Saturday, 9 December 2017

Diana talks to Christine Hartweg

Hi Christine. Thank you for coming on *Diana Talks To...*

Let us get started. I am sure there is a question that you have always longed to be asked. Now is the chance. Ask your own question and answer it!

 Do you really like Queen Elizabeth I? 
– Not sure, really. The circles I grew up in considered her an overdressed, bewigged old hag who presided over an unprecedented cultural flowering. It took me years to understand that she was a real human being (seeing her as a 12-year-old in a red silk dress was a healthy shock in this respect); my respect for her grows daily.

What is the genre you are best known for?
– That would be historical non-fiction; I hope if people know me at all, they know me for my research into John & Robert Dudley of Tudor England (the Duke of Northumberland and the Earl of Leicester, respectively). (Christine's excellent books are available from Amazon: John Dudley, Amy Rosbart )

What made you choose this genre?
– Clearly my fascination with said people. It started in the late 1990s and was rekindled in about 2007 after reading a book on the Earl of Essex, Robert Dudley's stepson (I also like Essex).    

Favourite picture or work of art?
– That's so hard, as I love so many, literally thousands. But if I have to choose one, the Wedding at Cana by Paolo Veronese in the Louvre.

Was becoming a writer a conscious decision or something that you drifted into (or even something so compelling that it could not be denied?) How old were you when you first started to write seriously.
– I sort of drifted into writing about the Dudleys due to my interest in them, and at some point I started a blog and some friends said I should write a book. I don't think that I ever wanted to be a writer, although I've always loved writing and there were moments when I thought it would be great to be able to write a biography on this or that person. As a teenager, I wanted to make films.

Marmite? Love it or hate it?
– Never tried it. ((What??? Shocked face!! Diana))

Do you have any rituals and routines when writing? Your favourite cup for example or ‘that’ piece of music...??
– I don't hear music while writing, nor do I have any rituals except to open the file and actually get started. But I need the writing space I am used to. For most of the year this is me sitting on my bed with my laptop; in summer, the weather allowing, this is a small table on the terrace (also with my laptop).  

Other than writing full time, what would be your dream job?
– I've always wanted to be a pharmacist.

Coffee or tea? Red or white?
– I don't drink any of those, actually, my favourite beverage is Coke.

How much of your work is planned before you start? Do you have a full draft or let it find its way?
– Writing non-fiction, I think working hard on a chapter plan is essential. Still, there always come up important new aspects or facts while writing, so you never know at the start what exactly the book will be like in the end. You never know what you'll find, that's exiting.  

If you had free choice over the font your book is printed in, what font/fonts would you choose?
– I'm happy with Times Roman (and Georgia for some elements).

Are you prepared to go away from the known facts for the sake of the story and if so how do you get around this?
– No, I am certainly not prepared to do this, ahem; but I know that moment when something you believe did happen would fit very nicely into the story and then, upon checking the sources again, you notice it didn't happen at all. I guess cutting the whole passage is best, although it may be hard and entail some rewriting.

Have you ever totally hated or fallen in love with one of your characters?
– I think writing about people automatically makes them more likeable. On the other hand, of course I needed to “fall in love” with my main characters in order to keep up the research on them.

What do you enjoy reading for pleasure?
– I try to read all I read for pleasure, I have serious trouble reading things I can't get into. My favourite stuff is historical non-fiction, not necessarily about the Tudors, and also art books.  ((Same here!))

What drink would you recommend drinking whilst reading your latest book?
– Coke, of course.

Last but not least... favourite author?
– Let's say Robert Louis Stevenson and William Shakespeare.

Christine Hartweg

© Diana Milne January 2017 
© Christine Hartweg November 2017

Christine Hartweg lives in Berlin and was born in South America in 1972. She has researched the Dudley family of Tudor England since 2008 and has advised the BBC and other TV channels. She wrote "John Dudley: The Life of Lady Jane Grey's Father-in-Law", and her new book is "Amy Robsart: A Life and Its End". Christine runs the specialist blog

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Louise Wyatt reviews Rosa by Jeanette Taylot Ford

Today Emma Powell reviews Rosa, the fabulous new release from Jeanette Taylor Ford. The author has kindly offered a paperback copy (signed if the winner is in the UK) as a giveaway. To be in with a chance of winning this fabulous story, simply leave a comment below of on our Facebook Page.
The winner will be drawn on 13th December 2017.
Good luck!

Elizabeth Rosa Fulton is leading a great life. The bright star in the sky of Lake Enterprises as its Business Manager, she is also the shining light in the life of Justin Lake, her boss and owner of Lake Enterprises. However, as the result of a certain event, all this suddenly changes, leaving Elizabeth broken hearted and without a job or a home.
When her grandfather, Lord Carrington, offers her the post of Estate Manager to the Longdene Estate, Elizabeth feels that this is the place to recover from her broken heart and be useful to the family at the same time. And indeed, she loves Longdene and the friends she makes there. But, as time goes on, as she learns about the mysterious disappearance, many years before, of her great grandmother and namesake Rosa, Elizabeth becomes a victim of a series of unexplained and scary ‘dreams’.
As the events escalate, Elizabeth has cause to doubt everyone around her, even her friends. And, as the culmination of experiences rises to something quite terrifying, Elizabeth has to ask herself if she is really being haunted by her dead great grandparents or is she going mad?

