Latest from the H for History blog

Writing about the Romanovs by Gill Paul

Posted on: 16/07/2018 with tags: Gill Paul, romanovs, Russia, the lost daughter, 20th Century

A hundred years ago, in the early hours of the 17th of July 1918, Russia’s last royal family were murdered in a bloodthirsty and bungled attack. Yacob Yurovsky, leader of the hit squad, and some of the other killers left testimonies describing what happened. According to them, the first shots ricocheted off jewels the four daughters had sewn into the seams of their clothing, wounding but not killing them. The air was thick with gunsmoke, the floor slippery with the blood of their mother, father…

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How does historical fact go into making fictional characters? by Kim Sherwood

Posted on: 11/07/2018

How does historical fact go into making fictional characters? Virginia Woolf writes that ‘if we think of truth as something of granite-like solidity and personality as something of rainbow-like intangibility and reflect that the aim … is to weld these two into one seamless whole, we shall admit that the problem is a stiff one’. Writing my debut novel, Testament – which is about the impact of the Holocaust on three generations of a family – I faced what Woolf calls the ‘queer amalgamation of drea…

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Alison Weir introduces Anna of Kleve

Posted on: 10/07/2018 with tags: alison weir, Anna of Kleve, Anne of Cleves, henry viii, Six Tudor Queens, six wives, Tudor

Most people think of Anna of Cleves – or Anna of Kleve, as she should be known – as the luckiest of Henry VIII’s wives. Having re-researched her story in depth for Anna of Kleve: Queens of Secrets, the fourth novel in my Six Tudor Queens series, I am not so sure that is true. Anna should have had it all: a crown, a great marriage to a powerful king, wealth, influence and popularity. But it was all snatched from her, for reasons that are still not fully clear. When, within a month of Jane Seymour…

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A Night Out in the Shanghai Badlands with Paul French

Posted on: 28/06/2018

A Night Out in the Badlands, 1941 Throughout the 1930s Shanghai had been a legendary city – an international metropolis where no visas or passports were required; the most modern city in Asia drenched in neon and its sultry summer night air filled with jazz; the fourth largest city in the world and the most densely populated; home to over four million Shanghainese and the city’s foreign inhabitants (known as “Shanghailanders”). Shanghai was a city that had always had more than its fair share of…

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Karen Maitland introduces her new novel, A Gathering of Ghosts

Posted on: 20/06/2018 Medieval, Middle Ages

‘You’ll need more than a sword to protect you up there. Other side of that priory stands the most accursed hill on the whole moor. You can hear the dead whispering among those rocks. Hungry ghosts, they are. There’s many has heard them talking, and some even followed the voices into the caves up there. Followed them in, Brothers, but never came out …’ From A Gathering of Ghosts Some images make such an impression on a child that they burrow deep into his or her imagination. And, if that child gr…

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Gunpowder, treason and plot by Tracy Borman

Posted on: 15/06/2018 with tags: English History, gunpowder plot, historical fiction, historical novel, james i, tower of london, tracy borman, witchcraft, Stuart, Tudor

Tracy Borman reveals the long process behind her move into historical fiction… The publication of my debut novel, The King’s Witch, this June marks the realisation of a long-cherished ambition.  I read historical fiction all the time and have often dreamed of penning a novel myself, then a chance meeting at Harrogate History Festival a few years ago made that a reality.  Hodder’s Nick Sayers, one of the best fiction editors in the business, happened to be there with another author and we got c…

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Anna of Kleve vs. Anne of Cleeves by Alison Weir

Posted on: 14/06/2018 with tags: alison weir, Anna of Kleve, Anne of Cleves, henry viii, Six Tudor Queens, Tudor

Why am I calling my next novel in the Six Tudor Queens series Anna of Kleve? Why not Anne of Cleves, as its subject is usually known? Firstly, I had decided at the outset that she was to be Anna, to distinguish her from Anne Boleyn and avoid confusion. For the same reason, I am using different spellings of Katherine for the three queens with that name: Katherine of Aragon, Katheryn Howard and Katharine Parr (I did suggest Kateryne Parr, as she herself spelt it, but we all felt it was too archaic…

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Read an extract of Tracy Borman’s brand new novel

Posted on: 30/05/2018 with tags: debut novel, historical fiction, historical novel, the king's witch, tracy borman, Stuart, Tudor

Already a great historian, Tracy Borman proves with this thrilling debut novel that she is also a born storyteller. As she helps to nurse the dying Queen Elizabeth, Frances Gorges longs for the fields and ancient woods of her parents’ Hampshire estate, where she has learned to use the flowers and herbs to become a much-loved healer. Frances is happy to stay in her beloved countryside when the new King arrives from Scotland, bringing change, fear and suspicion. His court may be shockingly decaden…

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Henry VIII’s Marriage to Jane Seymour by Alison Weir

Posted on: 16/05/2018 with tags: alison weir, anne boleyn, henry viii, Jane Seymour, Royal Weddings, Six Tudor Queens, six wives, Tudor

Just before dawn on 25 January 1533, a small group of people gathered in the King’s private chapel in Whitehall Palace for Henry VIII’s secret wedding to Anne. ‘It has been reported throughout a great part of the realm that I married her, which was plainly false,’ Cranmer protested, ‘for I myself knew not thereof a fortnight after it was done.’ The officiating priest was either Dr Rowland Lee, one of the royal chaplains, or George Brown, Prior of the Austin Friars in London. It is more likely to…

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The World’s Smallest Dog With The Biggest Heart

Posted on: 02/05/2018

Smoky the Brave is the extraordinary, touching and true story of a heroic dog and her adoptive masters in the jungles of the Pacific War. It’s out in hardback on 31st May and available to pre-order now: https://amzn.to/2w6yD0r   Here’s  a piece from Damien about what drew him to telling Smoky’s story…   Smoky’s story is a fascinating and gripping one, as much because the tiny little hero of a dog was such an enigma right until after the war had ended. As Churchill famously once said,…

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