Latest from the H for History blog

Anthony Riches walked Hadrian’s Wall!

Posted on: 09/10/2013 with tags: Anthony Riches, Empire, Hadrian's Wall, Roman Britain, roman empire, walk

Back in April, one of our authors Anthony Riches and two of his friends and fellow writers Ben Kane and Russ Whitfield walked the length of Hadrian’s Wall for charity in full Roman kit!  Though Tony kept us all updated via his blog, we thought it would be fun to bring all his posts together, which we have done for you here:  1. WALL WALK DAY 1 Firstly a huge apology to the people who turned up to Waterstones in Carlisle expecting to see three authors, including myself, at 1400 today. Our t…

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Oats and Wheat (in honour of Episode 8 of The Great British Bake Off)

Posted on: 08/10/2013 with tags: An Appetite for Violets, Biddy Leigh, Boswell, charles dickens, coeliac disease, Dr Johnson, georgian england, Gluten Free, Margaret Thatcher, Martine Bailey, Oats, Oliver Twist, Proverbs, The Great British Bake Off, Wheat

Bread With Pleasure This week the Great British Bake Off contestants have to create gluten-free bakes. So was there such a thing as a gluten-free diet in Georgian times? Well, no and yes. No, because the essential link between disorders such as coeliac disease and the gluten in wheat was not made until the 1940s, when a Dutch doctor noticed an improvement in his patient’s health during a wheat famine. But yes, there was a widespread wheat-free diet that much of the British population ate – namel…

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MURDER AS A FINE ART: David Morrell, the Ratcliffe Highway Murders and the Manchester Literature Festival

Posted on: 07/10/2013 with tags: 1854, addiction, crime fiction, David Morrell, drugs, Edgar Allan Poe, Freud, historical crime, historical fiction, historical thriller, Jack the Ripper, laudanum, London, Mulholland, opium, private detective, psychoanalysis, Ratcliffe Highway Murders, Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Thomas de Quincey, true crime

International thriller writer David Morrell, best known for his novel First Blood on which the Rambo films were based, is in the UK this week to attend the Manchester Literature Festival on Wednesday evening where he will speak about his latest book, MURDER AS A FINE ART. (You can find out more, and book tickets here.) Set in Victorian London and expertly blending fact with fiction, MURDER AS A FINE ART is a harrowing exhumation of the infamous Ratcliffe Highway murders, a series of mass killing…

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I Love Thee Like Pudding (in honour of Episode 7 of The Great British Bake Off)

Posted on: 01/10/2013 with tags: An Appetite for Violets, Biddy Leigh, food, Food History, georgian england, Martine Bailey, plum pudding, pudding, recipes, The Great British Bake Off

Nostalgia and puddings go together so perfectly – like hot pudding and custard you could say. The highlight of my school dinners had to be the steamed puddings – chocolate, syrup or a lovely pink one with jam and coconut. The Georgians also delighted in a huge variety of hot puddings. One surprise is that their famed roast beef and plum pudding were sometimes cooked and served together, the pudding absorbing the gravy from the roast, just as we might cook a Yorkshire pudding beneath a beef joint…

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Of Tea Loaves, Toast and Tea (and The Great British Bake Off)

Posted on: 24/09/2013 with tags: afternoon tea, An Appetite for Violets, bread, cake, food, historical recipes, Martine Bailey, recipes, tea, tea loaf, The Great British Bake Off

Yes, it’s that time of the week again (hooray!) and on tonight’s episode of The Great British Bake Off, the contestants will be asked to make tea loaves. The East India Company started importing tea to Britain in the 17th century, but it wasn’t until the early 19th century that tea consumption really took off. It was allegedly Anna, the 7th Duchess of Bedford, who started the fashion of afternoon tea with a light snack in order to avoid what she called ‘that sinking feeli…

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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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