Well, this book certainly keeps the old brain matter ticking!  A storyline that is constant and focused, Jeanette writes with a flair for the psychological grip that keeps a reader reading and the pages turning.

In fact, I really am stumped at what genre to put this book in; a fabulous twisty, turning thriller that turns into a literary weave across thriller, mystery, paranormal and romance and it shows the gift of the author to be able to carry the story through.  What makes this book stand out is the fact it can’t actually be put in the usual boxes – it’s unique.

So, we have the main character of Lady Elizabeth Rosa Fulton but this is no high-brow aristocrat; she becomes known as Izzy throughout the book, whose ordered life goes all wrong and has to retreat to the family home and estate in Norfolk, a world away from her life and stress in London. She was a high-flyer, with a matching lifestyle and a lover who ends up turning her world upside down. Once she arrives at her family estate, she encounters the enigmatic estate manager Dan, who has an almost supernatural gift; his sister Gerry, who helps keep Izzy grounded, and then we have her grandfather.  What you see (read) of him isn’t necessarily what you get.  As her recuperation progresses, Izzy begins to learn of her great-grandmother’s disappearance which transpires to be a closely guarded family secret and once the doorway to a locked room is opened, Izzy starts having visions of Rosa, her great-grandmother and the lady whom she is named after.

Written in the first person, Rosa’s tragic story from the past begins to be told through Izzy’s present day. The author cleverly takes you through the emotional highs and lows, the fear, the unknown and the what-will-happen-next. Who do you trust, who do you not, who is helping you, who is against you?  With a character list kept quite limited, the story is intense and vibrant, never dulling for a moment and again, it is the gift of the author that the writing never falls flat, or bland but keeps the reader in the moment. 

With poor Izzy fearing for her sanity – and no wonder – plus the ex-boyfriend reappearing to stir things up a bit, the reader can fully empathise with Izzy and be left wondering if indeed, poor Izzy is going mad or there is something else going on.

It really is difficult to put down as each chapter builds the tension and the intrigue to an ending you cannot see coming – in fact, I guarantee you will not predict the twist! The prologue meaning becomes obvious as you progress through the book.  You get a taster for how delightfully addictive this book will be by that one-page prologue alone.

Bit difficult to go into anymore story as it would give the whole book away.  Needless to say, if you like an adventure, to be on the edge of your seat, with time to read a whole book in one day, as well as fall in love with the characters, like a shock and enjoy a bit of every genre going, this book should, at the very least, be on your To Be Read Pile.  It won’t stay there very long.  

About the author:
Jeanette Taylor-Ford is a retired Teaching Assistant. She grew up in Cromer, Norfolk, England and moved to Hereford with her parents when she was seventeen. An undiagnosed Coeliac, Jeanette was a poorly child but even when only nine or ten she had the ability to write good stories. When young her ambition was to be a journalist but life took her in another direction and her life’s work has been with children – firstly as a nursery assistant in a children’s home, and later in education. In between she raised her own six children and she now has seven grandchildren. Jeanette took up writing again in 2010; to date she has written three other books besides 'Rosa' and hopes to published them soon. Besides writing, Jeanette enjoys reading, sewing and other handicrafts. She lives with her husband Tony, a retired teacher and headmaster, in Derbyshire, England. 
Rosa is available from Amazon

About the reviewer: 

Louise realised her love of words and all things written when, at the tender age of five, she began devouring Ladybird books faster than her teacher could supply them. After winning various writing and poetry competitions throughout school, she ended up having her family then training to be a nurse, but always wrote for pleasure. Louise became a book reviewer and proof reader as well as starting a blog a few years ago for her love of history. Her first book, Secret Hayes by Amberley Publishing, is due for release 15th February 2018 and Louise is currently writing Secret Chepstow and A History of Nursing, both also for Amberley.
Secret Hayes will be available in the UK from Amberley, W H Smith, Waterstones, Amazon and worldwide from Book Depository.
You can find Louise on Facebook and at her blog

Sunday, 3 December 2017

The Cat, the Rat and Lovell, our Dog: Part one**. 'The Cat' - William Catesby.

William Catesby came from a minor Northamptonshire family - he was the son of Sir William Catesby of Ashby St Ledgers, Northamptonshire and Philippa, the heiress daughter of Sir William Bishopston and was born circa 1446. He was trained for the law in the Inner Temple and as an up and coming young lawyer, initially forged ahead in the service of William, 1st Lord Hastings. He married Margaret, daughter of William La Zouche, 6th Baron Zouche of Harringworth and the couple had three sons. William Catesby is often erroneously called Sir William, and spoken of as a knight, but was only an Esquire of the Royal Body.

