Help us raise funds for a Blue Plaque for Bristol’s Pioneering Suffrage Women!

This year is the one hundredth anniversary of the granting of votes to some British women, and like other cities and towns Bristol is celebrating the local women whose hard work, dedication and sacrifices made it possible for women to vote today. The Bristol and West of England Society for Women’s Suffrage was one of the earliest women’s suffrage groups. It was set up when Florence Davenport Hill (1828/9–1919) invited a group of like-minded individuals to a meeting at her home, 3 The Mall, on 24 January 1868. Founding members included a number of well-known Bristol reform campaigners, amongst them Agnes Beddoe, Mrs Alfred Brittain, Rev J Estlin Carpenter, Mary Estlin, Mrs Mill Colman, and Lilias Ashworth (from 1869). The Bristol society joined the National Union of Women Suffrage Societies in 1896, and continued campaigning right up until all women won the vote in 1928.

I’m working with the West of England and South Wales Women’s History Network on plans to commemorate this important anniversary for women with Bristol MShed on 30 June 2018. You can find out more about this day of free events here.

And with the help of the Bristol Civic Society Blue Plaques Panel we hope to commemorate the Bristol Society for Women’s Suffrage by installing a Blue Plaque at 3 The Mall, Clifton as a permanent memorial to Bristol’s pioneering suffrage women.

But we need your help to raise the money to pay for it! We’re aiming to raise £700 for the cost of the plaque and its installation.

To make a donation, visit our Just Giving page here.

Bristol Women into Politics – “an insightful overview of the suffragette movement in Bristol”

There’s a review of the talk Professor June Hannam and I did at Bristol MShed on 15 February 2018 by State of the Arts, a website covering arts, culture and politics from cities across England. The talk – “Women, Citizenship and the 1918 Representation of the People Act: Bristol Women in Politics” – explored the background to the Representation of the People Act 1918 which gave some British women the vote, and looked at how Bristol women responded to the new political landscape. The talk was part of the Regional History Centre’s seminar series at MShed. You can read the review at the State of the Arts website here. Find out more about the Regional History Centre, the University of the West of England, here.

The Bristol Magazine picks The Bristol Suffragettes as a “fabulous feminist read”

I was thrilled to see The Bristol Suffragettes included in The Bristol Magazine’s February 2018 round up of reads to coincide with the hundredth anniversary of votes for (some) women – alongside Mary Beard’s Women and Power (which I’ve just read in fact – and it’s a great read!). Find out about the books selected by Bristol Magazine here – opens as PDF document.

Dreadnought South West brings new play to Bristol

Written by Natalie McGrath and directed by Josie Sutcliffe, The Cause centres on an imagined meeting between Mrs Emmeline Pankhurst, leader of the militant suffragettes, and Mrs Millicent Garrett Fawcett, leader of the non-militant suffragists. As part of Bristol Women’s Voice Deeds Not Words programme, Dreadnought will be performing a rehearsed reading and post-show talk on 3 March 2017 at 7.30. Tickets £10 and £6. For further details see this flyer (opens as PDF document). Note: venue has changed, for updates see the Bristol Women’s Voice website. For information about Dreadnought South West, see their website.

Votes for Women 100

What a busy time it’s been commemorating the centenary of Votes for (some) Women! I’ve been on ITV News West Country and BBC Points West talking about the key role Bristol played in the campaign for women’s right to vote – and these radio interviews are still available on catch up:-

The Emma Britton Show, BBC Radio Bristol on 5 February 2018 – a suffragette walking tour in Clifton with Emma. Catch up here – 24 minutes in. Podcast is available for one month after broadcast.

The Marie Lennon Show, BBC Radio Wiltshire on 6 February 2018 – between 9 and 10 am I joined Marie and other guests for a discussion about how far women have achieved equality. Later in the same show there’s a recording of a visit Marie and I made to the site of suffragette arson near Bradford on Avon – that piece is 1.30 in. Catch up here . Podcast is available for one month after broadcast.

And I’m looking forward to more talks and events commemorating Votes for Women 100 – see the Diary page for details.

Photo: filming on a rainy day in Clifton!

The Women Who Built Bristol: Suffragette Victoria Lidiard

I have written about Bristol suffragette Victoria Lidiard for The Women Who Built Bristol by Jane Duffus. The book is a fundraiser for Bristol Women’s Voice and is published by Tangent Books. With entries on 250 inspiring women, the book is a compendium of the women who helped to shape Bristol into the vibrant city it is today. There’s a launch event at St George’s (off Park Street, Bristol) on 26 February from 6 pm to 8 pm, when the book will be on sale at a special price of £10 (RRP £11.99).



Diamond Tales: A Sneak Preview of the next Dan Foster Mystery

I’m delighted to have taken part in the Discovering Diamonds’s Christmas blog, which ran from 3 to 23 December 2017 and featured stories and articles by a variety of authors, including Helen Hollick (the Jesamiah Acorne series), Alison Morton (the Roma Nova series), Susan Grossey (the Inspector Plank series) and a host of other sparkling authors writing on the theme of “diamonds”.

