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A Ghost Story for Christmas

The Nanny - A Ghost Story For Christmas It was November and the war had been over for more than a year when I took Rosamond Furnivall to live with her great aunt in Cumbria. Like me, Rosamond was an orphan. On a clear summer's day in 1944, a V2 fell silent, dropped...

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The Man Who Transformed the Health of Londoners

Edwin Chadwick is the man who transformed the health of Londoners. In a time when diseases like smallpox, cholera, and TB were insatiable in their taking of human life Edwin Chadwick used his position to persuade the government to invest in public health. Chadwick...

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10 Things That Turn a Character Bad

10 Things that turn a character bad All great stories have baddies. Baddies or antagonists are the characters who get in your hero or heroine's way. They create conflict and problems – all the things readers love. Evil villains help create a story that is exciting and...

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Whistle-blower in the Maternity Ward

Key Words: Whistleblower, Maternity Ignaz Semmelweis was the Hungarian obstetrician and a whistle-blower who spoke out about bad practice in maternity wards. The work done by Semmelweis all but removed puerperal fever, commonly known as Childbed fever, from the...

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The Princess Who Married a Hunchback

Princess Anne, the Princess Royal was the eldest daughter of George II. She was born into what we would call an extremely dysfunctional family in May 1709. (For more information about her grandmother and the House of Hanover read my blog on 15th November.) Anne was a...

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Sex and the City

There were two ways for a girl to get on in the 18th century and they both involved sex, the risk of disease and the likelihood of an early death. A woman could become a wife or a city prostitute; of course, the latter was the far riskier option and the one most...

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Princess Sophia Dorothea the Uncrowned Queen of Britain

This is the history of the shocking case of a Princess who was married against her will, spurned by her husband, divorced, and then imprisoned for 33 years. Princess Sophia Dorothea of Brunswick- Lüneburg did not have a good start in life; she was born illegitimately;...

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A Room of One’s Own – A History of Letter Writing

The history of letter writing is part of women's history. Writing letters to family and friends was one of the new pastimes enjoyed by 18th-century middle-class women. Although the Post Office had been open since 1660  it was not until the 18th century that the use of...

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The Portland Vase – An 18th Century Obesssion

The story of the Portland Vase encapsulates so much about the 18th century. It is a story of fascination with the classical world, the acquisition of antiquities and of technological and artistic excellence of British manufacture. The vase that is known as the...

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Against the Grain – 18th Century British Art

British art has always been slightly different from that of mainstream Europe. Perhaps it's because we're an island. European painting in the eighteenth century is generally conceived as radiating from Paris. There was a strong move during the course of the 18th...

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The Present Past – Writing History

In writing and rhetoric, the historical present or historic present (also called dramatic present or narrative present) is the employment of the present tense when narrating past events. It is widely used in writing about history in Latin (where it is sometimes...

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The Duchess of Hamilton

The Duchess of Hamilton was born in Ireland, Elizabeth Gunning. She was a celebrity beauty who caused a sensation when she and her sister were introduced into high society. Though the sisters had neither dowries nor rank, their physical attractiveness secured them...

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The Palazzo del Re – Home of the Stuarts in Exile

The Palazzo del Re was home to the exiled Jacobite court and the Stuarts in Rome. Owned by the Muti family, it was rented by the Papacy for the Old Pretender, James Francis Edward Stuart. Both James's sons, Charles Edward ('Bonnie Prince Charlie') and Henry Benedict,...

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How to Write a Good Love Letter

How to Write a Good Love Letter Benjamin Franklin wrote a good love letter. In 1779, Benjamin Franklin fell in love with Anne Catherine Helvétius, the widow of the Swiss-French philosopher, Claude-Adrien Helvétius. He was serving as the U.S. envoy to France at the...

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Bonnie Prince Charlie and Toad Escape Dressed as Women

Bonnie Prince Charlie and Toad - What do they have in common? It is a surprising thing to say but Bonnie Prince Charlie and Kenneth Graham’s character Toad, (Wind in the Willows, 1908) have much in common. Both were good-natured, kind-hearted and not without...

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Six Rules for Writing Historical Fiction

Six Rules for Writing Historical Fiction Historical fiction is a literary genre in which the plot takes place in a setting located in the past. Historical fiction is an umbrella term; though it is commonly used as a synonym for describing the historical novel....

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The Aftermath of Culloden – 1746

The retribution that followed the defeat of the Jacobite Army at Culloden in 1746 has passed into legend for its brutality and savagery and has formed the backdrop to many classic stories including Robert Louis Stevenson’s Kidnapped and more recently Diana Gabaldon’s...

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