Available from all good bookshops as well as online.
Coming soon! February 2024
William Marshal’s Wife. Isabel de Clare, Woman of Influence Published by Pen and Sword
Isabel de Clare, the descendant of kings, dukes and freebooters, was one of the wealthiest heiresses in Henry II’s kingdom thanks to the ambitions of her father Richard, Strongbow, de Clare and his marriage to Aoife, daughter of the last king of Leinster. Nature gave her beauty and intelligence. Destiny made her a key figure in the history of Ireland, England, Wales and Normandy. Isabel’s role as a daughter, wife, mother and countess in her own right is the story of medieval aristocratic women and the power that they could wield. Married to a complete stranger when she was just eighteen on the orders of Richard the Lionheart, she found love in the arms of William Marshal – known as the greatest knight who ever lived. Together they established powerbases in Ireland and in Wales, beat off their foes; negotiated the perils of serving King John; and built a powerful kinship network. Marshal declared, ‘I have no claim to anything save through her.’ She was a peerless wife and remarkable woman who played the political game alongside her husband serving successive Plantagenet monarchs, consolidating and extending her inheritance as well as giving birth to ten children. Like her mother before her and her brood of Marshall daughters after her, she was a prize, not a pawn, who knew how to balance her role as a wife and mother alongside the brutal politics of the period.
The Kingmaker’s Women Anne Beauchamp and her Daughters, Isabel and Anne Neville published by Pen and Sword in 2023
They were supposed to be pious, fruitful and submissive. The wealthiest women in the kingdom, Anne Beauchamp and her daughters were at the heart of bitter inheritance disputes. Well educated and extravagant, they lived in style and splendour but were forced to navigate their lives around the unpredictable clashes of the Cousins’ War. Were they pawns or did they exert an influence of their own? The twists and turns of Fate as well as the dynastic ambitions of Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick saw Isabel married without royal permission to the Yorkist heir presumptive, George Duke of Clarence. Anne Neville was married to Edward of Lancaster, the only son of King Henry VI when her father turned his coat. One or the other was destined to become queen. Even so, the Countess of Warwick, heiress to one of the richest titles in England, could not avoid being declared legally dead so that her sons-in-law could take control of her titles and estates. Tragic Isabel, beloved by her husband, would experience the dangers of childbirth and on her death, her midwife was accused of witchcraft and murder. Her children both faced a traitor’s death because of their Plantagenet blood. Anne Neville became the wife of Richard, Duke of Gloucester having survived a forced march, widowhood and the ambitions of Isabel’s husband. When Gloucester took the throne as Richard III, she would become Shakespeare’s tragic queen. The women behind the myth suffered misfortune and loss but fulfilled their domestic duties in the brutal world they inhabited and fought by the means available to them for what they believed to be rightfully their own. The lives of Countess Anne and her daughters have much to say about marriage, childbirth and survival of aristocratic women in the fifteenth century.
Medieval Royal Mistresses. Mischievous Women who Slept with Kings and Princes. Published by Pen and Sword 2022
Marriage for Medieval kings was about politics, power and the provision of legitimate heirs. Mistresses were about love, lust and possession. It was a world that included kidnap, poison, murder, violation, public shaming and accusations of witchcraft. Ambition and quick wits as well as beauty were essential attributes for any royal mistress. Infamy, assassination and imprisonment awaited some royal mistresses who tumbled from favour whilst others disappeared into obscurity or respectable lives as married women and were quickly forgotten. Meet Nest of Wales, born in turbulent times, whose abduction started a war; Alice Perrers and Jane Shore labelled ‘whores’ and ‘wantons’; Katherine Swynford who turned the medieval world upside down with a royal happy-ever-after and Rosamund Clifford who left history and stepped into legend. Discover how serial royal womanisers married off their discarded mistresses to bind their allies close. Explore the semi-official roles of some mistresses; the illegitimate children who became kings; secret marriage ceremonies; Edith Forne Sigulfson and Lady Eleanor Talbot who sought atonement through religion as well as the aristocratic women who became the victims of royal lust. Most of the shameful women who shared the beds of medieval kings were silenced, besmirched or consigned to the footnotes of a patriarchal worldview but they negotiated paths between the private and public spheres of medieval court life – changing history as they went.
The Son that Elizabeth I Never Had: The Adventurous Life of Robert Dudley’s Illegitimate Son published by Pen and Sword, 2022
Sir Robert Dudley, the handsome ‘base born’ son of Elizabeth I’s favourite, was born amidst scandal and intrigue. The story of his birth is one of love, royalty and broken bonds of trust. He was at Tilbury with the Earl of Leicester in 1587; four years later he was wealthy, independent and making a mark in Elizabeth’s court; he explored Trinidad, searched for the fabled gold of El Dorado and backed a voyage taking a letter from the queen to the Emperor of China. He took part in the Earl of Essex’s raid on Cadiz and was implicated in the earl’s rebellion in 1601 but what he wanted most was to prove his legitimacy. Refusing to accept the lot Fate dealt him after the death of the Queen, he abandoned his family, his home and his country never to return. He carved his own destiny in Tuscany as an engineer, courtier, shipbuilder and seafarer with the woman he loved at his side. His sea atlas, the first of its kind, was published in 1646. The Dell’Arcano del Mare took more than twelve years to write and was the culmination of a lifetime’s work. Robert Dudley, the son Elizabeth never had, is the story of a scholar, an adventurer and Elizabethan seadog that deserves to be better known.
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2014 High Road to Harraby Hill. Carlisle: Bookcase – a history of Carlisle’s gallows hill and the people who passed across its contours.
2013 Riding by Moonlight. Carlisle: Bookcase – history and short stories of the English West Marches inspired by traditional ballads.
2011 A series of walks written and narrated by me for GPSmycity.com including York, Carlisle and Canterbury.
2007 Literacy for QTLS. Longman Pearson
2005 Basic Skills Through Football Entry Level 3, Level 1 and Level 2. Coachwise in association with the Football Association
2005-2006 Understanding Sports. A series of eight schools books commissioned by Coachwise 1st4sport.