Judy the Obscure

“I’ve yet to read a biography of Charles Dickens or D H Lawrence which even mentions that they didn’t do the dusting.”

I’ve recently read Francesca Wade’s terrific group biography Square Haunting: Five Women, Freedom and London Between the Wars. The book features Dorothy L Sayers (I’m a huge fan), Virginia Woolf, Eileen Power and Jane Ellen Harrison and Hilda Doolitte, who all lived in Mecklenburgh Square at different times.

One thing that struck me while I was reading Square Haunting was how much the five women relied on other women as servants, housekeepers and nannies. This led me to think about the question of women and domesticity both then and now in my recent blog, Judy the Obscure. You can read Judy the Obscure here.

“The Suffragette who beat Win C”

“So many histories about the suffrage campaigners stop at the point when their involvement in the campaign came to an end.”

Inspired by a postcard written by former suffragette Theresa Garnett in 1954, which I recently added to my collection, I’ve written a blog about her post-suffragette career. Garnett is the suffragette who famously attacked Winston Churchill at Bristol’s Temple Meads Railway station in 1909. You can read “The suffragette who beat Win C”: Theresa Garnett and the International Alliance of Women here.

Novel Conversations with Helen Hollick

One of the characters from Death Makes No Distinction, Paul who assists Dan’s adopted father Noah Foster in the eighteenth-century boxing academy Noah runs, has been having a Novel Conversation with Helen Hollick – and I got the chance to select guests for my ideal dinner party. With Mary Wollstonecraft, Chris Packham, William Morris and other heroes of mine I think it would be a brilliant evening – though the catering might be a challenge as it would range from carnivore to vegetarian to vegan! You can read Novel Conversations with Paul Mattox here.




On the London Book Trail with Dan Foster

In this article for Book Trail, the Literary Travel website, you can discover more about the locations in Death Makes No Distinction: A Dan Foster Mystery. The adventure takes Dan from the slums of St Giles to the mansions of the west end, and the Trail includes an interactive map. You can follow the Book Trail here.  I’ve also written about the book’s settings and how I researched the London of the eighteenth century. You can read Researching Dan Foster’s London here.

(Pic: Dr Johnson’s House)


Writing in the Past

“We talk about why she loves writing in the past, how she makes it authentic, and how thoroughly she plots a story before she’ll tell it.”

I recently talked with Dan Simpson of the award-winning Writers’ Routine podcast about why I love writing about the past, and the joys and challenges of writing fiction, non fiction and biography. You can listen to the podcast here.

Four Suffrage Books Reviewed in The Local Historian

The British Association for Local History has very generously made all issues of its journal, The Local Historian, available to view free of charge. The January 2020 issue contains my review of four books on local women’s suffrage campaigns published by Pen and Sword. The books cover Halifax, Bristol, Scotland and Liverpool. Not only can you browse past issues on the BALH website, you can read the review here.




Picture Credit: The Women’s Library on Flickr, No Known Copyright Restrictions

Suffragettes and the Railways

Sadly, we are unable to travel anywhere by train at the moment, but during the suffrage campaign the railway network was a vital resource for campaigners. In a three part article published on my blog this month I explore the ways in which the rail network influenced the campaign for votes for women.

“Cheap and Easy Railway Traffic”: Suffragettes and the Railways Part 1  How trains helped keep the suffrage organisations running, made it possible for militants carry out their attacks, and how they were sites for violent encounters between suffragettes and politicians.

“Cheap and Easy Railway Traffic”: Suffragettes and the Railways, Part 2: The Battle to Free Mrs Pankhurst How the Glasgow to London train became the focus of attempts to rescue Mrs Pankhurst from the police.

“Cheap and easy railway traffic”: Suffragettes and the Railways, Part 3: Arson on the Railways How the suffragettes took their militant fight for the vote onto the railways.


Picture Credit: The Women’s Library on Flickr, No Known Copyright Restrictions

Writing a Successful Series 

“As a writer and a reader, I think what’s important is that the main character is appealing and interesting.”

I contributed to SilverWood Books’s fascinating article “Five Secrets to a Successful Series” along with Wendy Percival who writes the wonderful Esme Quentin genealogy mysteries. You can read the article here





Inspirational Women for International Women’s Day 2020

It’s International Women’s Day on 8 March 2020 and I’ve been thinking about the women who inspired me. On Friday 6 March I was at the unveiling of a Blue Plaque to one very inspirational woman – Bristol-born suffragette Emmeline Pethick Lawrence. She was brought up in Weston-super-Mare and the Plaque was placed on her childhood home, Lewisham House, 80 Bristol Road Lower, Weston-super-Mare.

Afterwards, I spoke at a panel event which was part of Weston-super-Mare Literature Festival. Writer and explorer Jacki Hill-Murphy told us all about some remarkable women travellers, including Isabella Bird whose biography she’s just written. Biographer Kathryn Atherton, author of Suffragette Planners and Plotters: The Pankhurst/Pethick-Lawrence Story, shared Emmeline Pethick Lawrence’s remarkable story with us.

I gave a short talk about one of my own Inspirational Women – Mary Wollstonecraft. The text of the talk, in which I explain why she is, for me, such an Inspirational Woman, is available on my blog here.

Death Makes No Distinction wins IndieBrag Medallion

I’m thrilled that Death Makes No Distinction: A Dan Foster Mystery is a BRAG Medallion Honoree. That means the novel has been through a rigorous evaluation process looking at elements such as plot, characters and writing. Only 20-25% of the books IndieBrag considers achieve the award, so it feels like Dan is in good company! You can find out more about IndieBrag here.




Giants and Geniuses

“The pressure of all these hyperboles weighs heavily on me. I’m exhausted by all these “mosts” and “greatests” and giants and geniuses. And if I choose someone less well known, I don’t want to have to justify my choice of subject by making grandiose claims for them.”

A blog for the Women’s History Network pondering the question of who gets a biography written about them. I’m currently writing about the life of suffrage campaigner Millicent Price (nee Browne). Millicent is not particularly well known. So why did I choose to write about her and not one of the more famous suffrage activists? Find out in Giants and Geniuses here.

Death Makes No Distinction – the new Dan Foster Mystery

The third Dan Foster Mystery, Death Makes No Distinction, was published by SilverWood Books on 20 September 2019.

When two women at opposite ends of the social scale are brutally murdered, Principal Officer Dan Foster of the Bow Street Runners is determined to get to the bottom of both cases. But as his enquiries take him into both the richest and the foulest places in London, Dan is forced to face a shocking new reality when the people he loves are targeted by a shadowy and merciless adversary…

For more information, see the Death Makes No Distinction page.