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Going to the Ball with Jane Austen

Posted on: 18/07/2017 with tags: English History, 19th Century

Lucy Worsley’s Jane Austen at Home follows the author throughout her life’s households. Below is an extract from the book detailing the preparation entailed in attending a ball.   The excitement of the evening began with dressing, the moment when ‘the first Bliss of a Ball began’. As Jane would put it in The Watsons, female camaraderie was important for getting up one’s courage. This was the time when strange girls, thrown upon each other’s company by the vagaries of family friendship or sh…

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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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