There’s a tang of salt in the air as Giordano Bruno and Sir Philip Sidney head to Plymouth in this fourth instalment of his adventures. Drake is about to set out on another quest for fame, glory, and riches, plus of course the opportunity to pull a few Spanish beards … until one of his crew is murdered.
I’d hazard that proportionately, more of us who Read (capitalisation intended), and who write blogs, believe themselves capable of writing a book. I mean, look at The Boar’s Head – just over a quarter of a million words written since its inception in 2016.
So from about Easter onwards this year I was declaring to my older classes with increasing insouciance that this summer, of all summers, was the one that I would spend writing ‘The Book‘ …
Stacey Halls, The Familiars, (London:Zaffre, 2019)
Despite the anachronism of Elizabeth I’s lengthy reign, the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries provide rich pickings for any author attempting to write a feminist exposition of the harsh injustices visited on so many women.
Perhaps there’s none harsher than the treatment of witches …
Dan Jones, The Hollow Crown: The Wars of the Roses and the Rise of the Tudors, (London: Faber & Faber, 2015)
Dan Jones’ muscular account begins with Catherine de Valois’ marriage to Henry V in 1420, and ends in 1541, with the brutal execution of Margaret Pole (at 67) by Henry VIII; the final remnant of the Plantagenet dynasty to be mopped up by the Tudors.
I’ve been known to use A Clockwork Orange as a way of accessing Shakespeare: if you can decipher Burgess’s prose in that, my reasoning goes, Shakespeare should hold few terrors for you – simply apply the same skills. That’s a dazzling novel. So I approached A Dead Man in Deptfordwith some excitement and expectation, stoked by one of the most visually arresting book covers I’ve seen in years.
This second Hew Cullan mystery begins two years after the events of the first.It is 1581: Hew has returned to St Andrews on the death of his father, a man rendered a stranger to him through time and distance.
Today marks the day when the undeniably mighty Armada, reeling from a night attack by fireships and blocked from retreating down the Channel, was pummelled by English ships and scattered northwards by storms. Unable to regroup, they tried – and many failed – to get home the hard way, via Scotland and Ireland.
Dying in 1587, just as Shakespeare probably got going, Mary Queen of Scots has been a peripheral figure in my reading, writing and teaching over the past few years.Perhaps unjustly.In her book, ‘Elizabeth & Mary:Cousins, Rivals, Queens’, Jane Dunn fascinatingly posits that one queen can only be defined by contrast to her rival.