Latest from the H for History blog

Jane Austen – Reading at Home

Posted on: 18/07/2017 with tags: English History, 19th Century

Lucy Worsley’s Jane Austen at Home follows the author throughout her life’s households. Below is an extract from the book detailing the Austen family’s fondness for reading aloud in the Rectory.   Her brother Henry described Jane’s novels, with their many drafts, as ‘gradual performances’. And Pride and Prejudice was written for a more literal type of ‘performance’, too: as entertainment for the family circle. This novel – indeed, all Jane’s novels, with their extended and theatrical dialog…

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Going to the Ball with Jane Austen

Posted on: 18/07/2017 with tags: English History, 19th Century

Lucy Worsley’s Jane Austen at Home follows the author throughout her life’s households. Below is an extract from the book detailing the preparation entailed in attending a ball.   The excitement of the evening began with dressing, the moment when ‘the first Bliss of a Ball began’. As Jane would put it in The Watsons, female camaraderie was important for getting up one’s courage. This was the time when strange girls, thrown upon each other’s company by the vagaries of family friendship or sh…

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Historical fiction, ancestry and artefacts

Posted on: 07/07/2017 with tags: ancestry, archaeology, artefacts, David Gibbins, history, Testament

My most recent novel, TESTAMENT, contains five chapters of historical fiction – a prologue set at the time of the Phoenicians in the 6th century BC, two chapters set during the British Abyssinia campaign of 1868-9 and another two chapters at Bletchley Park in 1943. That emphasis on historical fiction continues the pattern of my eight previous Jack Howard novels, all present-day thrillers but with settings ranging from the earliest seafaring in the Neolithic to the Roman destruction of Jerusalem…

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Discover the audio editions of Alison Weir’s Six Tudor Queens series

Posted on: 23/06/2017 with tags: alison weir, anne boleyn, Audio, henry viii, Jane Seymour, katherine of aragon, LoveAudio, Six Tudor Queens, Tudor

It’s #LoveAudio Week this week, and we’re celebrating some of our best-loved historical authors and their audiobooks. Up today is the brilliant Alison Weir, author of the Six Tudor Queens series. Katherine of Aragon: The True Queen  Katherine of Aragon: The True Queen by bestselling historian Alison Weir, author of The Lost Tudor Princess, is the first in a spellbinding six novel series about Henry VIII’s Queens. Alison takes you on an engrossing journey at Katherine’s side and shows her extraor…

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The best historical audiobooks – Anthony Riches

Posted on: 21/06/2017 with tags: Anthony Riches, historical fiction, Roman

It’s #LoveAudio Week this week, and we’re celebrating some of our best-loved historical authors and their audiobooks. Top of the list is Anthony Riches, author of the Empire and Centurions series. Wounds of Honour (Empire I), read by Saul Reichlin: 13 hours, 32 minutes ‘A master of the genre’ The Times Marcus Aquila has scarcely landed in Britannia when he has to run for his life – condemned to dishonorable death by power-crazed emperor Commodus. The plan is to take a new name, serve in an obscu…

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Anne Boleyn on 19th May 1536 – Alison Weir

Posted on: 22/05/2017 with tags: alison weir, anne boleyn, Beheaded, Exeuction, henry viii, Six Tudor Queens, Tudor

On 19th May, 1536, Queen Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII’s second wife, was beheaded for treason, having been accused of adultery with five men, one her own brother, and with plotting the death of the King. It was probably in order to avoid a bungled decapitation, and a horrific scene on the scaffold, that the executioner of Calais, an expert swordsman, was sent for to despatch her in the continental manner. This was a much cleaner, kinder and more precise method of execution than death by the axe. The…

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Waiting for D-Day – Marianne Kavanagh on the week before Operation Neptune

Posted on: 18/05/2017 with tags: English History, historical fiction, world war II, WW2

Six days form the structure of SHOULD YOU ASK ME – six days in May 1944 just before D-Day. This is how long it takes 86-year-old Mary to tell her story to William, a young policeman recently invalided out of the army, and for William in turn to confess. With wartime resources stretched to the limit, Mary’s tale of two long-dead bodies is not considered high priority. Only William has the time to listen. Meanwhile, both inside and outside the small rural police station in Dorset, it feels as if v…

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Spy Fever: how spy lies led to the creation of the Secret Service

Posted on: 17/05/2017 with tags: author blog, conspiracy theories, crime fiction, English History, historical crime, historical fiction, 20th Century

For a historical novelist, the usual way of things is to delve into history, to look at what’s interesting or important, a setting, an event, a time period – we write into this, try to recreate, re-imagine, re-use as we see fit. But what happens when this gets turned on its head, when fiction starts turning into fact? In writing my first historical novel – The Irregular, set in 1909 – I discovered a startling example of invention becoming real, of fiction (spy fiction no less) having a very prof…

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Matilda by David Churchill

Posted on: 16/05/2017 with tags: david churchill, devil, duke, leopards of normandy, Matilda of Flanders, william the conqueror, Norman

One of my favourite aspects of the story of William the Conqueror is his relationship with his wife, Matilda of Flanders. Unlike any previous Duke of Normandy, William had one wife, who was the mother of all his children, and is not known to have had any mistresses or sired any bastards. Now, this may say less about his fidelity than the fact that he was so powerful that no chronicler dared tell any negative stories about him. But had he produced any illegitimate sons, they would have grown up t…

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THE HISTORY BEHIND THE FICTION: Anne Boleyn’s Brothers – Alison Weir

Posted on: 15/05/2017 with tags: alison weir, anne boleyn, George Boleyn, Henry Boleyn, henry viii, Six Tudor Queens, Thomas Boleyn, Tudor

It is often claimed that two of Anne Boleyn’s brothers died as infants. The cross brass of young ‘Thomas Bullayne’ in Penshurst Church, Kent, describes him as the son of Sir Thomas Boleyn, who was knighted in 1509; thus Thomas must have died after that date. Henry’s grave is marked by another cross brass adjacent to his father’s tomb in Hever Church. The fact that there were two similar cross brasses suggests that the boys may have died around the same time. There were five Boleyn siblings whose…

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