Monthly Archives: March 2014

The Gutter Press

The Gutter Press

If you think today’s tabloids sometimes overstep the mark when it comes to personal abuse and dubious news gathering practices then you should try reading a Restoration broadsheet. They pulled no punches when it came to attacking their rivals and their concern for the facts was highly cavalier. The newspaper business was just beginning when Charles came to the throne in 1660 but by the time he died in 1685 it was already a national obsession. Between 1679 and 1682, for instance, no fewer than forty different titles were published, mainly by one-man bands. The English love of gossip and…

Treasures of the Thames

Treasures of the Thames

When Lady Bette made her dash for freedom across London Bridge on Monday 7 November 1681 it was a seething morass of carts and coaches, horsemen and tradesmen, pedestrians and pigs, all squeezing between the palatial houses and the luxury shops which lined both sides of the cramped roadway. The congestion had become so bad that just a few years later most of the dwellings were demolished and rebuilt so the street could be widened. Despite all the noise and bustle the bridge was still a highly desirable address. Many of the houses had ‘pent-houses’ built above them. A pent-house…

The weather in the late 17th century

The weather in the late 17th century

What was the weather like? It’s the age old question we always ask of anyone returning from distant parts but if your journey has taken you to the 17th century it’s not so easy to answer. Detailed recording of temperatures, wind speeds, precipitation, and atmospheric pressure only really starts from the 1850s onwards[i]. But weather is important. It is, quite literally, the atmosphere of a book. Take the fog out of BLEAK HOUSE or the heat out of HEART OF DARKNESS and the story wouldn’t be the same. This is also true for historical non-fiction but here there is the added…

‘Lady Bette and the Murder of Mr Thynn

‘Lady Bette and the Murder of Mr Thynn

This is the true story of fourteen year old heiress Lady Bette, who is tricked into marrying Thynn, a dissolute and sinister fortune hunter. Weeks later Thynn is killed in the street by hired hit-men. But who is behind the murder?

“expertly explored…fascinating” Christopher Hirst INDEPENDENT 14 March 2014

“the stuff of gothic romance…in this dashing revival of the case” Iain Finlayson TIMES 22 March 2014

“as wild a ride through Restoration England as one could hope to get….an intriguing, heart-breaking story” Leah Rhyne BOOKSHOTS

Lady Bette’s Playlist

Lady Bette's Playlist

Henry Purcell Henry Purcell was the rave musician of his day writing operas, incidental music for the theatre, songs, anthems, chamber music and much more. Like Mozart he was a youthful genius composing from the age of nine and also like Mozart he died young, in his mid thirties. He was brilliantly original, handsome and charismatic. Ecstatic audiences used to shower him with gold at the end of his performances. He was in his early twenties when Lady Bette was in her teens and there was no way she wouldn’t have been a devoted fan. He was furiously productive and…