Diamond Tales included a sneak preview of the next Dan Foster novel! You can read the preview here.


Experiments on the Poor

“I cannot give you an adequate idea of the wretchedness of an hospital…Everything appeared to be conducted for the accommodation of the medical men and their pupils, who came to make experiments on the poor, for the benefit of the rich.” The Wrongs of Woman: or, Maria, A Fragment, Mary Wollstonecraft

In The Butcher’s Block, Dan Foster encounters a gang of body snatchers. Find out why the sick, destitute and poor hated and feared grave robbers in a guest blog I wrote for the delightful Madame Gilflurt’s Covent Garden Salon. Read Experiments on the Poor.

Blame it on Charles Dickens

“The opening of A Tale of Two Cities said: people have different viewpoints; there is no single way of looking at things.”

I’m delighted to be the author in the spotlight on Hist Fic Saturday for the JaffaReadsToo blog, musing on why I write historical fiction – and blaming it on Charles Dickens! You can read “Why do I write historical fiction?” here.

Bristol – Suffrage City

Anyone who’s enjoyed the suffragette walk in The Bristol Suffragettes might enjoy a short walk that introduces some of the non-militant Bristol women who campaigned for women’s right to vote. The walk takes you around Clifton and is published in the Autumn 2017 issue of Better Bristol, the Bristol Civic Society Magazine. The walk, which only takes an hour, has an accompanying map. As well as the history, you’ll get some lovely views of Bristol from Royal York Crescent, plenty of opportunities to stop for something to eat and drink in Clifton village, and some enticing shops to browse in.  The Suffrage City walk is on page 22 of the  Autumn issue of Better Bristol magazine in this free download (opens as a PDF document).

Commemorating Votes for Women 100

Next year is the one hundredth anniversary of the enfranchisement of (some) women (full franchise equality was not achieved until 1928). It’s a milestone in women’s history and here in Bristol we are planning lots of events to mark the occasion. I recently wrote an article for Local History News (Summer 2017) outlining some of the events in the pipeline, and making suggestions for anyone who is thinking of getting involved in their own area. You can read the article as a pdf or on the British Association for Local History website.


Read Votes for Women 2018 as a pdf document.

Read Votes for Women 2018 on the BALH website.

The Butcher’s Block: A Dan Foster Mystery

“An officer’s been murdered. Murdered and cut up for sale to the anatomy schools. It was a professional quartering. I want to know who has the skill to do that.”

The Butcher’s Block, the second full-length Dan Foster Mystery, is published on 3 August 2017.

The novel sees Dan on the trail of the killers of a Bow Street officer and pitches him into the murky world of the body snatchers. But the body-snatching racket soon leads to something bigger and much more dangerous. In a treacherous underworld of vicious pugilists, ruthless murderers, British spy masters and French agents, Dan must tread carefully – or meet the same terrible fate as his fellow-officer.


The Butcher’s Block is available now as an ebook and paperback on Amazon UK and, and in iBooks, on the Kobo Store, and at Barnes and Noble

My Inheritance Book

“There’s no such thing as private property in Nature! The woods and fields belong to the earth, and so do we.”  The Little Grey Men, BB

I’m delighted to be a guest on Rhoda Baxter’s blog talking about my “inheritance book” – that is, a book I’ve inherited from the generation above. I chose one of my favourite childhood reads, The Little Grey Men by BB. It was amazing to revisit the book and realise just how much it has influenced me. It’s definitely due for a re-read! I was also asked to name a book I would leave to future generations, and I chose my copies of William Morris’s The Earthly Paradise which have autograph letters written by the great man himself pasted inside them. Not surprisingly, these are the books that count as my most treasured possessions! You can read My Inheritance Book on Rhoda Baxter’s blog here.


Talking Books with Suzie Grogan

Suzie Grogan has uploaded some of her Talking Books radio shows onto Soundcloud, including the interview I did on Bloodie Bones: A Dan Foster Mystery. You can listen to the show here. Find out about Suzie and her books here, and Talking Books (10 Radio) here.

Bloodie Bones is joint winner of the HNS Indie Award 2016!

WinnerI’m absolutely thrilled to announce that Bloodie Bones: A Dan Foster Mystery is joint winner of the Historical Novel Society Indie Award 2016.

The winners were announced at the Historical Novel Society Conference 2016 in Oxford on 3 September. The HNS Indie Review team reviews around 300 books a year, and from these any books selected as Editor’s Choice automatically go on to the long list for the Award. This year there was a long list of 38 novels, from which a short list of nine authors was selected. Three judges selected a list of four finalists, and two further judges selected the winning title from these. Usually there is a winner and a runner-up, but this year the judges decided to make a joint award.

The joint winners were Bloodie Bones: A Dan Foster Mystery and Fossil Island by Barbara Sjoholm.

Bloodie Bones was also a semi finalist in the M M Bennetts Award for Historical Fiction 2016.