorism. But more worryingly, Bout – former Sovie…

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Spy Fever: how spy lies led to the creation of the Secret Service

Posted on: 17/05/2017 with tags: author blog, conspiracy theories, crime fiction, English History, historical crime, historical fiction, 20th Century

For a historical novelist, the usual way of things is to delve into history, to look at what’s interesting or important, a setting, an event, a time period – we write into this, try to recreate, re-imagine, re-use as we see fit. But what happens when this gets turned on its head, when fiction starts turning into fact? In writing my first historical novel – The Irregular, set in 1909 – I discovered a startling example of invention becoming real, of fiction (spy fiction no less) having a very prof…

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Matilda by David Churchill

Posted on: 16/05/2017 with tags: david churchill, devil, duke, leopards of normandy, Matilda of Flanders, william the conqueror, Norman

One of my favourite aspects of the story of William the Conqueror is his relationship with his wife, Matilda of Flanders. Unlike any previous Duke of Normandy, William had one wife, who was the mother of all his children, and is not known to have had any mistresses or sired any bastards. Now, this may say less about his fidelity than the fact that he was so powerful that no chronicler dared tell any negative stories about him. But had he produced any illegitimate sons, they would have grown up t…

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THE HISTORY BEHIND THE FICTION: Anne Boleyn’s Brothers – Alison Weir

Posted on: 15/05/2017 with tags: alison weir, anne boleyn, George Boleyn, Henry Boleyn, henry viii, Six Tudor Queens, Thomas Boleyn, Tudor

It is often claimed that two of Anne Boleyn’s brothers died as infants. The cross brass of young ‘Thomas Bullayne’ in Penshurst Church, Kent, describes him as the son of Sir Thomas Boleyn, who was knighted in 1509; thus Thomas must have died after that date. Henry’s grave is marked by another cross brass adjacent to his father’s tomb in Hever Church. The fact that there were two similar cross brasses suggests that the boys may have died around the same time. There were five Boleyn siblings whose…

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What’s a passionate man to do? Sarah Shoemaker

Posted on: 10/05/2017 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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True or False? Anne Boleyn Quiz

Posted on: 04/05/2017 with tags: alison weir, anne boleyn, henry viii, Quiz, Six Tudor Queens, six wives of henry viii, Tudor

For publication of the latest in her Six Tudor Queens series Alison Weir has put together this true or false quiz about Henry VIIIs second wife. The second captivating novel in the Six Tudor Queens series. An unforgettable portrait of the ambitious woman whose fate we know all too well, but whose true motivations may surprise you. The young woman who changed the course of history. Fresh from the palaces of Burgundy and France, Anne draws attention at the English court, embracing the play of cour…

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