‘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

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

A Glimpse of Elizabethan Norwich

I am currently revising my next novel, The Bridled Tongue, which is set partly in Norwich. Although Norwich suffered extensive bombing during World War II, there are numerous areas where Norwich's history is still plain. In 2016 I visited Norwich and so was able to glimpse the streets and sights that would have been familiar … Continue reading A Glimpse of Elizabethan Norwich

One Minute Book Review – Girolamo Savonarola: The Renaissance Preacher by Samantha Morris

Girolamo Savonarola was a 15th century Dominican friar. For most people today, he is known either for his striking portrait by Baccio della Porta (Fra Bartolomeo) or for his association with the Bonfires of the Vanities in Florence where Savonarola’s supporters publicly burnt thousands of objects considered to be distractions from religious duties and possible … Continue reading One Minute Book Review – Girolamo Savonarola: The Renaissance Preacher by Samantha Morris

‘The great daunger of childbyrth’

While not an absolute rarity, portraits of pregnant women were not common in the Renaissance period. Surprisingly, there are  a number of late Elizabethan and early Jacobean portraits of women at an advanced stage of pregnancy, sometimes surrounded by their children, sometimes alone. Many of these were painted by Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger. When I … Continue reading ‘The great daunger of childbyrth’

One Minute Book Review – Shakespeare’s Restless World by Neil MacGregor

In 2012 Neil MacGregor, then Director of the British Museum, gave a series of fifteen-minute talks on Radio 4 called Shakespeare's Restless World which took twenty objects from the late Elizabethan/early Jacobean period and examined them in detail, setting them not only in their historical setting, but also in that of Shakespeare’s plays. This book, … Continue reading One Minute Book Review – Shakespeare’s Restless World by Neil MacGregor

One Minute Book Review – The Lodger Shakespeare: His Life on Silver Street by Charles Nicholl

In 1612 William Shakespeare gave evidence in a case at the Court of Requests brought by Stephen Belott against the tire-maker, Christopher Mountjoy who was his father-in-law and with whom he had served an apprenticeship. Belott was suing Mountjoy for failure to pay in full the dowry promised when Belott had married Mountjoy's daughter Mary … Continue reading One Minute Book Review – The Lodger Shakespeare: His Life on Silver Street by Charles Nicholl

Sir Philip Sidney – The Death and Burial of a Most Noble and Valorous Knight

Even in his own lifetime, Sir Philip Sidney was seen a peerless knight. Born in 1554,  he was the  eldest son of Sir Henry Sidney and Lady Mary Dudley, sister of Elizabeth's favourite Robert, 1st Earl of Leicester. In 1571 Philip Sidney began a tour of the Continent with the aim of improving his languages … Continue reading Sir Philip Sidney – The Death and Burial of a Most Noble and Valorous Knight

Early Modern Women – Margaret, Lady Hoby (1571-1633)

Margaret, Lady Hoby, is best known as the author of  the earliest known diary written by a woman in English. While her diary began as a religious exercise and includes details of her religious practices, prayer and reading, it is also a window through which we can glimpse the busy domestic life of a woman … Continue reading Early Modern Women – Margaret, Lady Hoby (1571-1633)

Irish Heritage – Patrick McGrath (1848-1911)

My great grandfather Patrick McGrath was born at Finnahy in Tipperary and was baptized at the church in Upperchurch on the 19 Jul 1848. He was the eldest son and fifth child of Thomas McGrath and Mary Ryan. In 1853, when Patrick was five, the family left Ireland and migrated to Australia. For the first … Continue reading Irish Heritage – Patrick McGrath (1848-1911)