Latest from the H for History blog

Authors Rebecca Mascull and Kerry Drewery interview each other

Posted on: 19/09/2013 with tags: authors, fact, fiction, historical fiction, historical research, inspiration, interview, Rebecca Mascull, The Visitors, writing

Rebecca Mascull Kerry Drewery What are your research methods? KD: I tend to start off quite wide, just to get a feel for the place; reading novels set there, watching documentaries, etc, and as I get to know where the story is going the research will become more specific to do with time/place/event etc. With A Brighter Fear, I wanted to get a range of opinions on what was happening, so I read accounts by soldiers, people living there, journalists. I also created a ‘picture board’, with photos of…

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History in the Court, Goldsboro Books 26th September 2013

Posted on: 18/09/2013 with tags: Anthony Riches, authors, event, Goldsboro Books, historical fiction, history, History in the Court, robyn young

Next week sees the return of History in the Court at the fabulous independent bookshop Goldsboro Books in the heart of London. Held in conjunction with the Historical Writers’ Association, History in the Court is an evening dedicated to celebrating the very best of historical writing.  If you’ve never been before, don’t miss this wonderful opportunity to meet some of your favourite historical writers (our very own Robyn Young and Anthony Riches will be there), buy some first ed…

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The peasants are revolting . . . by S.D. Sykes

Posted on: 18/09/2013 with tags: Black Death, peasants revolt, plague, plague land, s d sykes, the butcher bird, Medieval

I love the patterns in history. The reflection of our own times in distant ages. The idea that the narrative never really changes, only the cast. Earlier this week a “tough stance” was announced on benefit fraud – which seems to have given rise to the usual rhetoric on phone-ins, websites and newspapers. Dependency culture, scroungers, single mothers, feral children, forty fags a day… plasma televisions. It brings to mind something I read recently while researching my second book The Butcher Bir…

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Of Biscuits and Banquets (and the Great British Bake Off)

Posted on: 17/09/2013 with tags: An Appetite for Violets, baking, banquet, Bergamot, biscuits, Earl Grey tea, Elizabeth I, food, historical fiction, historical recipes, Martine Bailey, recipes, Spice, Sugar, Sugarwork, The Great British Bake Off

Tonight it is Biscuit Week on The Great British Bake Off, with a technical challenge to bake the thinnest tuiles and create a ‘Biscuit Tower’. We usually associate the Georgian past with roast beef and steaming puddings, but in fact their biscuits were extraordinarily delicate. Macaroons, lemon wafers and ginger nuts were popular, though generally eaten with wine rather than tea. Bergamot was a high fashion flavouring, extracted from the skin of bergamot oranges. Nowadays, its spicy orange scent…

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Rebecca Mascull, author of THE VISITORS, on the inspiration behind her debut novel

Posted on: 11/09/2013 with tags: farming, historical fiction, hop farmers, hops, Kent, oast houses, Rebecca Mascull, research, The Visitors

In my novel THE VISITORS, the main character’s father is a Victorian hop farmer. He owns hop fields in Kent, where his men place hop poles in the ground, then walking on stilts they string up the coir twine between each pole. Beautiful rows of bright green hop bines. You can clearly see how the hops grow up the wires which were strung up by the farm workers, often walking on stilts. The men train the hop plants to grow clockwise around the strings and spray them with soft soap to kill pests. In…

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The Extinction of the Woolly Mammoth

Posted on: 11/09/2013 with tags: Clan of the Cave Bear, Earth's Children, Ice Age, Jean Auel, Natural History Museum, Woolly Mammoth

  Professor Adrian Lister of the Natural History Museum was talking on the radio this morning about the extinction of the Woolly Mammoth. New research published in the Proceedings of the Royal Institute indicates that the species died out over a long period and not because they were hunted to extinction, as has been previously suggested, but due to climate change. Enormous herbivores, bigger than elephants, they would have needed a huge amount of grass and foliage to eat every day, and the…

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Georgian Fig Pie recipe

Posted on: 10/09/2013 with tags: An Appetite for Violets, baking, food, great british bake off, historical recipes, Martine Bailey, Georgian

Tonight’s episode of The Great British Bake Off is all about pies and tarts. Ah, pastry. Shortcrust, puff, flaky, filo, choux – so many wonderful variations of the same essential ingredients, but also a million opportunities for error! The whole of Britain holds its breath, it seems, when Paul and Mary turn over the contestants’ tarts to judge whether or not they have a soggy bottom … We don’t know yet what mixture of pies and tarts will be on show this evening, but we do know that figs are in s…

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The 2020 Olympics, Japan 400 and Shogun

Posted on: 09/09/2013 with tags: asia, backlist, classic, historical classics, James Clavell, Japan, olympics, samurai, Shogun

It’s been a busy few days for Japan. On Saturday, Tokyo was chosen as the host city of the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, beating Istanbul in the final ballot by 60 votes to 35 (Madrid had been eliminated in an earlier round). The decision means that Tokyo is the first Asian city to host the Games twice (they were awarded host status in 1940, but that year’s Games were cancelled due to the outbreak of World War II).  Also, for those of you who listened to this morning’s Today pro…

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Marina Fiorato’s favourite historical novels

Posted on: 06/09/2013 with tags: Anya Seton, Ellis Peters, favourite historical novels, historical classics, historical crime, historical mystery, Marina Fiorato, Umberto Eco

One of our wonderful authors, Marina Fiorato, is behind today’s post. Read on to find out what her favourite historical novels are, and which books inspired her to become a writer.  Shield of Three Lions by Pamela Kaufman This is a wonderful novel featuring – in my opinion – one of the most engaging heroines in historical literature. Alix of Wanthwaite loses her estate in the north of England and goes to petition the king for their return. The only problem is that Richard I is engaged on t…

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They Dined Upon Quince (in honour of The Great British Bake Off)

Posted on: 03/09/2013 with tags: An Appetite for Violets, baking, food, great british bake off, Martine Bailey, Georgian

Today, one of our brilliant authors, Martine Bailey, reflects on historic British cooking traditions and, of course, the national obsession that is The Great British Bake Off: ‘Each week as I sit transfixed by The Great British Bake Off I marvel at the ever wilder flavour combinations. Already we’ve seen a grapefruit cake, followed by a chicken paneer and white chocolate bread combination (now that does seem a flavour too far). Culinary fashions aren’t new: long ago, bouquets of flower flavours…

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