Elizabeth Chadwick remembers telling herself a story about fairies at the age of three. Throughout her childhood she continued to entertain herself with verbal tales of the imagination and it wasn't until her teens when she developed a crush on a tall, dark handsome knight in a TV programme that she began to write her stories down. Having completed her first 500 page novel at 16 (to this day languishing in a drawer), she decided that writing historical fiction was going to be her career. A further 16 years of working in supermarkets and doing the mother to small children job ensued while she honed her craft, sent off novels and received rejections. However all that changed when she was taken on by a leading London literary agency Blake Friedmann and her 8th crack at the market, The Wild Hunt, was accepted for publication. The Wild Hunt went on to win a Betty Trask award, presented by HRH The Prince of Wales, and to be translated into 16 languages.
Since Then, Elizabeth has written a further 21 novels, and been shortlisted 5 times for the Romantic Novelists' Association Major Award for mainstream fiction. In 2010 The Scarlet Lion was nominated by Richard Lee, founder of the Historical Novel Society as one of his top ten historical fiction works of the decade. In 2011 To Defy A King won the Romantic Novelists Association Best Historical Novel of the Year. Elizabeth is currently busy writing a trilogy about Eleanor of Aquitaine, which she hopes will shed a fresh light on this iconic medieval queen.
Elizabeth Fremantle worked in women's magazines for some years before enrolling to study English and Creative Writing at Birkbeck and now writes novels set in the tudor period. QUEEN'S GAMBIT is about Henry VIII's sixth wife Katherine Parr, a canny political operator at a time of great upheaval, and SISTERS OF TREASON (May 2014) tells the heartrending story of Lady Jane Grey's two sisters, girls who found themselves at the heart of the struggle for the succession. A third novel (2015) will be about 'the decadent' Penelope Devereux, sister of the erstwhile Earl of Essex, described by James I as 'a fair woman with a black soul' and who was no stranger to scandal. Elizabeth lives North West London with her children and two poodles.
Laurie Graham is the otherwise unemployable author of twelve dark, social comedies and with her most recent, A Humble Companion, has fulfilled a long-time ambition to write about the 18th and 19th centuries. She is currently working on a novel with a Nelsonian theme which will be published by Quercus in 2013. She also blogs at http://www.lauriegraham.com/blog usually on some aspect of books and writing.
She has four children, nine grandchildren, and lives in Dublin with her American husband.
Lucy's first book, published by Viking for Penguin is the forthcoming Georgian London. She also writes for teenagers, and her first novel for the Young Adult market is scheduled for publication by Chicken House Books in June 2013. It’s a detective story featuring a teenage girl in her first job, whose boss has an eery heritage and some remarkable body art. The race is on to find out what makes us human. Lucy lives with her husband and terrier down a half-hidden alley in the City of London, where she writes listening to the seagulls and snatches of conversation from the street below. She blogs at www.georgianlondon.com
Joan Lennon was born in Canada long enough ago to have experienced history first hand. She has lived in Scotland most of her adult life. She has a PhD from St Andrews University and has endeavoured unsucessfully to get her 4 sons to address her as Doctor Mummy.
Her medieval series for 8-12 year olds, The Wickit Chronicles, follows the adventures of a boy called Pip with the voice of an angel and a delightful though dangerous-to-know gargoyle (technically a grotesque) called Perfect. In her Victorian series, The Slightly Jones Mysteries, also for 8-12s, her heroine's ambition is to be as great a detective as Mr Sherlock Holmes, and no baffling clues, mad scientists, Egyptian mummies or Scottish ghosts are going to stop her.
The only question now is which historical period to choose next?
Kate Lord Brown
Kate Lord Brown grew up in the wild and beautiful Devon countryside. After studying philosophy at Durham University and art history at the Courtauld Institute of Art, she worked as an international art consultant. Her debut novel 'The Beauty Chorus' was inspired by the many hours she spent on airfields in the UK, and the experiences of pilots in her family during WW2. Her second novel about the Spanish Civil War, 'The Perfume Garden', draws upon the years she lived in Spain. Kate has just completed a MA in Creative Writing with the Manchester Writing School, and she lives with her pilot husband and young family in the Middle East.
Karen Maitland lives in the medieval city of Lincoln and has a doctorate in psycholinguistics. Her first medieval thriller, Company of Liars, was set at the time of the Black Death in 1348. This was followed by The Owl Killers, about the beguinages, the medieval cities of women. The Gallows Curses takes place during in the reign of King John and Falcons of Fire and Ice, a dark thriller, is set in Portugal during the Inquisition and Iceland at the time of the Reformation. She is published by Michael Joseph/Penguin. Karen is also one of six historical crime writers known as the Medieval Murderers – Philip Gooden, Susannah Gregory, Michael Jecks, Bernard Knight and Ian Morson – who together write an annual joint murder-mystery novel, including The Sacred Stone, Hill of Bones and The First Murder, published by Simon & Schuster.
Clare was inspired to start writing when she discovered that her first subject, Eglantyne Jebb, the founder of Save the Children (where Clare used to work), confessed how little she cared about individual children, ‘the little wretches’. Maternity leave gave Clare the perfect opportunity to find out more. The resulting book, The Woman Who Saved the Children, won the Daily Mail Biographers’ Club prize.
