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A Soul Cake for All Hallows’ Eve

Posted on: 31/10/2013 with tags: All Hallows' Eve, An Appetite for Violets, food, Food Historian, Food History, halloween, historical fiction, history, Martine Bailey, Soul Cakes

It is the end of October, the fields are bare, the leaves have been blown from the trees, and the nights are growing longer. The darkness is coming. At this time of year we celebrate the end of summer and the cycle of death and rebirth. From as far back as anyone can remember, on one special night we gather together to share food and drink, play tricks and games. It is a time to connect with our ancestors, and honor the dead. In my home county of Cheshire this gathering has long had a unique nam…

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A French Jumble (in honour of Episode 9 of The Great British Bake Off)

Posted on: 15/10/2013 with tags: An Appetite for Violets, cookery, debut novel, eighteenth century, food, French food, historical fiction, Hogarth, Martine Bailey, The Great British Bake Off

What greater challenge could the contestants on The Great British Bake Off face than this week’s tasks, which all focus on super-fiddly French food? After all, French food is the pinnacle of gastronomy, oui? Not to the Eighteenth-century traveller, it wasn’t. ‘For my own part, I hate French cookery,‘ wrote Smollett in his bestselling Travels through France and Italy ‘and abominate garlick, with which all their ragouts, in this part of the country, are highly seasoned.’ Even the Gentleman’s…

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Historical Novelist Julian Stockwin on the inspiration behind his Thomas Kydd series

Posted on: 11/10/2013 with tags: bbc radio 4, bookclub, Bring up the Bodies, Hilary Mantel, historical fiction, historical novels, inspiration, interview, Julian Stockwin, Thomas Kydd

On a recent episode of BBC Radio 4’s Bookclub, Hilary Mantel spoke about the inspiration behind her latest novel Bring up the Bodies: a paw print on a brick dating back to the 1530s.  We thought we would ask one of our best-loved historical novelists, Julian Stockwin, whether he had ever been struck by an object in a similar way, or whether seeing a historical artefact had immediately compelled him to pick up his pen and start writing. This is what he told us: ‘In writing the Thomas…

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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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