Latest from the H for History blog

Could the Black Death happen again? – by S D Sykes

Posted on: 30/01/2014 with tags: Black Death, contagion, death, debut novel, disease, England, historical fiction, history, Madagaskar, plague, plague land, s d sykes

An article concerned with the Bubonic Plague in this week’s online Lancet has led others to ask – could the Black Death grip the world in another deadly pandemic – as it has done on three previous occasions? In other words should we start panicking? Stocking up on bottled water and tinned beans? Building underground shelters, armed fortresses and mass graves? The Black Death is such an emotive term, conjuring up death-by-boils, greasy black rats and peculiar men posing as doctors in sinister bea…

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A Long-Held Secret: My Clandestine work in the WAAF, by Claire Lorrimer

Posted on: 30/01/2014 with tags: Battle of Britain, Claire Lorrimer, flying, radar, second world war, secret history, secret service, WAAF, Winston Churchill

Wednesday, September 12th, 2013 – an important date for me, as the secret work in Radar that I and my fellow WAAFS carried out for five long years of the Second World War was finally being recognised. This was the day that Prince Charles opened the new Battle of Britain museum at Bentley Priory: a commemoration of the work of all those who saved the country from invasion in the early years of the war. This January the museum is for the first time open to the public, and you can find more informa…

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THE TUDOR CONSPIRACY blog tour!

Posted on: 15/01/2014 with tags: blog tour, conspiracy, CW Gortner, Elizabeth I, England, English History, mystery, poster, Tudor Conspiracy, tudors

To celebrate paperback publication of THE TUDOR CONSPIRACY this week, we are excited to share details of the author’s tour around some of the very best UK-based bloggers who love historical fiction as much as we do. You can read the first review here: bit.ly/K1ocOL THE TUDOR CONSPIRACY is the second in Christopher Gortner’s thrilling historical crime series featuring Brendan Prescott, recruited as a spy by William Cecil, protector of the Princess Elizabeth. It is a time of immense da…

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Christmas at Sea by Julian Stockwin

Posted on: 23/12/2013 with tags: caribbee, christmas, Julian Stockwin, maritime, Robert Louis Stevenson

Christmas ashore is a jolly time of fun and festivities where families and friends get together to eat and drink and exchange gifts. But having a number of salty Yuletides under my belt I know it can be a poignant time for seafarers and their loved ones.  Robert Louis Stevenson’s poem ‘Christmas at Sea’, although perhaps a little OTT in terms of Victorian sentimentality, brings home the sadness of separation at this time. Christmas at Sea The sheets were frozen hard, and they cut the naked hand;…

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A PIE TO MAKE US MERRY: in Honour of the Christmas Pie by Martine Bailey

Posted on: 20/12/2013 with tags: An Appetite for Violets, christmas, histroy, Martine Bailey, pies

My favourite symbol of Georgian Christmas abundance has to be the Christmas pie. Not to be confused with small mince pies of mostly dried fruit, this pie is a monster – a battlemented fantasy of plenty, weighing as much as 15 stone.  Stuffed with increasing sizes of game, from small birds to rabbits to geese and turkeys, it was built to feed famished crowds. And in times when Christmas could last twelve days or longer it was designed to keep, thanks to an airtight layer of butter poured in throu…

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Gaslight Fairies by Ann Featherstone

Posted on: 20/12/2013 with tags: ann featherstone, christmas, dickens, gaslight fairies, history

Charles Dickens called them ‘Gaslight Fairies’ – the little children, some as young as four, who  populated the London and provincial stages during the pantomime season. They were recruited in November each year – up to two hundred of them for the larger shows at Drury Lane – as miniature soldiers or sailors, South Sea Island flowers, insects and of course fairies, which burst from an unpromising plaster mushroom or a prickly-leaved bush into a tiny, spangled flying creature every night. Over Ch…

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A Very Medieval Christmas by S.D. Sykes

Posted on: 19/12/2013 with tags: carols, history, Medieval, plague land, sd sykes

Growing up in the 1970s, I remember a lot of fuss about the true meaning of Christmas – a reaction to the rapid commercialisation of the festival. But what is the true meaning of Christmas? Really? As I get older and become increasingly disheartened by our long and dark winters, I can easily see why our ancestors wanted to celebrate something, anything in fact, at this dismal point in the year. For those last two weeks in December are different to any others in the calendar. The sun is low and m…

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The Best Worst Christmas Gift in History by Lois Leveen

Posted on: 19/12/2013 with tags: christmas, history, lois leveen, slavery, the secrets of mary bowser

What if the best Christmas gift you ever got was also the worst thing that had ever happened to you? Historical fiction seems as if it’s only about BIG things.  War.  Politics.  Epidemics.  But what draws me into a story—as a reader and as a writer—are the emotional experiences of individuals.  Before I began writing The Secrets of Mary Bowser, a novel based on the true story of a former slave who became a Union spy during the American Civil War, I thought the Civil War was boring.  Growin…

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Christmas with the Camerons by Andrew Williams

Posted on: 18/12/2013 with tags: Andrew Williams, christmas, trenches

Hard ground, hard rations, Hard to imagine now, perhaps, that after so much suffering the soldiers of World War 1 could find c.mfort and hope and faith in the celebration of Christmas. The famous Christmas story of the trenches is of the unofficial truce kept by both sides in the first year of the war. Barbed wire was hung with decorations, carols sung, and British and German soldiers met to exchange gifts of food, spirits and tobacco.  German and British soldiers in no-man’s-land 26th December…

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Adeliza, A Christmas Carol and Mr. Dickens by Rebecca Mascull

Posted on: 16/12/2013 with tags: charles dickens, christmas carol, dickens, Rebecca Mascull, The Visitors

In The Visitors, Adeliza’s father brings her ‘a special gift, a particular book he likes’. It is A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. Liza is transported; ‘I never knew there were voices like this.’ She is amazed by the complex world of character and consequence dreamt up by Mr Dickens. ‘Only now do I understand why Father sits so long with a book in his hand. He is a time-traveller.’ I happen to share my character’s admiration for Dickens. I had read A Christmas Carol as a child and re-read it…

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