Latest from the H for History blog

SD Sykes on her favourite Medieval monsters!

Posted on: 21/10/2015 with tags: butcher bird, Medieval, monsters, sd sykes, Medieval

A real treat for you today, The Butcher Bird author SD Sykes tells us about her favourite medieval monsters! My Favourite Medieval Monsters. Read ‘Plague Land’ or my latest book ‘The Butcher Bird’ and you will see that I not only confront, but also embrace the medieval obsession with monsters. The people of this age couldn’t get enough of them. The best place for monsters to inhabit, of course, is in the unknown. In those places that lie beyond the horizon. In the age before long-distance travel…

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The story of a truly fateful Frankfurt fair

Posted on: 12/10/2015 with tags: alix christie, books, frankfurt, frankfurt book fair, gutenberg, gutenberg bible, historical fiction, historical novel, printing, printing press

Alix Christie explains for us why publishers owe a special debt to Gutenberg’s apprentice – the title of her dazzling debut novel.On an October day in 1454, a book appeared in Frankfurt that amazed and terrified the merchants and the priests who first laid eyes upon it. Publishers from around the world are again making their pilgrimage to this German city, showplace of kings and kaisers, and the spot where their industry was founded five hundred and sixty-one years ago. Few, though, will k…

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The Story of Egypt

Posted on: 30/09/2015 with tags: ancient egypt, ancient history, egypt, history, museum, tutenkhamen

Joann Fletcher has written this fantastic article for us about the UK’s relationship to ancient Egypt!ANCIENT EGYPT ON OUR DOORSTEPAncient Egypt continues to fascinate the modern world, with much of this fascination based on the exotic allure of a destination far away in both time and place. And yet the UK has had a far longer relationship with the land of the Nile than is often assumed. Ever since AD 43 when the Romans made Britain their most northerly outpost balancing their southern boundary…

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Andrew Lownie: In search of Guy Burgess

Posted on: 08/09/2015 with tags: anthony blunt, cambridge, cambridge spies, espionage, Guy Burgess, hodder, kgb, mi6, spies, stalin's englishman, sying

The author of STALIN’S ENGLISHMAN Andrew Lownie has written this fantastic article on his search for Guy Burgess, the most fascinating figure of the infamous Cambridge spy ring.In search of Guy BurgessI’ve been interested in Guy Burgess since I was a child and especially , after the exposure of Sir Anthony Blunt  in 1979, each week seemed to bring some fresh revelation about a new Cambridge Spy. At Cambridge University I organised a seminar on the Cambridge Spy Ring and on graduating helped rese…

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Andrew Miller on the Inspiration for Pure

Posted on: 04/09/2015 with tags: andrew miller, fiction, historical fiction, literature, pure

A very special treat for you this Friday, as Andrew Miller’s new novel THE CROSSING has just been published, we thought it was high-time to revisit his historical novel (and winner of the Costa Book of the Year) Pure! Here is a short piece Andrew wrote on his inspiration for the novel: I first read about the destruction of the cemetery of Les Innocents some ten years or more ago. There were a couple of pages on it in Phillipe Aries’ book The Hour of Our Death, a history of Western funerary custo…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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