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Thursday, 20 January 2011

Non-Fiction Fave - "The Gunpowder Plot" by Antonia Fraser

"There was a double eclipse in the early Autumn of 1605 - a lunar eclipse on 19th September, followed by an eclipse of the sun in early October........"

I thought I would share with you some of the Non-fiction titles I am using to research my next novel, which is set just after the Gunpowder Plot in the reign of James I.

Subtitled "Terror and Faith in 1605" Antonia Fraser's book "The Gunpowder Plot" on the subject is immensely readable and entertaining. Covering the political machinations and religious divisiveness that lead up to the plot itself, and ending with the anniversary a year later and the anti-catholic bonfires, it tells you all you need to know to really understand "Bonfire Night" as it is celebrated here in Britain.

For the historical novelist there are extracts from letters and papers with sources so that these can be traced for more information. But even better she enables the reader to understand the weaknesses in character which meant that the enterprise would always be doomed for the plotters. It is illustrated with black and white contemporary paintings and engravings, maps and a family tree of the English succession. Very highly recommended.


  1. I have no problem with historical non-fiction for pleasure...if it's written in such a way that it is readable, and I'm finding this to be that way. Similar in it's way to Barbara Tuchman. I'm a fan of yours, and I thank you for recommending this! Am looking forward to Gilded Lily!

  2. Hello John, I'm glad you are enjoying The Gunpowder Plot. Barbara Tuchman is not very well known over in the UK which is a shame as "The March of Folly" is superb and very readable.I have her others on my to-be- read list. Nice to meet you here.

  3. Deborah, unfortunately Goodreads is having a problem separating who is who on these comments. John Mc is my husband. I'm Elli McEldowney, his wife, and the one who has been making these comments and just loved your first book and am waiting for Sadie and Ella to come to the big time in the next book. I'm about finished with the Gunpowder Plot. By the way, she's no longer current, but did you find Rosemary Sutcliffe an author you like speaking of British history? She was introduced to me as an author for young people way back when, but I think I was the one who really just loved what she wrote. So nice to meet and correspond with you!

  4. Hello Elli, what a nuisance about the Goodreads thing. I know who I'm talking too now!I loved Rosemary Sutcliff's Sword Swong and The Lantern Bearers but haven't read any of the others. I must try and get a few more as she is widely regarded as a classic children's writer and I think has about 30 books to her name - what an inspiration!