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The Present Past – Writing History

Using the Present Tense to Write About the Past Writing about the past in the present tense is hot with publishers but does it work for readers? In writing and rhetoric, the historical present or narrative present is the employment of the present tense when narrating...

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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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18th Century Smuggling Fact and Fiction

Pirates and Smuggling Fact and Fiction In the 18th century, the British government collected a good deal of its income from customs duties - tax paid on the import of goods such as tea, cloth, wine, and spirits. The tax on imported goods could be up to 30% so smuggled...

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5 Ways to Improve Your Writing

5 Ways to improve your writing So you're thinking about writing - for your blog, for your company, for industry publications, or maybe just for fun. Maybe you've never considered writing but you’re quickly realising you’re going to have to do it and do it well, for...

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How to Make a Character Stand Out in a Novel

The profession or the jobs of your character does plays a major role in making your novel a hit. That's because a character’s profession affects the entire story. A job or profession gives an indication of personality, class, wealth and motivation. You can use it as a...

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Sinclair Extras – Onboard the Sherwell

Sinclair Extracts -This scene was almost entirely edited out of the final version of the book. I enjoyed writing it as I was developing the characters of Sinclair and Greenwood. In these scenes, the men emerged as they appear in the final novel. The scene is based...

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Writers of Influence – Mary Wesley

I loved Mary Wesley's books. I think I read them all in the 1980s and 1990's before my children were born. I really enjoyed the TV adaptations too. Her work was refreshing, vivid and bittersweet, her style was effortless. She is a great influence on me still. Mary...

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Princess Sophia – Seduced, Abandoned and Blackmailed

This is the sad story of Princess Sophia. An unworldly and shy woman who was seduced by a man 33 years her senior, gave birth to his illegitimate child and was blackmailed by her son to pay his father's debts. According to biographer Christopher Hibbert, in her young...

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Byron’s Daughters – A Tale of Three Sisters

Byron's Daughters Julia Herdman writes historical fiction that puts women to the fore. Her latest book Sinclair, Tales of Tooley Street Vol. 1. is  Available on Amazon – Paperback £10.99 Kindle £2.42 Born in London in 1788, the poet George Gordon Byron, or Lord Byron...

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Writers of influence – Hilary Mantel

The dead are always present, says Hilary Mantel, they live with us in our memory, in our genes and in the legacy of their decisions and actions that shaped the world we live in today. In the words of St Augustine, she says, they are 'invisible, they are not absent'....

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Turkish Delight

Turquerie was the fashion for all things Turkish. It started in the late sixteenth century and lasted well into the nineteenth. unconcerned with the realities of life in the east it was rather a product of European fantasies about the luxuries of the Orient. Turkey...

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Chocolate and treachery – The drinking dens of St James’s

Chocolate Drinking in St James's For a city with little tradition of hot drinks, chocolate was an alien, suspect substance drink associated with popery and idleness. The principal chocolate houses were Ozinda’s and White’s, both on St James’s Street, and the Cocoa...

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The pursuit of love and happiness

The pursuit of love and happiness was an 18th-century ideal. Voltaire (1694-1778), the French philosopher and author was one of its chief exponents and is one of the heroes of my character Sinclair. Sinclair takes his copy of Candide, Voltaire's satirical novel to...

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