Sunday, December 16, 2018

Editors Weekly Round-up, December 16, 2018

by the EHFA Editors

Never miss a post on English Historical Fiction Authors. Enjoy this week's round-up.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Heroes of the Dark Ages - Who's yours?

by Matthew Harffy

If I were to ask a group of people to name a hero from the Early Medieval period, the era more commonly known as the Dark Ages, who do you think they might mention? Alfred the Great perhaps? After all, he is the only king to be known as “Great” that Britain has ever produced.

King Alfred the Great

Some might go with that famous warrior king from the end of the period, Harold Godwinson. He will forever be known to all British schoolchildren as the man who rather clumsily got an arrow in his eye at the Battle of Hastings on that most famous of dates, 1066.

Harold has something in his eye on the Bayeux Tapestry

Some people, unsure of what is fact and what is fiction, might even give King Arthur a plug. Now, we don’t even know whether Arthur really existed, and we certainly don’t have any facts about his life or who he was even if we believe he is not purely fictional. And yet, his name is synonymous with Britishness and the distant mist-veiled days of the Dark Ages. He is “the once and future king” who will return to rid us of an invading army when the land most needs him.

A watery tart lobs a sword at Arthur

People who are more knowledgeable of the period’s history, and who are more inclined to turn to learning rather than battle-glory as a sign of greatness, might well mention The Venerable Bede, the Northumbrian monk and scholar who wrote much of what is known of the history of Britain up to his death in the 8th century.

Bede - the grandfather of British history

If they are really into their seventh century history, people might say their hero is King Penda of Mercia, or King Oswald (later Saint Oswald) of Northumbria, but I think those people would be few and far between.

What I can guarantee is that nobody would say that their hero of the Early Medieval period is King Sigebehrt of East Anglia. Well, perhaps I can’t guarantee it, but if someone voted for him, you can be sure they would belong to an extremely niche crowd!

However, to his people, Sigebehrt was every bit the hero.

St. Felix and King Sigebehrt

King Sigebehrt of East Anglia (known later also as Saint Sigebehrt, following his ***SPOILER ALERT*** martyrdom ***SPOILER ALERT***), had been the epitome of the warrior kings of the Anglo-Saxons.

You may well be thinking that it’s no wonder you haven’t heard of some ancient king of a small area of modern-day England. But back in the 7th century, East Anglia was a big deal. It was one of the most powerful kingdoms of Britain, perhaps the most powerful for a time. Indeed, it was powerful enough for its king, Rædwald, to be called by Bede ‘Rex Anglorum’ (King of the Angles, which makes him sound like he was great at trigonometry, but remember that the Angles were the Germanic tribe who gave their name to what would eventually become England). Rædwald was not only able to rule over all the Angles, but also to put those he favoured on the thrones of other kingdoms, as he did with King Edwin of Northumbria.

Replica of the Sutton Hoo helmet

Rædwald is probably the noble buried in the ship beneath the famous mound at Sutton Hoo, and it is likely that Sigebehrt was either his stepson or his nephew. Whatever his relationship to the great king, Sigebehrt was part of the dynasty of the Wuffingas, the ruling family of East Anglia for many decades.

Little is known about Sigebehrt’s early life, save that he was exiled from East Anglia to France. Exile was common at the time for nobles with a claim to the throne. It certainly beats death! In France he became a Christian and was in fact the first English monarch to be baptised before his succession to the throne.

Upon the assassination of Rædwald’s son, Eorpwald, Sigebehrt returned to take the throne of East Anglia. Nothing is known about how he did this, but given the violence prevalent at the time and the fact his prowess in battle was later chronicled, it seems likely he had to fight his way to the top. That he was a Christian wouldn’t have hurt his prospects either, what with Edwin of Northumbria and Eadbald of Kent both having converted to Christianity and having ties to the Frankish rulers, who may well have aided Sigeberht to take the crown.

However he managed it, he was the king by 629 and he promptly went about setting things in motion that would cement Christianity’s place in the kingdom. During his stay in France, Sigeberht had been impressed by the learning found in the religious schools on the Continent. So, after setting up a Burgundian missionary, Felix (yet another Saint!), as Bishop of Dommoc (possibly Dunwich), Sigeberht then secured the future of the Church by establishing a school, based on the model that he had witnessed in France, where boys could be taught reading and writing in Latin.

Saint Fursey (not sure which one he is!)

Furthering the Church’s influence in his kingdom, he then granted the Irish hermit Fursey (yes, another Saint!), a monastery site called Cnobheresburg, most commonly identified as Burgh Castle, near Great Yarmouth.

