Latest from the H for History blog

Anthony Riches on why we’re all fascinated by Ancient Rome

Posted on: 07/03/2017 with tags: Anthony Riches, author blog, history, Rome, Roman

Rome is that rare thing from a writing perspective – an apparent sure-fire winner when it comes to making books sell. There are others – the Tudors stand out given recent successes – but Rome just seems to keep on giving. For whatever reason – TV series, gladiators, Gladiator (see what I did there?) we seem to be collectively hooked on Rome, and yet, with a burgeoning population of writers ploughing this fertile soil, we mostly seem to be stuck in the ‘sweet spot’ in historical terms, of the per…

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Read an extract from Karen Maitland’s THE VANISHING WITCH

Posted on: 06/03/2017 with tags: extract, historical fiction, historical novel, karen maitland, Poppet, the vanishing witch, Witch, Medieval, Middle Ages

Using the rake to scrape back the soiled straw down to the beaten-earth floor below, Adam threw the sodden tunic into the hole, then heaped the straw back over it. He’d only just finished when Leonia slipped back inside and brought out a folded tunic from under her skirts. He held out his hands for it, but she shook her head. ‘Let me look at your back first.’ ‘No!’ ‘Don’t be silly, I know you’ve been whipped. Marks are all round your sides. I only want to see if they’ve stopped bleeding. If they…

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The True Queen by Alison Weir

Posted on: 02/02/2017 with tags: alison weir, anne boleyn, author blog, canon law, henry viii, historical fiction, historical novel, katherine of aragon, the tudors, Tudor

For publication of her novel, KATHERINE OF ARAGON: THE TRUE QUEEN, in paperback Alison Weir looks at whether Katherine of Aragon was the true queen of England.    Was Katherine of Aragon right to make her stand against Henry VIII when he demanded an annulment on the grounds that their marriage was incestuous and unlawful because she had been his brother’s wife? Was she his true wife and Queen, as she insisted to her last breath? Henry based his case on the Book of Leviticus, which warned of…

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Writing Fiction Based on Fact by Anna Mazzola and Sarah Day

Posted on: 30/01/2017 with tags: Anna Mazzola, mussolini's island, sarah day, The Unseeing

Sarah Day and Anna Mazzola have both written historical novels based on real events. Anna’s debut novel, The Unseeing, is based on the life of a real woman convicted of aiding a murder in London in 1837. Sarah’s debut, Mussolini’s Island, is based on the arrest and imprisonment of a group of Sicilian gay men during the Fascist era. Here they give some pointers on how to go about writing a novel based on a true story. Know what you’re letting yourself in for. Anna: I think the first thing to say…

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How Did Henry VIII become a monster? by Alison Weir

Posted on: 23/01/2017 with tags: alison weir, anne boleyn, author blog, henry viii, historical fiction, historical novel, katherine of aragon, Six Tudor Queens, six wives, tudors, Tudor

Alison Weir, author of KATHERINE OF ARAGON: THE TRUE QUEEN, the first in her Six Tudor Queens series looks at a common misconception about Henry VIII…   I would like to correct a misconception about Henry VIII. It is often claimed that he suddenly changed character, for the worse, in 1536, after a blow to the head sustained in a fall. On 24 January that year, during a joust at Greenwich, he was indeed thrown from his horse. Rodolfo Pio, the Papal Nuncio in Paris, reported on 12 February t…

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Lucrezia Borgia: Fiend or Scapegoat? – C.W. Gortner

Posted on: 12/01/2017 with tags: borgia, c w gortner, lucrezia borgia, the borgias, the vatican princess, Renaissance

Centuries after their spectacular rise and fall, the Borgias continue to enthrall historians, film-makers, and novelists alike. They are perhaps the most famous, if misunderstood, family in history—their grisly deeds and glamorous personalities giving rise to a myth which can be traced to the lack of information we have about what went on behind their closed doors. Of the Borgias, Lucrezia’s plunge into a maelstrom of political intrigue in 15th century Rome has arguably made her the most controv…

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Diving Into History – David Gibbins

Posted on: 03/01/2017 with tags: Archeology, Cornwall, David Gibbins, Diving, Jack Howard, Poldark, Testament, World History

DIVING INTO HISTORY Since writing my last blog for this site, my life and that of my fictional protagonist Jack Howard have become even more intertwined, and the inspiration for my stories has become even more closely drawn from my real-life experiences. In my novels – the latest, Testament, is the ninth in the series – Jack is an archaeologist working for the International Maritime University, a fictional institute set in his ancestral estate in Cornwall at the south-western tip of England. For…

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Christmas with the Wives of Henry VIII by Alison Weir

Posted on: 05/12/2016 with tags: alison weir, anne boleyn, christmas, English History, henry viii, katherine of aragon, Six Tudor Queens, six wives, tudors, Tudor

Christmas in Tudor England is always described as a season of great feasting and revelry, but, then as now, it was a time when sadness was more poignant. That was sometimes the reality of the festive season for the hapless wives of Henry VIII. Henry’s first wife, Katherine of Aragon, came to England in 1501 to marry his older brother Arthur. She had been married little more than a month when she spent her first Christmas in England, and it was not observed in the traditional way, for the young c…

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The Conqueror’s Christmas by David Churchill

Posted on: 01/12/2016 with tags: Charlemagne, christmas, david churchill, devil, duke, william the conqueror, Medieval

Two great empire builders were crowned on Christmas Day. The first, in the year 800, was Charlemagne. He liked to claim that it had happened by accident. He’d popped into St Peter’s Basilica in Rome for Christmas Mass, knelt down at the altar to pray and the next thing he knew, Pope Leo II was placing the crown of the Roman Empire on his head and calling him Emperor. It seems less than entirely credible that one of the greatest rulers in all European history could have received his mightiest tit…

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H for History’s Jo Liddiard reviews The Apprentice of Split Crow Lane by Jane Housham

Posted on: 29/11/2016 with tags: Book review, historical crime, The Apprentice of Split Crow Lane, true crime, Victorian, Victorian England, Victorian

At the start of The Apprentice of Split Crow Lane Jane Housham explains that ‘recounting a true story as it unfurled means you have to take it as it comes.’ She explains that it might not have a neat and tidy ending that you might expect, and that the story won’t unfold in the way a novel would – and she’s right but her engrossing book does not suffer because of this. I would always say – if asked to choose – that I would pick fiction over non-fiction because I need that narrative drive which yo…

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