London, 1666. Elizabeth ‘Bird’ Carpenter has a wonderful singing voice, and music is her chief passion. When her father persuades her to marry horse-dealer Christopher Knepp, she suspects she is marrying beneath her station, but nothing prepares her for the reality of life with Knepp. Her father has betrayed her trust, for Knepp cares only for […]
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 […]
Deb Willet, companion to Elizabeth, the wife of Samuel Pepys, takes centre stage in this intriguing tale of love, espionage and murder in Restoration London. Deb takes the position in Pepys’ household in order to escape from the tyranny of sour-faced Aunt Beth. Deb’s father is in Ireland about his business affairs; her mother deserted […]
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. […]
It’s quite possible that we have reached peak Tudor. Henry VIII’s stinking, gangrenous leg has been endlessly speculated upon, every layer of Elizabeth I’s petticoats has been lifted and thoroughly searched and Anne Boleyn’s execution has been read, learned and inwardly digested from all possible angles. There are even novels that speculate upon what might […]