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Posted in 19th Century Author Guest Post

guest post: Scarlette Pike on Researching her 19th Century Africa Novel

A desperate prayer and a dream led me to read the journals of Dr. David Livingstone (You may know him from the famous quote: “Dr. Livingstone, I presume”). He landed in southern Africa in 1841 employed by the London Missionary Society to spread Christianity. He then traveled through the interior of Africa preaching, but after only one man was converted after years of sermons he largely gave up on missionary work and set his sights on documenting, mapping and exploring the African interior – making historical, noteworthy strides and putting a serious hitch in the slave trade as he went. But what about his one convert? He was actually a chief of a large tribe: Chief Sechele of the Bakwena. He listened to David’s and…

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Posted in Arthurian Author Guest Post

guest post: The Search for King Arthur

In Search of King Arthur By historical author, Tim Walker There can be few characters from history or legend who have captured the imagination quite as much as King Arthur. The story of the noble warrior king who led his knights against the forces of evil and ultimately was doomed to betrayal by those closest to him has been told and retold many times since the Twelfth Century when it was first set down in detail. Many historians have searched for clues to try and answer the question of whether Arthur was a real historical figure, or merely a legend. There are no surviving accounts from the time when he was said to have lived – the late fifth and early sixth centuries – that…

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Posted in Guest Post

guest post: The French Nelson

When British and French fleets met in battle during the 18th century, as a general rule, it was always the British that won. Not every time, granted, and there were plenty of encounters that ended in strategic draws, but overall this is true. But there was a notable exception to this rule. The French admiral who led his nation’s fleet in the Indian Ocean during the American War of Independence fought no less than five fleet actions against the Royal Navy, and never lost any of them. Indeed, he never even lost a ship. His name was Pierre Andre de Suffren. He joined the French Navy in 1743, as a fourteen year old midshipman. Four years later be tasted his first defeat, when the convoy…

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Posted in 18th Century Spain

The Barefoot Queen

This one caught my eye; it’s not often you find novels about gypsies! At 647 pages it sounds like quite a read! This is what the Historical Novel Society had to say: “The broad scope of this novel vividly brings to life both gypsy and Spanish life in this era, as well as the combined gypsy, Spanish, and slave influences that gave birth to art of flamenco as we know it today. Falcones provides a great deal of background information which helps the reader navigate the era and history.” The Barefoot Queen by Ildefonso Falcones BOOK DESCRIPTION: “Spain, 1748. Caridad is a recently freed Cuban slave wandering the streets of Seville. Her master is dead and she has nowhere to go. When, by chance, she…

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Posted in 20th Century America Classics Reviews

review: The Bell Jar

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath Esther Greenwood is a promising, young college student from Boston who had been given the chance to gain real world experience and connections at a month-long literary program in New York City. Somewhere along the way she began to lose pieces of herself, and once she returned home her reality quickly unraveled. She started looking for ways to commit suicide, and ended up in a series of mental facilities. Her unnerving (though curiously intelligible) thought processes are succinctly described, with memories plucked from here and there and mingled with her ravings. For me, Esther is not much of a relatable character, or even a likable one, but she serves her purpose in bringing to light the world of mental…

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Posted in Guest Post

guest post: Winston Churchill’s Tattoo

Philip K. Allan is back with another intriguing article! At the end of the 18th century, a new craze was sweeping the lower decks of the Royal Navy. The very latest fashion accessory for the well turned out sailor was to have a tattoo. Then, as now, young men found the lure of decorated skin irresistible. The reason for its spread came in the wake of the voyages of exploration that Captain Cook had made twenty years earlier. Tattooing had existed in the islands of the Pacific for centuries before Cook arrived. The word tattoo is Polynesian, and is the sound made by the little wooden hammers that the islanders use to puncture the skin. The dense patterns of lines that adorned the locals impressed…

