Latest from the H for History blog

Living in the Past by Robyn Young

Posted on: 06/08/2018 with tags: author blog, court of wolves, historical fiction, historical novel, new world rising, robyn young, European, Renaissance, World History

It’s a summer’s morning and I’m standing in a field with a gun in my hands – a flintlock musket from the English Civil War, long and heavy, the stock hunched into my shoulder, barrel aimed down the field. I struggle to pull back the hammer, needing two fingers to do so.  It’s stiff and I’m nervous.  The pan is loaded with gunpowder and the flint is now poised above it.  I pull the trigger.  The flint snaps down, striking the powder to life with a flash, sending a rush of fire and force down the…

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The Scarlet Ladies by Paul Fraser Collard

Posted on: 26/07/2018 with tags: Frances Clayton, historical fiction, Jack Lark, Paul Fraser Collard, The Rebel Killer, American Civil War

I blame the Monocled Mutineer for my love of impostors. The story of Percy Toplis first caught my attention when it became the basis for the TV series of the same name that was shown in the 1980s. I still remember watching it and being fascinated by the idea of someone taking advantage of the world simply by putting on a fancy uniform and speaking with the right accent. Young Percy, a rogue with little education and a strong northern accent, successfully impersonated British army officers during…

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The Best Historical Fiction Set on Islands by Anna Mazzola

Posted on: 23/07/2018 with tags: Anna Mazzola, historical fiction, Islands, the Story Keeper, 19th Century

  Islands, with their closed communities, their remoteness, their uniqueness, have a special place in an author’s heart. Sometimes they become not just settings, but characters in themselves. I chose Skye for my second novel, partly because I wanted somewhere cut off (as it once was), and somewhere with its own folklore, its own beliefs. Others have gone a step further and created fictional islands: Atlantis, Azkaban, Atuan, Fraxos, Hedeby, Svalvard. Once I’d started thinking about books se…

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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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