The Last Royal Rebel

by Anna Keay (Bloomsbury, 2016)

During the horrific, botched execution of James, Duke of Monmouth, in 1685, the crowd remained silent and ‘many cried’, until, incensed by the ‘barbarous usage’ of the duke, they surged forward and would have torn the executioner to pieces had soldiers not prevented it. Yet the label on Monmouth’s portrait in the National Gallery reads: ‘charming, ambitious, unprincipled’. In The Last Royal Rebel, the Life and Death of James, Duke of Monmouth, Anna Keay shows us a complex, often contradictory man: a frivolous, pampered royal bastard with an astute political mind; a gambling spendthrift who becomes a war hero; a much-maligned man brought low by his sense of what was right and fair, and his need to be loved by his father. Continue reading “The Last Royal Rebel”

Plague and Tulips: gambling in a time of pestilence.

The first recorded economic bubble, ‘tulipomania’, occurred in the Dutch United Provinces between 1635 and 1637. The 1630s were a period of intense political and religious intrigue, when Pope Urban VIII appeared to be supporting Spain’s attempt to reclaim her lost territories in the Netherlands, but was actually conspiring to limit the size and power of the Habsburg Empire, Continue reading “Plague and Tulips: gambling in a time of pestilence.”

Writing historical fiction – when & why.

Which epoch and why? #1
JGH: ‘I write stories set in the seventeenth century and the early twentieth century.’

Question: ‘Why those epochs?’

Good question. Let’s look at some clichés first: Roman sword’n’sandal stories are bloody and exciting; the War of the Roses is full of intrigue; Tudor novels are sexy; Regency novels are titillating; Victorian novels are upstairs and downstairs; and World War stories are full love, loyalty and family suffering. But the seventeenth century has it all – and Continue reading “Writing historical fiction – when & why.”