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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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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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9 surprising facts you never knew about the Tudors

Posted on: 10/03/2017 with tags: English History, henry viii, history, Tudor

Henry VIII kept his dead brother Arthur’s clothes in his private wardrobe, right up until his own death. Henry VIII suffered from such severe constipation that his doctors regularly administered enemas, which were made from pig’s bladders. During her nine-day reign, 16-year-old Lady Jane Grey wore high heels in an attempt to appear more ‘queenly’. Henry VIII enjoyed some unusual foods at his feasts. Kitchen accounts include swan, peacock, porpoise and even dolphin. Henry VIII was a fan of footba…

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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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