Latest from the H for History blog

Plymouth: Maritime Icon by Julian Stockwin

Posted on: 16/10/2019 Age of Sail, British History, English History

I have the great good fortune to live not far from Plymouth, Devon, that lovely county in southwest England. Given that I write Age of Sail fiction and have a long-held interest in all things to do with Neptune’s Realm, I probably couldn’t have chosen a better location! My latest book To The Eastern Seas opens with a crowd of onlookers standing on Plymouth Hoe, a large cliff-top south-facing grassy open space. They are peering out to sea awaiting the arrival of the ships returning from what was…

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Take Flight with the history of aviation

Posted on: 01/10/2019

Flight is the story of humankind’s most ambitious undertaking. From thousand-year-old flying machines and the trailblazing ‘birdmen’ who risked their lives to test them, to the Wright brothers’ legendary first flight and the iconic spacecraft of the modern era, Flight weaves together the extraordinary history of aviation with an in-depth look at the mechanics of how planes work. Sumptuously illustrated and written by a former RAF technician, this is the definitive guide to how we conquered the s…

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Our Man in New York by Henry Hemming

Posted on: 18/09/2019

The gripping story of a propaganda campaign like no other: the covert British operation to manipulate American public opinion and bring the US into the Second World War. When William Stephenson – “our man in New York” – arrived in the United States towards the end of June 1940 with instructions from the head of MI6 to ‘organise’ American public opinion, Britain was on the verge of defeat. Surveys showed that just 14% of the US population wanted to go to war against Nazi Germany. But soon that be…

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Who was Susanna Horenbout?

Posted on: 17/09/2019 with tags: alison weir, Anna of Kleve, Anne of Cleeves, henry viii, Six Tudor Queens, Susanna Horenbout, Tudor

Of about two dozen female artists working in the sixteenth century, Susanna Horenbout is one of the least known. In fact, no work can be attributed to her with confidence. Nevertheless, she is accounted as the first woman painter to have worked in England. She was actually Flemish and came from an artistic family of Ghent. Her father was the artist Gerard Horenbout (or Hornebolt), court painter to Margaret of Austria, Regent of the Netherlands, and her brother was the miniaturist Lucas Horenbout…

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Andrew Williams: Was Peter Wright a wrecker or saviour for Britain’s Security Service?

Posted on: 13/09/2019 with tags: Cambridge Five, Witchfinder, 20th Century, Cold War

In my first days at the BBC, more than thirty years ago, the struggle between Her Majesty’s Government and a frail pensioner down under was at the top of the running order nearly every night. Poor old Peter Wright limping to an Australian court on a stick, the last of his white hair just visible beneath a bush hat. He was an elderly David challenging an army of lawyers. Always a genial smile for the cameras as if he was relishing a contest that was viewed in many places around the world as one o…

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5 things you didn’t know about the former Soviet Republic…

Posted on: 09/09/2019

In Autumn 1991 the fifteen republics that had together constituted the Soviet Union, also known as the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics, broke out of the union to become independent states, more or less overnight. In the course of a few months, Eastern Europe acquired six new countries: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine and Moldova. Central Asia got five new countries: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan. And three new countries emerged in the Caucasus r…

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An Unknown Painting of the Young Anne of Cleves

Posted on: 25/07/2019 with tags: alison weir, Anna of CKleve, Anne of Cleves, portraiture, Tudor

Until last week, I would have stated firmly that there were no portraits of any of Henry VIII’s wives as young teenagers. But, wandering around the Basilika of St Lambertus in Dusseldorf (the former capital of Cleves, or Kleve), I was astonished to find this painting. It’s one of two triptychs of the Rosenkrantzbruderschaft – the Rosenkranz Brotherhood, or Confraternity of the Rosary, a religious society founded in 1468, which came to have a big community in Cologne. Painted by an unknown master…

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Battling Bandoleros in the American Civil War

Posted on: 22/07/2019 with tags: Bandolero, Paul Fraser Collard, The Lost Outlaw, American Civil War

Bandoleros – it’s one of those beautifully evocative words that conjures up a hundred images all by itself. When I started planning for THE LOST OUTLAW – the eighth Jack Lark novel set in Mexico in 1863 – I knew I needed a powerful foe for Jack to face, and this time I did not have the luxury of a neatly defined enemy as I have had previously. However, it was not long before my research led me to the bandoleros who preyed on the hundreds of cotton trains making their way to Mexico from the south…

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Read the first chapter of Pirata

Posted on: 10/07/2019

It is AD 25. Pirate ships strike terror in the hearts of those who brave the seas of the Roman Empire. When Telemachus joins the crew of the merchant ship Selene, he’s glad to escape the rough streets of Piraeus. He knows little of the dangers of life at sea. Even past hardship has not prepared him for the terror on board when a pirate ship appears. The fight is bloody, but the result is never in doubt. Then the victorious pirate chief, Bulla, offers the beaten men a cruel choice: join us, or di…

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The Central Park Five: A reflection

Posted on: 04/07/2019 with tags: author blog, history, 20th Century

The case of the Central Park Five is being revisited with a new acclaimed Netflix limited series on the subject, When They See Us, directed by Ava DuVernay. About the book: This is the only book that is going to tell you all you need to know about one of the most infamous criminal cases in American history. A trial that, thirty years on, still bears a striking, and unsettling, resemblance to our current political climate in the era of President Donald Trump. In April 1989, a white woman who came…

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