Getting It Right…

Over the past couple of days I have had the immense pleasure of sitting in the audience at the inaugural talks of the Chalke Valley History Festival (, where–on Thursday evening–I heard Andrew Lambert and Peter Snow talking about Lord Nelson and the Duke of Wellington.

And may I say that Professor Lambert was every bit as superb, as precise, informative and thoughtful as I remembered from his lectures during the conferences leading up to the bicentenary of Trafalgar.

Today, I had the privilege of hearing Katie Hickman, Katharine McMahon, Simon Scarrow and Guy Walters discussing Fact and Fiction–all about historical fiction writing.  Which I found immensely helpful too.

All had found themselves carried off by research which had led not where they thought they were going.  Ha ha.  All had found it necessary to leave some of their favourite discoveries out.  All were passionate about history and historical fiction.  (As was the audience!)  And all mentioned the difficulties of conveying the past without getting bogged down in concepts that contemporary readers may find difficult–religion being one.  Continue reading


Writing May 1812

elder sparsholtWhen I look at the journey on which writing May 1812 has taken me, I know it’s a blessing that no one told me where it would take me, nor how long it would take me to get there.

It started life as a desire to show the men of the period as they were–all-rounders in a way.  They were none of them military strategists, they had no financial advisors, and there wasn’t a civil service.  If they had a secretary, they paid his salary.  And they did their business not just in their offices; but as most of them were society figures, they did it in their clubs and tucked away in the corners of the social events of the year–yes, even at, probably at, Almack’s.  The Foreign Secretary’s wife, Lady Castlereagh, was after all, one of the patronesses of the place.  And because their work was all-consuming, it affected every aspect of their lives.  No part was free of the political dilemma in which they found themselves.

Then, shockingly– Continue reading