My Reading – October 2018

The Watchers. A Secret History of the Reign of Elizabeth I by Stephen Alford The Spanish ambassador came to St. James's Palace in Westminster on 9 November 1558, a Wednesday, in time for dinner. The Lady of the Tower by Elizabeth St John Her slap shocked me, for until now she dared not strike where … Continue reading My Reading – October 2018

Some Family History

I have ancestors from Ireland, England, Scotland and Canada, most of whom had arrived in Australia by the 1850s, with only a couple of Jenny/Johnny-come-latelys in the late 1860s. I have been obsessively researching them for ten years now after inheriting my parents' papers in the early 2000s. My father attempted to research his forbears … Continue reading Some Family History

‘It is an action like a stratagem in war where man can err but once’ – Choosing a spouse in 16th century England

During the 16th century, as in the centuries both before and after, marriage was a state that most aspired to - it gave both men and women status not only as full adults but, in the case of men, that of householder. Without marriage, women had few opportunities to independently support themselves. Except for those … Continue reading ‘It is an action like a stratagem in war where man can err but once’ – Choosing a spouse in 16th century England

My Reading – September 2018

The Beaufort Bride by Judith Arnopp It is a wild night. Outside the trees are blackened by rain. Blood and Beauty by Sarah Dunant Dawn is a pale bruise rising in the night sky when, from inside the palace, a window is flung open and a face appears, its features distorted by the firelight thrown … Continue reading My Reading – September 2018

Book Review – The Beaufort Bride by Judith Arnopp

Lady Margaret Beaufort, an heiress of the house of Lancaster, was the mother of Henry VII, the first Tudor king of England. She is now generally seen in the popular imagination as an austere scheming woman, politically ruthless and a religious fanatic. Margaret was the daughter and sole heiress of John Beaufort, 1st Duke of Somerset. … Continue reading Book Review – The Beaufort Bride by Judith Arnopp

In My Garden – Birds (Native and Otherwise)

I live near the middle of a city covering an area of nearly 10,000 km2  of suburban sprawl, asphalt roads and footpaths - in the tatty northern suburbs of Melbourne, 200 metres from Bell Street, a major traffic sewer. Yet despite the concrete, asphalt  and spindly street trees, nature still makes her presence felt. You … Continue reading In My Garden – Birds (Native and Otherwise)

Book Review – The Trick to Time by Kit de Waal

The Trick to Time is a poignant story of love and loss. Mona, an Irishwoman nearing 60, lives in a coastal town in England where she makes dolls for a living that she sells in her shop and online. The dolls' bodies are of wood, beautifully carved and finished by an almost reclusive carpenter who … Continue reading Book Review – The Trick to Time by Kit de Waal

Book Review – The Last Temptation by Nikos Kazantzakis

The publication in 1955 of The Last Temptation by Nikos Kazantzakis led to a campaign by Greek Orthodox clergy to have Kazantzakis excommunicated as they considered the work blasphemous. It was published in English in 1960, the same year that the book was placed on the Catholic Church’s Index Librorum Prohibitorum (dismantled in 1966 following … Continue reading Book Review – The Last Temptation by Nikos Kazantzakis

Early Modern Children

We are fortunate that a number of portraits survive of children from the upper levels of society in the late Elizabethan and early Jacobean period. These give us a glimpse of childhood in that period and hint at the ways childhood, the raising of children, and even life itself differ from today. Infants were swaddled … Continue reading Early Modern Children