Deborah Swift writes about the background to a scene in her latest book, The Silkworm Keeper: a cruel punishment carried out on women in 17th-century Italy. In my new novel, The Silkworm Keeper, there is a scene in which the sculptor Gianlorenzo Bernini sends a servant to slash the face of his unfaithful lover, Costanza […]
Author Deborah Swift embarks on an adventure in the South China Seas to review Tom Williams’s reissued novel, The White Rajah, and finds much to enjoy. I’d never heard of James Brooke before reading Tom Williams’s excellent biographical novel, so I have been educated as well as entertained. Set at the beginning of the 19th […]
There were many ways to resist the Nazi regime. Deborah Swift tells Historia about a quiet, but very effective, form of resistance which she came across while researching her new book, The Lifeline, set in Norway and Shetland during the Second World War. I’ve always been interested in the French Resistance, but when I was […]
Deborah Swift came across an intriguing area of research when working on her latest novel based on the lives of the women who appear in Samuel Pepys’s Diary, Entertaining Mr Pepys, set in 1666. Among the records we have on the Great Fire of London, there’s one topic which was something of a beast to […]
Exactly 350 years ago, on 31 May, 1669, Samuel Pepys stopped writing his diary and our intimate view of life in London in the 17th century was suddenly cut short, writes novelist Deborah Swift. She tells Historia what we’re missing as a result.
According to folklore, February is the time that birds begin to mate, and the first signs of Spring appear. As was normal in earlier periods, the arrival of Spring was expressed in terms of the feast-day of a saint; in this case, one of two early Roman martyrs, both named Valentinus, who died on 14 […]
Deborah Swift explores how the plague was understood and treated in 17th century London. Today, people have widely variable responses to disease and its cure. I don’t think I’m alone in having friends who show hypochondriac tendencies, who use ‘alternative’ or even quack medicines, or who are convinced that a random event, real or supernatural, has […]
Four of my novels have been set in the seventeenth century, and for all of them I have used Pepys’ Diary as an integral part of my research process. In the process, I became fascinated by the women who appear as vague figures in the background, between the lines, always overshadowed by Pepys’ ebullient presence. […]