Clare’s next subject, the passionately patriotic Christine Granville, Britain’s first female special agent of WWII, presented her own challenges, having been well trained not to leave a paper trail. Fortunately Christine also liked to tell a good story and inspired several of the men who adored her to tell her story too. The Spy Who Loved was published in 2012 to critical acclaim.
Clare is a regular speaker at literary events and on radio including the Today programme, and Women’s Hour. She lives in Essex with her husband and three daughters.
Louisa Young is the author of My Dear I Wanted to Tell You (HarperCollins), set between 1908 and 1919, a story of love, death and the origins of maxillo-facial reconstructive surgery in World War One.
She has also written The Book of the Heart (Flamingo), a cultural history of that most emblematic organ, and A Great Task of Happiness (republished 2012), a biography of her grandmother the sculptor Kathleen Scott, widow of Captain Scott of the Antarctic.
Her first novel, Babylove, was listed for the Orange Prize.
As half of Zizou Corder she has co-written five children's novels with her daughter, including the Lionboy trilogy, which is published in 36 language.
She read history at Trinity College, Cambridge, and lives in London, where she is working on the sequel to My Dear I Wanted to Tell You.
History Girl Reserves
Because we post every day of the month, we sometimes run into problems when one of our number has a work or domestic or health emergency. So we have lined up a wonderful cohort of Reservists who will be with us from time to time. They kindly write "anytime posts" which we keep in a bank until we need one to fill a gap.
Maria McCann is the author of As Meat Loves Salt (Flamingo, 2001/Fourth Estate, 2011) which was an Economist Book of the Year and The Wilding (Faber, 2010) which was longlisted for the Orange Prize and a Richard and Judy book club choice. Her third novel (title to be confirmed) will be published by Faber in July 2013. She has contributed to various anthologies, most recently to Why Willows Weep (October 2011) and Out of Chaos: Stories for Our Shared Planet which will appear in the autumn of 2012. Maria holds an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Glamorgan and is a qualified teacher of many years’ experience: for a decade she designed and delivered Creative Writing courses at Strode College in Somerset, leaving Strode at the end of 2010 to become a Fiction Mentor for the Arvon Foundation. Maria is also a reader for the Annette Green Literary Consultancy. Although her own work is mainly as a historical novelist, she retains a keen interest in other kinds of fiction as a reader, writer and tutor. She is also an accredited writing coach.
Susan Price was born in 1955, in the heartland of the industrial Midlands, in Brades Row, Oldbury. Her father had been born in the same house,. When she was four, her family were relocated to a council house near Dudley, which had a bathroom, running water, electric light and an indoor lavatory! She grew up in this house, in which every room had overflowing, floor-to-ceiling bookcases, and still books had to be piled on stairs and windowsills As a child she was a voracious reader, and soon discovered a love of myth, legend and folklore which has lasted her whole life.
Her first book, accepted for publication when she was 16, was The Devil's Piper. Since then she has published about 60 books, ranging from nursery tales to 'cross-over' novels for Young and Not-So-Young-Adults.
Among her best known books are The Ghost Drum, for which she won the Carnegie Medal in 1987, and The Sterkarm Handshake, which won her The Guardian Children's Fiction Award in 1997.
She has recently begun to publish her back list as ebooks, for Amazon’s Kindle, and blogs with other independent authors at Authors Electric: Do Authors Dream of Electric Books? http://authorselectric.blogspot.co.uk
Ann has been writing fiction for children of all ages since 1974. She has always been fascinated by history and archaeology, and is particularly interested in the lives of ordinary people in the past. She is one of the trio of Historical House (Usborne) writers - the other two being Adele Geras and Linda Newbery. In recent years she has written four young adult novels for Walker Books. Alice in Love & War is set during the English Civil War. No Shame, No Fear (which was shortlisted for both the Guardian and Whitbread Awards), Forged in the Fire and Seeking Eden are about the persecution of the Quakers in the 17th century.
Ann comes from south-east London, but she and her husband have lived in Shropshire for many years. They have two grown-up children.
Elizabeth Laird was born in New Zealand of Scottish parents. She has lived in Ethiopia, Malaysia, Iraq, Lebanon and Austria and now lives in Britain with her husband, David McDowall, who is also a writer. They divide their time between London and Edinburgh.
Elizabeth Laird has won many awards, including The Children's Book Award, and has been shortlisted five times for the Carnegie Medal and many other awards. Some of her books are set in contemporary Britain, while others tackle modern issues in the Middle East and Africa. Her historical novels cover topics as diverse as the Crusades, war in Abyssinia, Nelson's navy and the Killing Times in Scotland. Her work has been translated into more than twenty languages.
Rosemary Hayes lives in rural Cambridgeshire with her husband and a variety of animals. Her first novel, ‘Race Against Time’, was runner-up for the Kathleen Fidler Award in 1988 and since then she has written more than forty books for children.
Her most recent historical novel, ‘The Blue Eyed Aborigine’ retells one of the most extraordinary – and violent - events in Australia’s history.
As well as writing stories, Rosemary is a reader for a well known Author’s Advisory Service and runs creative writing workshops for both adults and children.