The Queen’s Rival by Anne O’Brien

Today I'm delighted to be sharing an excerpt from Anne O’Brien's The Queen's Rival, a novel of Cecily Neville, Duchess of York. The Queen's Rival has been recently released in paperback. Duchess Cecily teaches a lesson in Ludlow Castle, October 1459 We were in occupation of one of the corner chambers in the old gatehouse … Continue reading The Queen’s Rival by Anne O’Brien

‘WANTED a BOY to make himself generally useful.’

In the 19th century the front page of newspapers was not the place for lurid headlines and large photographs designed to catch the eye. It was a serious place where births, marriages and deaths were announced; timetables for ferries listed; ‘superior’ accommodation, government tenders and everything from grain, newly milled flour and candles to ladies’ … Continue reading ‘WANTED a BOY to make himself generally useful.’

Early Modern Women – Sabine Johnson (c1521-1597?)

There is no known portrait of Sabine Saunders.This portrait is of Jane Pemberton (1518–1602) whose life bears some similarities to Sabine's, She was the daughter of Christopher Pemberton, a Northamptonshire gentleman and married Nicholas Small, a London cloth merchant, probably in about 1540.Hans Holbein c1540 / Public domain Sabine Saunders was the daughter of Thomas … Continue reading Early Modern Women – Sabine Johnson (c1521-1597?)

Dramatis Personae – The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel

I have been savouring The Mirror and the Light for about a month now and, like most people, when I think of Thomas Cromwell I think of Mark Rylance although I know he looks nothing like Cromwell. Apart from the major players, I have no idea what many of the other characters looked like. So … Continue reading Dramatis Personae – The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel

‘To have and to hold from this day forward’ – The Celebration of Marriage in Early Modern England

The final step on the road to marriage in the 16th century was, as it is now, the marriage service itself. At its most basic, all that was needed to create a marriage was a mutual promise to marry followed by consummation.(1) Unfortunately for many women, this was often not enough to ensure that the … Continue reading ‘To have and to hold from this day forward’ – The Celebration of Marriage in Early Modern England

Witchcraft Trials in Early Modern England

A far more succinct version of this post was published by The Coffee Pot Book Club on 9 March 2020. ‘The early-modern European witch-hunts were neither orchestrated massacres nor spontaneous pogroms. Alleged witches were not rounded up at night and summarily killed extra-judicially or lynched as the victims of mob justice. They were executed after trial and … Continue reading Witchcraft Trials in Early Modern England

Meandering through Cyberspace in February 2020

The internet has dramatically enlarged our access to a wealth of information. Most days I spend some time online looking for items related to those things the interest me most - reading, writing and history. Without fail, every time, I find something new and interesting. So, here, I'd like to share a few of the … Continue reading Meandering through Cyberspace in February 2020

Norwich Castle – Palace and Prison

Norwich Castle’s square keep has dominated the centre of Norwich for centuries. It has dominated my thinking, too, for at least four years since I visited it in 2016. It could almost be said that I have obsessed over, particularly, the arrangement of the interior of the castle as a section of my latest novel, … Continue reading Norwich Castle – Palace and Prison