Monthly Archives: March 2017

The Humanist North

Illuminated Manuscripts

University of Glasgow Library

Blog post by Wiktoria Muryn, MLitt Renaissance Art History student on placement in Special Collections.

There are many historical myths about the medieval period. We have all heard stories of the strictly devout society, despotic rulers and the daily grime and misery that reigned over Europe for almost five hundred years. Then, we were told, came the glorious Italian Renaissance, and soon the light of classical learning and beauty shone down onto the Dark Ages. However, a selection of manuscripts and early printed books from Special Collections proves that the relationship between the Middle Ages and the Renaissance is much more intricate than that.

MS Hunter 206

MS Hunter 231: Plato, Seneca, Aristotle

During my placement in Special Collections I embarked on a study of MS Hunter 206 – a classical miscellany from the library of Raphael de Mercatellis (1437-1508), a Flemish bastard-made-nobleman and eventually an abbot in the mercantile…

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The First Blast of the Trumpet by Marie Macpherson

Paul Bennet gives The First Blast of the Trumpet his Highest Recommendation 4.8 stars!

Historical Fiction reviews

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I attended Knox Presbyterian Church in Detroit, MI when I was a young; indeed it was the church in which I was married, so, reading about the life of John Knox seemed like an interesting thing to do.  What I found, in The First Blast of the Trumpet, was far more than just a historical fiction biography.  Scotland in the mid-16th century was filled with religious and political turmoil.  It was an era of burgeoning church reform; building on the Lutheran reformation in Germany.  It was also a time when Henry VIII of England wanted Scotland for his own.  In this turbulent atmosphere the author has produced a wonderfully crafted tale; one that propels the reader into a world where the Church is beginning to lose it’s grip on the populace; a world where Scotland is struggling to maintain its independence; a world where the reader experiences life in a…

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Authenticity in historical fiction (VI)

Carolyn Hughes Author

In this, my final blog post on the ways in which an historical novelist can achieve authenticity in their writing, I am completing my previous post looking at how to introduce a sense of “otherness” into an historical novel.

Superstition, in particular, but also a belief in charms and spells and in the possibility of monsters, are elements of the “other” that I have found I can incorporate naturally into my stories.

midsummer bonfireThe traditions and rituals of the Midsummer Eve celebrations are important in both Fortune’s Wheel and in the second “Meonbridge Chronicle” that I am currently writing. When bonfires (“bonefires”) were lit across a village, they provided a focus for the merrymaking but also had a superstitious purpose.

Yesterday evening the customary Midsummer bonfires were set around the village, for the flames to ward off evil spirits and the smoke to purify the air. Fortune’s Wheel, p 19

Superstition…

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From delusions of greatness to insanity – the sad story of James Hepburn

ANNA BELFRAGE

(c) Scottish Borders Council; Supplied by The Public Catalogue FoundationThere are some fates that remain forever ingrained in your mind, impossible to forget. One such fate is that of the glamorous Earl of Bothwell, Scottish nobleman, husband to the flamboyant Mary Queen of Scots. It seems to me James Hepburn was larger than life from the moment he entered it, and to have all that vibrant energy , all that swaggering maleness reduced to an insane wreck chained to a post feels wrong, somehow.

I’m not saying James Hepburn didn’t have something coming his way – of course he did. Men can’t go about the world, ordering it to fit their purposes, without there being a price to pay. Hang on a minute; quite a few men do, don’t they? And quite a few of those power brokers never end up caged like a beast. But James Hepburn did, and all because his youthful indiscretions finally caught up with…

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Catherine Hokin: Historical Fiction Masterclass

Writing historical fiction

Scottish Writers' Centre

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Back in January, the SWC was lucky enough to welcome along writer Catherine Hokin for a masterclass in writing historical fiction. Catherine’s first novel, Blood and Roses – which focuses on the life of medieval queen Margaret of Anjou – was published in 2016 and in addition to being a novelist, Catherine is also a member of author collective The History Girls and a book reviewer and contributor to the Historical Writers’ Association. We can’t think of anyone better placed to guide us through the joys and difficulties of penning historical fiction!

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