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Posted in 18th Century Guest Post

guest post: The Real Blackbeard

Who, Truly, Was Blackbeard, And From Whence Did He Come? Will The Real Pirate Commodore Please Stand Up? by Samuel Marquis In Blackbeard: The Birth of America, Historical Fiction Author Samuel Marquis, the ninth great-grandson of Captain William Kidd, chronicles the legendary Edward Thache—former British Navy seaman and notorious privateer-turned-pirate, who lorded over the Atlantic seaboard and Caribbean during the Golden Age of Piracy. A Robin-Hood-like American patriot and the most famous freebooter of all time, Blackbeard was illegally hunted down by Virginia Governor Alexander Spotswood, the British Crown’s man in Williamsburg obsessed with his capture. This year marks the 300th anniversary of Blackbeard’s death. In becoming the Blackbeard of legend, Edward Thache of Spanish Town, Jamaica, has represented many different things to many different…

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Posted in 19th Century 20th Century America

guest post: John Nuckel on a Chance Meeting with Teddy Wilson

One of the most important events in American music happened at New York’s Carnegie Hall in 1938. There was a Benny Goodman concert that night. It actually was radical to have Goodman there at all playing his brand of swing music on the stage of such a prestigious venue. The seminal moment came when he brought out his quartet to play Sing Sing Sing with a Swing. The quartet that evening was Harry James on the trumpet, the great Gene Krupa on drums, and Goodman of course, on clarinet. The fourth member was Teddy Wilson on piano. Teddy Wilson, an African American center stage at Carnegie Hall nine years before Jackie Robinson walked onto the diamond at Ebbet’s Field. Not only did Goodman have the…

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Posted in 18th Century Guest Post

guest post: Why Did Ships Have Figureheads?

Please welcome back author Philip K. Allen with another article relating to his new novel! Figureheads are magnificent things. Stroll along the ranks of huge, colourfully painted ones in the naval museums at Greenwich or Portsmouth, and you cannot help but be impressed by the skill and effort that went into carving them. All of which begs the question why ship builders went to the effort and expense of commissioning such elaborate works of art to adorn the front of their vessels? They have no apparent function for the ship other than decoration. With the rise of modernity and corporate accountancy in the late nineteenth century, the figurehead quickly disappeared. The recently launched aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth may be the latest and largest ship…

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Posted in Biography Georgia Local History Non-Fiction Reviews

review: Martha Berry: A Woman of Courageous Spirit and Bold Dreams

Martha Berry: A Woman of Courageous Spirit and Bold Dreams by Joyce Blackburn This young adult biography was first published in 1968 and reissued in 1986 with photos and an author’s postscript. Martha Berry was the founder of The Berry Schools (later called Berry College) in Rome, Georgia. She had an early interest in the “mountain people” at the foot of the Appalachian mountains in Northwest Georgia. She noticed they lacked any sort of schooling and she meant to change that. With the land that her father had passed on, she built first a boy’s school and later a girl’s school with the motto, “Not to be ministered unto, but to minister.” The students would work and learn at the same time. Though the school…

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Posted in Austen Reviews

review: Lost in Austen

Lost in Austen: Create Your Own Jane Austen Adventure by Emma Campbell Webster A note beforehand: although released a year previously, this book has nothing to do with the 2008 TV Mini Series titled Lost in Austen (of which I knew nothing about until I Googled for a book image.) Book Description: “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a young Austen heroine must be in want of a husband, and you are no exception. Your name: Elizabeth Bennet. Your mission: to marry both prudently and for love, avoiding family scandal. Equipped with only your sharp wit, natural good sense, and tolerable beauty, you must navigate your way through a variety of decisions that will determine your own romantic (and financial) fate. Ever wonder what…

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Posted in 18th Century Guest Post

guest post: Google and the Death of the Historical Novel

Please welcome author Philip K. Allan today with his take on the pros and cons of writing in the digital age. Don’t get me wrong, I love Google. As a writer of historical novels, it is the search engine that I have open on my PC as I work, ready to be dipped into to check a fact or study an image. It once provided me with a moment of pure serendipity. I needed to find some plants native to Barbados to add colour to a scene on a sugar plantation. Through Google I learnt of the Cannonball Tree, which fitted perfectly into a passage of dialogue that included some naval officers. The following day my wife and I took our daughters to visit Kew…

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