Upon the death of his father he inherited a large number of estates in the English Midlands and was land-agent for many others. By a combination of useful contacts, family connections and legal astuteness he acquired posts as legal advisor, steward or councillor to a number of noble families, including his father in law, Lord Zouche, Lord Scrope of Bolton, the afore mentioned Lord Hastings and the Duke of Buckingham. He was one of Edward IV’s councillors and was a member of the council that ruled during the short reign of Edward V. After Richard of Gloucester was crowned as King, Catesby was one of the monarch's closest advisors, profiting from the fall of his sponsor, Hastings, and maybe colluding with Richard in bringing about Hastings' execution.

Immediately after Richard's accession he obtained an office which Hastings had previously held, that of one of the chamberlains of the receipt of Exchequer. On the same day (30 June 1483) Richard appointed him Chancellor of the Exchequer, and also Chancellor of the earldom of March for life. Next year he was chosen Speaker in Richard's only parliament in which he sat as knight of the shire for Northamptonshire, a position which is the nearest to being a member of parliament in that era. He also received a substantial grant of land from the king, enough to make him richer than most knights.

In July 1484, William Collingbourne, an English landowner who was an opponent of Richard III, tacked up a lampooning poem to St. Paul's Cathedral, which mentions Catesby among the three aides to King Richard,, whose emblem was a white boar:
The Catte, the Ratte and Lovell our dogge rulyth all Englande under a hogge.
(The Ratte refers to Richard Ratcliffe and the dog here refers to a Lovell family heraldic symbol.

William Catesby was one of the two councillors, the other beings Richard Ratcliffe, who allegedly told the king that marrying his neice, Elizabeth of York, would cause rebellions in the north. There is no evidence to suggest that Richard ever intended to marry her! but mud sticks...
Catesby fought with Richard at the Battle of Bosworth and was captured. Alone of those of importance he was executed three days later at Leicester. The suggestion that he might have made a deal with the Stanleys before the battle comes from his will when he asked them "to pray for my soul as ye have not for my body, as I trusted in you." * 

After his death his estates were mostly confiscated by Henry VII. Catesby was succeeded by his eldest son, George, to whom the family seat of Ashby St Legers was later restored. Robert Catesby, leader of the Gunpowder Plot, was a descendant.

* A blog at a later date will go into his Will in some detail.

** Part 2 (Ratcliffe) and 3  (Lovell) to follow in January and February 2018.

© Diana Milne November 2017

We know meat rarely formed part of the average Tudor person’s diet, being expensive to procure and to roast. However this was not the case at court, where the amount of meat consumed by the Tudor aristocracy was immense. The royal court’s annual provision of meat consisted of:
• 1,240 oxen
• 8,200 sheep
• 2,330 deer
• 760 calves
• 1,870 pigs
• 53 wild boar
And these figures don’t take into account the additional requirements of lavish, one-off feasts, such as Edward’s christening!

The Tudors had other strict rules when eating at court, some of which were recorded by the Dutch Writer, Desiderius Erasmus, who published his De Civitate in 1534:
Sit not down until you have washed.
Undo your belt a little if it will make you more comfortable; because doing this during the meal is bad manners.
When you wipe your hands clean, put good thoughts forward in your mind, for it doesn’t do to come to dinner sad, and thus make others sad.
Once you sit place your hands neatly on the table; not on your trencher, and not around your belly.
Don’t shift your buttocks left and right as if to let off some blast. Sit neatly and still.
Any gobbit that cannot be taken easily with the hand, take it on your trencher.
Don’t wipe your fingers on your clothes; use the napkin or the ‘board cloth’.
If someone is ill mannered by ignorance, let it pass rather than point it out.
‘Every true Christen man sholde be mery, jocunde and glad’
(from the Paston Letters 1422-1509)

Leftovers from Henry VIII’s table, the Great Watching Chamber, and the Great Hall were collected in a ‘voider’ (a large basket) and would be distributed to the poor by the Almoner. Those who ate in their own rooms were to take their leftovers to the scullery for the same purpose. Evidence of these collections can be found in the Eltham Ordinances, a series of regulations for the royal household produced in 1526, which states:
‘all such as have their lodgings within the court shall give straight charge to the ministers and keepers of their chambers, that they do not cast, leave or lay any manner of dishes, platters, saucers, or broken meat, either in the said galleries, or at their chamber doors… and likewise to put the relics of their ale into another vessel… so that broken meat and drink be in no wise lost, cast away, or eaten with dogs, nor lie abroad in the galleries or courts, but may daily be saved for the relief of poor folks’.
Anyone who disobeyed this rule was punished, and on the third offence, any who failed to give their leftovers over to the Almoner would forfeit their allowance, lodging and ‘bouche of court’ (the permission to eat and drink at court).

Appears in: Richard III

Along with Ratcliffe and Lovell, Catesby serves as one of Gloucester's (and then Richard III's) primary supporters inRichard III. One of the more important tasks he is given is to persuade Lord Hastings to support Gloucester's accession to the throne. Hastings refuses and is subsequently executed

Ricardian says:

If the general effect of the rhyme and reading Shakespeare’s play leave you imagining Catesby, Ratcliffe and Lovell as Richard’s gang of three henchmen then have another look at the true facts of history.

Fabyan, R