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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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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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Snooping in the name of History – Jane Housham

Posted on: 02/11/2016 with tags: author blog, English History, historical crime, historical novel, history, Jane Housham, The Apprentice of Split Crow Lane, Victorian, 20th Century, Victorian

For me no trip to Brighton is complete without a poke around Snoopers’ Paradise, the rambling antique emporium in the North Laine. I was rifling through a box of old photographs there when I noticed that some seemed to have come from the same album as they were numbered on the back in a distinctive hand. I bought all of them that I could find. The photos were just small, fairly undistinguished images, some quite blurry, but whoever they had belonged to had a wonderfully organised mind. Not only…

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The Norman Conquest in Numbers by James Aitcheson

Posted on: 14/10/2016 with tags: author blog, English History, historical crime, historical fiction, Medieval, medieval england, medieval history, The Norman Conquest, Asian History, Medieval, Norman

This month marks the 950th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings: the beginning of the Norman Conquest of England, and perhaps the single most famous event in all of British history. The battle, which took place on 14 October 1066, saw King Harold II killed and his English army defeated by Duke William of Normandy, who shortly afterwards was himself crowned king, ushering in a new French-speaking ruling dynasty and altering England’s destiny forever. 7,000 Estimated size both of Harold’s army an…

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