Latest from the H for History blog

Even the Cake was in Tiers (in honour of Episode 10 – the Finale – of The Great British Bake Off

Posted on: 22/10/2013 with tags: An Appetite for Violets, baking, food, history, Hoefnagel, Martine Bailey, The Great British Bake Off, tiered cake, Wedding, Wedding cake

It’s the grand finale of The Great British Bake Off this week, and what could be more fitting than to bake a tiered wedding cake? No bakery item is so laden with superstition, folklore and potential difficulty. Attempting to follow the crumb trail back through history, we discover bride cakes pictured in about 1570 in Hoefnagel’s A Wedding Fete at Bermondsey. Hoefnagel’s A Wedding Fete at Bermondsey showing bride cakes. Looking like gigantic trays slung around the necks of young men parading jus…

read more…

Historic Heston: a Radio 4 Book of the Week

Posted on: 21/10/2013 with tags: An Appetite for Violets, bbc radio 4, Book of hte Week, food, Food Historian, Heston Blumenthal, Historic Heston, history, Martine Bailey, The Great British Bake Off

While we’re waiting for the finale of this year’s series of The Great British Bake Off and Martine Bailey’s post to accompany it tomorrow, we’ve been catching up on last week’s Book of the Week on BBC Radio 4.  If you haven’t listened to it yet, we highly recommend that you do, but hurry, for there are only a few hours left to listen to Episode 1 here. In Historic Heston, world-renowned chef Heston Blumenthal charts the best of British cooking from the mediaeval to…

read more…

The King’s Deception – the new Cotton Malone adventure from Steve Berry

Posted on: 18/10/2013 with tags: conspiracy, Cotton Malone, Elizabeth I, mystery, secret, Steve Berry, The King's Deception, thriller

Look what arrived today! Stunning paperback copies of the latest Cotton Malone adventure by the internationally bestselling author Steve Berry. In THE KING’S DECEPTION, Cotton Malone travels to London and finds himself caught up in a conspiracy born in the time of the Tudors. As Malone races to uncover the secret, his search takes him from the Middle Temple to the chapel at Windsor Castle, and from an Oxford college to the sewers beneath Hampton Court.  Don’t miss this pulse-pounding…

read more…

THE YEAR AFTER by Martin Davies on the BBC Radio 2 Arts Show!

Posted on: 15/10/2013 with tags: backlist, BBC Radio 2, Bookseller Choice, first world war, Martin Davies, The Arts Show, The Year After

On last week’s episode of The Arts Show on BBC Radio 2, independent bookseller Samantha Buckley was asked to talk about two new releases and also pick one favourite book to talk about. How delighted were we when we heard that Samantha chose the wonderful THE YEAR AFTER by our very own Martin Davies!  THE YEAR AFTER is set in 1919 in an England still reeling from the loss and devastation of the First World War. Samantha mentioned that all of Martin’s historical novels are beautifully…

read more…

A French Jumble (in honour of Episode 9 of The Great British Bake Off)

Posted on: 15/10/2013 with tags: An Appetite for Violets, cookery, debut novel, eighteenth century, food, French food, historical fiction, Hogarth, Martine Bailey, The Great British Bake Off

What greater challenge could the contestants on The Great British Bake Off face than this week’s tasks, which all focus on super-fiddly French food? After all, French food is the pinnacle of gastronomy, oui? Not to the Eighteenth-century traveller, it wasn’t. ‘For my own part, I hate French cookery,‘ wrote Smollett in his bestselling Travels through France and Italy ‘and abominate garlick, with which all their ragouts, in this part of the country, are highly seasoned.’ Even the Gentleman’s…

read more…

Historical Novelist Julian Stockwin on the inspiration behind his Thomas Kydd series

Posted on: 11/10/2013 with tags: bbc radio 4, bookclub, Bring up the Bodies, Hilary Mantel, historical fiction, historical novels, inspiration, interview, Julian Stockwin, Thomas Kydd

On a recent episode of BBC Radio 4’s Bookclub, Hilary Mantel spoke about the inspiration behind her latest novel Bring up the Bodies: a paw print on a brick dating back to the 1530s.  We thought we would ask one of our best-loved historical novelists, Julian Stockwin, whether he had ever been struck by an object in a similar way, or whether seeing a historical artefact had immediately compelled him to pick up his pen and start writing. This is what he told us: ‘In writing the Thomas…

read more…

Anthony Riches walked Hadrian’s Wall!

Posted on: 09/10/2013 with tags: Anthony Riches, Empire, Hadrian's Wall, Roman Britain, roman empire, walk

Back in April, one of our authors Anthony Riches and two of his friends and fellow writers Ben Kane and Russ Whitfield walked the length of Hadrian’s Wall for charity in full Roman kit!  Though Tony kept us all updated via his blog, we thought it would be fun to bring all his posts together, which we have done for you here:  1. WALL WALK DAY 1 Firstly a huge apology to the people who turned up to Waterstones in Carlisle expecting to see three authors, including myself, at 1400 today. Our t…

read more…

Oats and Wheat (in honour of Episode 8 of The Great British Bake Off)

Posted on: 08/10/2013 with tags: An Appetite for Violets, Biddy Leigh, Boswell, charles dickens, coeliac disease, Dr Johnson, georgian england, Gluten Free, Margaret Thatcher, Martine Bailey, Oats, Oliver Twist, Proverbs, The Great British Bake Off, Wheat

Bread With Pleasure This week the Great British Bake Off contestants have to create gluten-free bakes. So was there such a thing as a gluten-free diet in Georgian times? Well, no and yes. No, because the essential link between disorders such as coeliac disease and the gluten in wheat was not made until the 1940s, when a Dutch doctor noticed an improvement in his patient’s health during a wheat famine. But yes, there was a widespread wheat-free diet that much of the British population ate – namel…

read more…

MURDER AS A FINE ART: David Morrell, the Ratcliffe Highway Murders and the Manchester Literature Festival

Posted on: 07/10/2013 with tags: 1854, addiction, crime fiction, David Morrell, drugs, Edgar Allan Poe, Freud, historical crime, historical fiction, historical thriller, Jack the Ripper, laudanum, London, Mulholland, opium, private detective, psychoanalysis, Ratcliffe Highway Murders, Sherlock Holmes, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Thomas de Quincey, true crime

International thriller writer David Morrell, best known for his novel First Blood on which the Rambo films were based, is in the UK this week to attend the Manchester Literature Festival on Wednesday evening where he will speak about his latest book, MURDER AS A FINE ART. (You can find out more, and book tickets here.) Set in Victorian London and expertly blending fact with fiction, MURDER AS A FINE ART is a harrowing exhumation of the infamous Ratcliffe Highway murders, a series of mass killing…

read more…

I Love Thee Like Pudding (in honour of Episode 7 of The Great British Bake Off)

Posted on: 01/10/2013 with tags: An Appetite for Violets, Biddy Leigh, food, Food History, georgian england, Martine Bailey, plum pudding, pudding, recipes, The Great British Bake Off

Nostalgia and puddings go together so perfectly – like hot pudding and custard you could say. The highlight of my school dinners had to be the steamed puddings – chocolate, syrup or a lovely pink one with jam and coconut. The Georgians also delighted in a huge variety of hot puddings. One surprise is that their famed roast beef and plum pudding were sometimes cooked and served together, the pudding absorbing the gravy from the roast, just as we might cook a Yorkshire pudding beneath a beef joint…

read more…