If it sounds as though Sigebehrt was obsessed with learning and the Church, you wouldn’t be wrong. He was clearly much more interested in the Church than in governing and being a warlord king of the people of East Anglia. We know this, because a few years after attaining the throne, he abdicates power to Ecgric, another of the Wuffingas dynasty, whereby he promptly retires to his monastery at Beodricesworth (Bury St Edmunds).

Now this is where the story gets really interesting, and what drew me to the character in the first place.

In 636 or thereabouts, that most successful of pagan warlords of the age, Penda of Mercia, attacked East Anglia. For some reason the people didn’t think Ecgric was up to the task of defending them, so they went to Beodricesworth and dragged their erstwhile king, Sigebehrt, out from his monastery, that he might save them from the invading Mercians.

Well, the peaceful, Christian Sigebehrt refused to fight, but his ex-subjects were having none of it and he was forced onto the battlefield unarmed and unarmoured to lead his people. I won’t give you details of what happened, but let’s just say that a robe and a cross are not great protection against spears and swords! And you already know he becomes Saint Sigebehrt, after his ***SPOILER ALERT*** martyrdom ***SPOILER ALERT***, so join the dots!

Battles are never pretty

Sigebehrt, might not be the most famous of kings of the Early Medieval period, but he was certainly influential in securing the Church in East Anglia, and his life was definitely interesting enough to spark inspiration in me to write a novel featuring him and his unfortunate end. And if being brave enough to step into the chaos and havoc of a Medieval battlefield without weapons or armour doesn’t make you heroic, I don’t know what does!

Who is your Dark Ages hero or heroine? Leave a comment below. I’d love to read your thoughts.


Matthew Harffy is the author of the Bernicia Chronicles, a series of novels set in seventh century Britain. KILLER OF KINGS, which features Sigebehrt, Ecgric and the battle with Penda is now available in hardback, e-book and audio.

The other books in the series, The Serpent Sword, The Cross and the Curse, Blood and Blade and Warrior of Woden are available on Amazon, Kobo, Google Play, and all good bookstores.

Twitter: @MatthewHarffy
Facebook: MatthewHarffyAuthor

King Alfred: Odejea [GFDL ( or CC BY-SA 3.0 (]
King Arthur: Newell Convers Wyeth [Public domain]
Death of Harold: Myrabella [Public domain or CC0], from Wikimedia Commons
The Venerable Bede: The original uploader was Timsj at English Wikipedia. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Stained glass, Old Felixstowe Church: Copyright Andrew Hill
Sutton Hoo helmet: British Museum [CC BY-SA 2.5 ( or Public domain]
Saint Fursey: Public Domain
La victoire de Tullus Hostilius sur les forces de Veies et de Fidena ---- Giuseppe Cesari [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Advice from a Lady of Distinction

by Maria Grace

Clothing made a (Wo)man
Ackermann's 1809

During the Regency era, fairly strict rules defined how a lady of quality should dress according to the time of day and her anticipated activities.  Theoretically, one wore Undress in the morning, Half-dress in the afternoon, and Full Dress for (formal) evening events. If it sounds like a gentlewoman had to change clothes several times a day, you’d be right. To be active in society, a Regency era lady had to have the right garment for the right occasion, and that added up to a lot of gowns (and corresponding expense.)

Unfortunately wearing the wrong sort of gown at the wrong time could be a devastating social blunder. Ladies (and gentlemen) were judged by their dress. If you did not dress properly, it was a sure statement about your fortune (or lack thereof) and your place in society. In a very real sense, a man or woman was made by their appearance, for better or worse.

Given the very negative impact dressing improperly could have on a young lady in society,  one could hardly blame said young ladies and their mothers for seeking advice from those who might know better than themselves. Enter ‘A Lady of Distinction’, the esteemed authoress of The Mirror of Graces  (1811). This unnamed woman (women publishing anonymously was common in the era) says of herself in the preface:
These pages were not intentionally at first written for publication, but originally composed by the desire of some female friends, who live at a remote part of the west of England; and who, aware of her consummate knowledge of the world, and experience in all that is honourable in the art of captivation, had applied to her for certain directions on the subject. She indulgently complied with their request, and in the elegant treatise we now present to our readers, gratified her friends with as fine a lesson on PERSONAL and MENTAL accomplishments as could ever flow from the experienced and delicate pen of a woman of VIRTUE and of TASTE.
What better recommendations to heed her advice could we have? Moving on…

Importance of good taste
While good taste has always been, well good, in just about every era, it took on a moral aspect during the Regency era that has a lot in common with a lot of modern standards about dress. We might raise an eyebrow, or comment unfavorably upon the lady who shows up to the grocery store in her pajamas, and some would go so far as to condemn her character for it. The Regency era was just a judgemental, perhaps even more so
1809 Ackermann's Walking Dress
In the words of A Lady of Distinction:

