Latest from the H for History blog

Is this really Anne Boleyn – Alison Weir

Posted on: 13/02/2018 with tags: alison weir, anne boleyn, henry viii, Holbein, Six TudorQueens, Wenceslaus Hollar, Tudor

This engraving by Wenceslaus Hollar, dated 1649 (above right), is not – as has long been accepted – of the unlabelled British Museum drawing by Holbein (above, left), which is popularly identified as Anne Boleyn, and has been the subject of much academic debate. But, as I was stating on Facebook that the drawing was probably not Anne, I noticed that the engraving is clearly of a different portrait, and Hollar states beneath that Holbein drew it. No such Holbein is known. The discrepancies are ob…

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My Freaky Valentine – Romance the Victorian Way

Posted on: 12/02/2018 with tags: historical fiction, historical novel, 19th Century, Victorian

It is a truth universally acknowledged that the Victorians invented Christmas. Well; one Victorian in particular, by the name of Charles Dickens. But where did they stand on the next red letter day on the calendar, the one that pops up after boozeless, carbless, joyless January, to remind us that our hearts still beat warmly under all those jumpers? Valentine’s Day, originally the feast day of a Roman martyr, began to gain traction way before Victorian times. It became associated with courtly lo…

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An exclusive extract from By Blood Divided by James Heneage

Posted on: 24/01/2018 with tags: author blog, extract, historical fiction, historical novel, James Heneage, Medieval, medieval history, European, Medieval, Middle Ages

By Blood Divided is the new standalone novel from James Heneage, which has been collecting praise form fellow historical fiction writers at the rate Henry VIII collected wives (basically it’s getting lots). To celebrate it’s publication day, we’re treating you to this exclusive extract – enjoy! ‘A dramatic read from the very outset’ Simon Scarrow ‘A gripping, epic tale set against a broad and breath-taking European canvas. Do not miss this compelling page-turner’ Alison Weir ‘A fast-moving and s…

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Anne Boleyn – A Spring Without Roses by Alison Weir

Posted on: 04/01/2018 with tags: alison weir, anne boleyn, henry viii, King Francois I, Six Tudor Queens, Tudor

The background to The Chateau of Briis is the court of the sybaritic and notoriously licentious King François I, who epitomised all the ideals expected of, and admired in, a Renaissance monarch. Anne Boleyn spent her formative years there. François was twenty-one when he succeeded to the throne in 1515, shortly before Anne arrived at his court. He was an impressive six feet in height, and broad-shouldered with an athletic physique and slim legs, although already he was putting on weight. He was…

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The Perennial Allure of the Royal Family by Gill Paul

Posted on: 06/12/2017 with tags: Another Woman's Husband, Gill Paul, Royal family, The Windsors, Wallis SImpson, 20th Century, Modern

The public euphoria at the engagement of Prince Harry to Meghan Markle is proof, were any needed, that our fascination with the Windsor family is as strong as ever. But why should this be? Monarchs no longer have the power to order beheadings or start wars and crusades. The Queen has, at best, minimal influence on her government and every now and again the newspapers get on their high horses about how much she and her relatives cost the taxpayer. But if polls are to be believed, it’s a price mos…

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Festive Tidbits from Karen Maitland

Posted on: 05/12/2017 with tags: boxing day, christmas, Holly, karen maitland, The Plague Charmer, tidbit, Yule Log, Christmas, Medieval, Middle Ages

Feast of Fools In the Middle Ages, on the eve of the Feast of Circumcision (31 December) when the Magnificat was read out in cathedrals and abbeys – He has put down the mighty – all the junior clergy would start chanting Deposuit! (Put down!). They’d drag senior clergy from their seats and take their places, appointing a fool precentor. For the next few days the ‘humble’ ruled. On 1 January, a donkey carrying a woman and baby was led into the church. At the end of the Mass, the priest brayed thr…

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Would Bletchley Park have recruited YOU? Try our Chessboard War puzzle!

Posted on: 23/11/2017 with tags: Bletchley Park Brainteasers, Enigma, Puzzles, world war II, 20th Century, WW2

When scouring the land for top-level code breakers, the Bletchley Park recruiters left no stone unturned. As well as approaching the country’s fi nest mathematicians, they cast their nets much wider, interviewing sixth-form music students who could read orchestral scores, chess masters, poets, linguists, hieroglyphics experts and high society debutantes fresh from finishing school. To assess these individuals they devised various ingenious mind-twisters – hidden codes, cryptic crosswords, secret…

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Under a Pole Star by Stef Penney has been shortlisted for the 2017 Costa Novel Award

Posted on: 22/11/2017

We are extremely proud to announce that Stef Penney’s panoramic historical epic Under a Pole Star has been shortlisted for the 2017 Costa Novel Award! The judges (Lucy Atkins, Freya North and Wayne Winstone) have described it as “A novel of huge scope with a tremendous sense of period and place”.  Follow the path to the freezing north. Follow your ambition. Follow your heart Flora Mackie first crossed the Arctic Circle at the age of twelve. Years later, in 1892, determination and chance lead her…

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What’s a passionate man to do? Sarah Shoemaker

Posted on: 15/11/2017 with tags: Charlotte Bronte, Divorce, Jane Eyre, Mr Rochester, Nineteenth Century, Sarah Shoemaker, 19th Century

Love, marriage and divorce in the world of Jane Eyre Sometimes, seeing Mr Rochester tied down to an insane wife and loving Jane, it would seem easy to ask: Why doesn’t he just get a divorce? That may be cruel, but, indeed, what kind of marriage have they anyway? Or have they ever had after the first few months? I’m sure I must have asked that question when I first read Jane Eyre. Some history will make Rochester’s situation a little clearer: Before the latter part of the nineteenth century, marr…

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Why I Admire Admiral Saumarez

Posted on: 01/11/2017 with tags: author blog, English History, fiction, historical fiction, Julian Stockwin, Thomas Kydd, 19th Century, Napoleonic Wars

Author Julian Stockwin on a unsung hero of the Napoleonic naval war. In the course of writing the Kydd series I’ve researched many real-life naval personages,  a number of whom I’ve included in the books, part of the rich naval heritage that is the backdrop to those fascinating times. Julian Stockwin outside HMS Victory, Saumarez’s flagship during the Baltic campaign. Of course Horatio Nelson has appeared in several titles in the series, along with ‘Black Dick’ Howe, Cuthbert Collingwood, Home R…

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