Behind the Scenes | The King Killer’s Wife

On the night of Lucy Hutchinson’s 29th birthday, her husband signed the death warrant of Charles I, thus sealing the fate of England’s monarchy — and her family. King Charles I was executed on January 30th, 1649, ushering in eleven years of England’s Commonwealth.

For Lucy and her family, the war had tested them to breaking point. Her beloved brother Allen was a declared Royalist, and the conflict was not just on England’s battlefields, it was in their home.

Discovering Lucy’s memoirs and notebooks in the basement of Nottingham Castle that inspired me to write The Lydiard Chronicles.

I opened my book, Written in Their Stars, with Lucy and John after he signed the King’s warrant:


A dying candle flame trembled and smoked, casting distracting shadows across her journal. Luce cupped the wax stub as she scratched thoughts from her drying quill. A draft upon the creaking of the chamber door extinguished the light.

Rex debet mori

Her final words were scrawled by blood-red firelight.

The king must die.


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Happy Birthday Lucy Hutchinson – and thank you.

Thinking of Lucy Hutchinson with gratitude today. I hope she would have enjoyed seeing her life — and the rest of the family, including her beloved John — written in The Lydiard Chronicles. I think she might. She did love a bit of prose. Here’s a poem she jotted down:

When love doth come
If it comes powerfully
It leaves no room
For other cares

Luce Hutchinson’s mother, Lucy St.John, dreamed of a prophecy that her daughter would be of eminence. She saw a star fall from the skies and land in her hand as she walked in the gardens of the Tower of London. Her daughter was born there, on this day in 1630. This theme of destiny is woven through Written in their Stars, and the St.John family motto, Data Fata Secutus, roughly translates as “Following his alloted fate”. On the night of Luce’s 29th birthday, her husband signed the death warrant of Charles I, thus sealing the fate of England’s monarchy — and the family.

Behind the Scenes | Royal Funeral Effigies in Westminster Abbey

Fifty feet above the floor of Westminster Abbey, within the medieval Triforium, The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Galleries house an extraordinary collection of the Abbey’s treasures.
When researching my novel The Godmother’s Secret, I was fortunate to spend time in the Abbey and Galleries while it was closed, with no one else around. The atmosphere was palpable, and when I reached the repository of the funeral and wax effigies, I was entranced.
Mostly cast from death masks, these mesmerising likenesses impose an extraordinary feeling of meeting history face to face. Generally created close to the physical dimensions of the person it represented, the effigy accompanied the coffin in the funeral cortege and remained on display after the body was interred, often in full coronation robes.
But there are also the captivating personal details. Queen Mary, desperate for a child, carved in wood with a swollen stomach. Was it a phantom pregnancy or a cankerous tumour? Close by, her sister Elizabeth’s corset, surviving from 1603, was from her own now-lost effigy. Her impossibly small waist provides a stinging contrast of fashion and beauty to Mary.
More photos and details are in my January 18th “Behind the Scenes” newsletter – sign up is over to the right!

The Missing Princes and The Godmother’s Secret

The Historical Novel Society said of my novel, “The historical veracity is impeccable”.

The Richard III Society Bulletin wrote “An extremely well-written book with depth and complexity…this is the best book I’ve read in ages!”

When I set out to write The Godmother’s Secret, I committed to going back to as many original sources as possible, as well as reading contemporary Tudor writing, so I could understand the politics through the ages. It was a fascinating research project.
Then, I joined Philippa Langley’s “Missing Princes” Project and was fortunate to exchange ideas with the researchers as we combed archives around the world looking for a clue to their fate.
So, if you knew what happened to the missing princes, would you tell, or forever keep the secret?

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