History by the River is a monthly panel event with a social buzz for lovers of books, history and good beer. It’s a chance to get together with fellow readers and authors to hear about the best new historical writing, then discuss it all over a drink afterwards.
Three acclaimed writers, three remarkable stories, one night only: Elise Valmorbida, Harry Sidebottom & Katherine Clements
Chaired by Antonia Senior
Tuesday 17 April 2018
Elise’s debut novel, Matilde Waltzing, was published in Australia to critical acclaim. The TV President was described by The Times Literary Supplement as ‘luridly entertaining fiction’, and The Winding Stick was reviewed as ‘a literary classic’. Her non-fiction work, The Book of Happy Endings, has been published on four continents in four languages. Elise won the Trailblazer Award (Edinburgh International Film Festival) for her role as producer and script consultant of indie Britfilm Saxon. She wrote ‘The Making of a Guerrilla Film’ story which was published with Saxon the screenplay. Elise teaches creative writing at Central Saint Martins and Arvon.
Maria Vittoria is embroidering a sheet for her dowry trunk.
Her father has gone to find her a husband. He’s taken his mule, a photograph and a pack of food: home-made sopressa sausage, cold polenta, a little flask of wine – no need to take water – the world is full of water.
There are no eligible men in this valley or the next one, and her father will not let her marry just anyone, and now, despite Maria’s years, she is still healthy. Her betrothed will see all that. He’ll be looking for a woman who can do the work.
Maria can do the work. Everyone in the contrà says that.
And the Lord knows Maria will need to be able to work. Fascism blooms as crops ripen, the state craves babies just as the babies cry for food. Maria faces a stony path, but one she will surely climb to the summit.
In this sumptuous and elegant novel you will taste the bigoli co l’arna, touch the mulberry leaves cut finer than organdie, and feel the strain of one woman attempting to keep her family safe in the most dangerous of times.
Harry Sidebottom was brought up in racing stables in Newmarket where his father was a trainer. He had a basket saddle on a donkey before he could walk. He was educated at various schools and universities, including Oxford, where he took his Doctorate in Ancient History at Corpus Christi College. In similar fashion he has taught at various universities including Oxford, where he is now Fellow and Director of Studies in Ancient History at St Benets Hall, and Lecturer in Ancient History at Lincoln College. His main scholarly research interests are Greek culture under the Roman empire and warfare in classical antiquity.
A lone figure stands silhouetted atop the Mausoleum of Hadrian. Behind him, the sun is setting over the centre of the known world. Far below, the river is in full flood. The City of Rome lies spread out before him on the far bank. Footsteps pound up the stairs. He’s been set up. An enemy is closing in; he is cornered. He jumps.
Bruised and battered, he crawls out of the raging river. He is alone and unarmed, without money or friends, trapped in a deadly conspiracy at the heart of the Empire. The City Watch has orders to take him alive; other, more sinister, forces want him dead. As the day dies, he realises he has only 24 hours to expose the conspirators, and save the leader of the world. If the Emperor dies, chaos and violence will ensue. If the Emperor dies, every single person he loves will die.
‘An extraordinarily vivid take on the ancient world. Think of The Killing crossed with Andy McNab crossed with Mary Beard, and you’re there’ David Sexton, Evening Standard
Katherine Clements is a critically acclaimed historical novelist and short story writer. Her debut novel, The Crimson Ribbon, was published in 2014 and her second, The Silvered Heart, in 2015. Both works are set in the seventeenth century and centre on the events and aftermath of English Civil War. Her third novel, The Coffin Path, is out now. Her work has been compared to the likes of Sarah Waters and Daphne du Maurier. Katherine is editor of Historia, the online magazine of the Historical Writers’ Association, and is a member of the HWA committee. She writes for various blogs and websites and particularly enjoys reviewing historical drama on film and TV. She is based in Manchester where she is currently Royal Literary Fund Fellow at Manchester University.
An eerie and compelling ghost story set on the dark wilds of the Yorkshire moors. For fans of The Witchfinder’s Sister or The Silent Companions, this gothic tale will weave its way into your imagination and chill you to the bone.
Maybe you’ve heard tales about Scarcross Hall, the house on the old coffin path that winds from village to moor top. They say there’s something up here, something evil.
Mercy Booth isn’t afraid. The moors and Scarcross are her home and lifeblood. But, beneath her certainty, small things are beginning to trouble her. Three ancient coins missing from her father’s study, the shadowy figure out by the gatepost, an unshakeable sense that someone is watching.
When a stranger appears seeking work, Mercy reluctantly takes him in. As their stories entwine, this man will change everything. She just can’t see it yet.
‘Spine-tingling… the scariest ghost story I have read in a long time’ Barbara Erskine
‘Brooding and full of creeping menace’ Laura Purcell, author of The Silent Companions
‘Like something from Emily Bronte’s nightmares’ Andrew Taylor, author of The Ashes of London
Antonia Senior’s first career was as a journalist. She spent thirteen years on staff at The Times, writing about everything from pensions to particle physics. She left after her second child to try to fulfil a long held ambition: to write historical novels, and has now published three to great critical acclaim, the latest of which is The Tyrant’s Shadow. She writes the odd feature and column still; and reviews historical fiction for The Times.