Latest from the H for History blog

Goblin Gold by Karen Maitland

Posted on: 05/09/2018 with tags: Gathering of Ghosts, Goblin Gold, karen maitland, Medieval, Middle Ages

In A Gathering of Ghosts, pilgrims visiting the holy well beneath the priory see the rock walls of the cave shimmering with gold. I’m sure that some readers will think that is a detail I simply invented, but this is a case where fact is as strange and amazing as fiction. For centuries, people on Dartmoor walking past caves, ancient stone huts or even old rabbit holes would glimpse something shining like gold inside. But, when they reached in to grab it, they found themselves clutching only a han…

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Listen to Norman Eisen’s THE LAST PALACE – read by Jeff Goldblum

Posted on: 04/09/2018 with tags: audio extract, Jeff Goldblum, Last Palace, Norman Eisen, 20th Century

Jeff Goldblum narrates the audio book of Norman Eisen’s THE LAST PALACE – a masterfully told narrative that illuminates a hundred years of European history, as seen through an extraordinary mansion – and the lives of the people who called it home. And you can listen to an extract here. When Norman Eisen moved into the US ambassador’s residence in Prague, returning to the land his mother had fled after the Holocaust, he was startled to discover swastikas hidden beneath the furniture. From that di…

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A Gathering of Ghosts – Tuesday Tidbits

Posted on: 04/09/2018 with tags: Gathering of Ghosts, karen maitland, Tuesday Tidbits, Medieval

For her new novel, A GATHERING OF GHOSTS, Karen Maitland picks out some special Tuesday Tidbits relating to Dartmoor where the novel is based: Long-cripple Long-cripple is the Devonshire dialect word for a snake, usually an adder. It can also mean a dragonfly, lizard or slowworm (blindworm), all once believed to be venomous. Some leech wells or healing wells were given the name long-cripple, either because they cured snakebites or because they cured the same ailments as adder skins were thought…

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The Death of Hitler

Posted on: 28/08/2018

A dramatic and revelatory new account of the final days in Hitler’s bunker, based on new access to previously unseen Soviet archives and cutting-edge forensics. On 30 April 1945, Hitler committed suicide in his bunker as the Red Army closed in on Berlin. Within four days the Soviets had recovered his body. But the truth about what the Russian secret services found was hidden from history when, three months later, Stalin officially declared to Churchill and Truman that Hitler was still alive and…

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Who was Queen Victoria? – Lucy Worsley

Posted on: 28/08/2018 with tags: author blog, Lucy Worsley, Queen Victoria, Victorian, Video, 19th Century

Who was Queen Victoria? Some of the most memorable images of Victoria show her as a little old lady, potato-like in appearance, dressed in everlasting black. We also know Victoria as a passionate, young princess who loved dancing. And there is a third Victoria – a woman who was also a remarkably successful queen, one who invented a new role for the monarchy. She found a way of being a respected sovereign in an age when people were deeply uncomfortable with having a woman on the throne. Discover…

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Celebrating female translators for #WITMonth

Posted on: 22/08/2018

Today is the publication of the brand new riverrun Editions series – three classic books released with their best ever translations. And it turns out that many of the books we now know as modern classics were translated by women. Female translators were so important to the literary modernism, as it was a career that was open to women, so often barred from academic roles. It was also flexible, so suited women with children. We’ve been delving into the lives of the extraordinary women who translat…

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H.B. Lyle: Fiction to fact to fiction – finding nuggets in the archive

Posted on: 21/08/2018 with tags: author blog, crime fiction, espionage, historical crime, historical fiction, Sherlock Holmes, 20th Century, British History, English History, European

It’s perhaps the most dreaded question in the author Q&A: where do you get your ideas from? Setting aside Arthur Miller’s famous response (‘I wish I knew, I’d go there more often’) this is perhaps an easier question for the historical novelist to answer than those working in other genres. For inspiration, we only have to look into the history books. And this is so often the way of things – authors find out versions of what happened then transmute and change and reimagine then in the form of…

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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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