Latest from the H for History blog

Frank McDonough: 9 Things I discovered about the Gestapo

Posted on: 24/08/2015 20th Century, WW2

9 Things I discovered about the Gestapo By Frank McDonoughThe research for my new book: The Gestapo: The Myth and Reality of Hitler’s Secret police took many years in the Gestapo archives in the German cities of Düsseldorf and Duisburg. It is here that the largest collection of 73,000 files are located.  There were many surprising findings, but I’ve selected nine.1. The Gestapo was a much smaller organisation than I imagined. There were never more than 16,000 Gestapo officers policing a populati…

read more…

Langley Abbey

Posted on: 18/08/2015 with tags: company of liars, dangerous art of alchemy, h for history, historical fiction, karen maitland, langley abbey, leiston abbey, Medieval, the raven's head

Karen Maitland talks about Langley Abbey, a key location in her latest book, THE RAVEN’S HEAD Cellarium, Langley Abbey. Photographer: Ashley Dace‘A tall, gaunt man steps from behind one of the pillars into the glow of the furnace.’There are some people who appear friendly, even charming, like the neighbour spraying his roses who cheerily calls ‘good morning’. But behind the chintz curtains he is adding that deadly pesticide to his wife’s tea, as he did for his three previous wives whose bones no…

read more…

Karen Maitland reveals the medieval recipe for turning iron into silver…

Posted on: 11/08/2015 with tags: alchemy, company of liars, dangerous art of alchemy, eshort, hforhistory, iron to silver, karen maitland, the raven's head

A Recipe for Changing Iron into SilverTake as many fresh toads as you can find that are carrying poison. Gather white hellebore* and asphodels**. Pound the toads and herbs together and mix with vinegar and sublimated white sulphur. Drop iron into this mixture and you shall have silver.*White hellebore is a highly toxic herb that was used in the Middle Ages as rodent poison.**Asphodel is a Mediterranean plant known the Flower-of-the-Dead. It bears a candle-like spike of white flowers and was freq…

read more…

Richard Blake’s 5 favourite Roman Emeperors

Posted on: 14/07/2015 with tags: augustus, didius julianes, emperors, heliogabalus, history, Richard Blake, roman emperor, roman empire, tiberius, top 5

Richard Blake, author of The Death of Rome series gives us his TOP 5 Roman Emperors. 5. Tiberius (14AD-37AD) – Low taxes, but keep out of his bad books or his swimming pool4. Didius Julianus (193AD) – Paid hard cash for the Purple. Reign too short to hurt anyone.3. Julian the Apostate (360AD-363AD) – Not intolerant, not a tyrant.2. Heliogabalus (218AD-222AD)  – Too busy having sex to do too much harm to his subjects1. Augustus (27BC-14AD) – Shame he was born. Shame he ever had to die.You can buy…

read more…

Historian and detective: ‘There’s always more to discover.’ Saul David on exploring the History of the Entebbe Hostage Crisis.

Posted on: 08/07/2015 with tags: history, history book, hostage crisis, operation thunderbolt, raid, saul david

‘What are you working on?’ a friend asked in 2013.            ‘A history of the Entebbe Raid,’ I replied.            ‘Hasn’t that been done to death?’            Well no, actually. It’s true that the miraculous rescue of 100 hostages by Israeli commandos in July 1976 was a huge international news story. Within months the mission had inspired three hastily written books – all by journalists – and three feature films, including Victory at Entebbe starring Anthony Hopkins, Burt Lancaster and Elizab…

read more…

Nick Brown on Agent of Rome

Posted on: 04/06/2015 with tags: agent of rome, historical fiction, Nick Brown, Rome

From one word to one hundred thousand: Nick Brown on writing an ‘Agent of Rome’ novelIt’s scary. Less scary than it used to be – but still scary. No matter how many times you do it, writing a book is always a big, intimidating task.At some point (certainly no less than ten months before the publisher’s deadline) I get to work. As the series has been going for a while now, I usually have a rough idea of how the story will unfold. My first port of call is a messy Word document entitled ‘plots’, an…

read more…

Antonia Hodgson: Cock-fighting and Animal Cruelty

Posted on: 01/06/2015 with tags: antonia hodgson, devil in the marshalsea, historical crime, history, the last confession of thomas hawkins

Cock-fighting and Animal Cruelty by Antonia Hodgson, author of THE LAST CONFESSION OF THOMAS HAWKINS and THE DEVIL IN THE MARSHALSEAReading fiction is an act of empathy. As we step into another world – whether it’s set in the past, present or some distant future – we disappear into other lives. We meet characters we might avoid or not even notice in real life, and as we turn the pages, we begin to care about them. We put ourselves in their place, question their choices, worry for their safety.So…

read more…

The Wicked Lady Gets A Facelift

Posted on: 19/05/2015 with tags: highwaywomen, historicalfiction, thecrimsonribbon valencehouse

by Katherine Clements, author of THE SILVERED HEARTBack in 2013, I visited Valence House Museum in Dagenham. This local museum is a gem and well worth a trip but I was on a mission to view the only surviving portrait of Lady Katherine Ferrers, the subject of my novel in progress and, allegedly, the notorious seventeenth-century highwaywoman known as ‘The Wicked Lady’. The portrait is part of the Fanshawe collection and came to Valence House in 2004 as part of a bequest. When I first encountered…

read more…

SD Sykes: Crime and Plague

Posted on: 12/05/2015 with tags: historical crime, historical fiction, plague, plague land, plagueland, sd sykes, Medieval

SD Sykes on Crime and PlagueMurder in a time of death.You might wonder why I chose to set my debut novel Plague Land, a story of murder, against the backdrop of a plague. And not just an ordinary plague… the Black Death, the worst demographic disaster the world has ever seen. A plague that’s estimated to have killed roughly half the people in Europe. Would a murder have mattered at this time? With so many dead already, would anybody have cared about yet another death?To be honest, at the height…

read more…

Fact vs. Fiction – by Anthony Riches

Posted on: 09/04/2015 with tags: historicalfiction, romanhistory

I’ve always believed pretty firmly that the best historical fiction is a careful blend of fact and the author’simagination, but the word careful isn’t thrown into that statement lightly. Before any would be writer can hope to do themselves justice in the eyes of their intended readership they must first become master of the period they hope to use the backdrop for their story telling abilities. Many readers are drawn to the genre because of their pre-existing interest in the period d…

read more…