Fine taste in apparel I have ever seen the companion of pure morals, while a licentious style of dress is as certainly the token of the like laxity in manners and conduct. To correct this dangerous fashion ought to be the study and attempt of every mother, of every daughter, of every woman…p. 19
…I beg leave to observe, that I never yet met with a woman whose general style of dress was chaste, elegant, and appropriate, that I did not find, on further acquaintance, to be in disposition and mind, an object to admire and love. P 63-64
Effectively, the taste with which a woman dressed herself was a reflection of her morals, her character, and to some degree her virtue as well. As if deciding what wear wasn’t tough enough to start with!
Attention to one’s station in life, and not trying to leave that sphere to which she was born (as Lady Catherine was wont to say) reflected good morality as well. Upward mobility as we understand it today was considered inappropriate at best and vulgar at worst.
As there is a proprietary in adapting your dress to the different seasons of your life, and the peculiar character of your figure, there is likewise a necessity that it should correspond with the station you hold in society.
This is a subject not less of a moral concern than it is a matter of taste. … It is not from a proud wish to confine elegance to persons of quality that I contend for less extravagant habits in the middle and lower orders of people:  it is a conviction of the evil which their vanity produces that impels me to condemn  in toto the present levelling and expensive mode. P.85
Apparently A Lady’s fear was that spending too much money on clothing and the like would drive a poorer family into ruin and thus reflected bad character and moral. Because of course, those of the lower orders could not make intelligent and informed decisions on how to spend their income. I have a hunch that, though she does not say it, there is also a concern that a girl from the lower orders might be mistaken for one of higher rank or station and some poor young man might extend his attentions to the undeserving girl he might meet at a public assembly.

Dress According to Your Age

1809 Ackermann's- Dancing Dress
In addition to dressing for one’s station, one must also dress according to one’s age. A Lady of Distinction does not mince words in making a distinction between what is appropriate for young ladies versus older matrons. She says:
In the spring of youth, when all is lovely and gay, then, as the soft green, sparkling in freshness, bedecks the earth; so, light and transparent robes, of tender colours, should adorn the limbs of the young beauty … Her summer evening dress may be of a gossamer texture; but it must still preserve the same simplicity, though its gracefully-diverging folds may fall like the mantle of Juno…In this dress, her arms, and part of her neck and bosom may be unveiled: but only part. The eye of maternal decorum should draw the virgin zone to the limit where modesty would bid it rest.” P71

Where in doubt may be about this or that hue being becoming or genteel (as it is very possible it may neither be the one nor the other), let the puzzled beauty leave both, and securely array herself in simple white. That primeval hue never offends, and frequently is the most graceful robe that youth and loveliness can wear. P. 122
In contrast, by the time a woman sees her thirtieth birthday (which by the standards of the day was approaching what we would consider middle age), she should be reconsidering her mode of dress:
As the lovely of my sex advance towards the vale of years, I counsel them to assume a graver habit and a less vivacious air. Cheerfulness is becoming at all times of life; but sportiveness belongs to youth alone’ and when the meridian or decline of our days affects it is every heavy and out of place … At this period she lays aside the flowers of youth, and arrays herself in the majesty of sobriety, or in the grandeur of simple magnificence… Long is the reign of this commanding epoch of a woman’s age; for from thirty to fifty she may most respectably maintain her station on this throne of matron excellence.” P 81
 Our authoress actually has quite a bit to say about how disgusting and inappropriate it is for an ‘older’ woman to seek to draw attention to her appearance as might be appropriate for a younger woman. To have men pay attention to her appearance was regarded vulgar and repulsive. Modesty was the name of the game for the matron of the Regency era.


Not unlike today, the amount of skin to be shown in the name of fashion invited some very strongly worded commentary.
Custom regulates the veiling or unveiling the figure, according to different periods in the day. In the morning the arms and bosom must be completely covered to the throat and wrists. From the dinner hour to the termination of the day, the arms, to a graceful height above the elbow may be bare; and the neck and shoulders unveiled as far as delicacy will allow.  P. 95
1809 Ackermann's Although the focus is
to be on the hats,
notice the neckline and the gloves.
Just how much unveiling delicacy allowed might be a bit debatable. Apparently it was not an absolute degree of exposure, but also related to the ‘charms’ of the beauty being exposed.
To the exposure of the bosom and back, as some ladies display those parts of their person, what shall we say? This mode (like every other which is carried to excess and indiscriminately followed) is not only repugnant to decency, but most exceedingly disadvantageous to the charms of nine women out of ten.  …  When a woman, grown to the age of discretion for her own choice: unveils her beauties to the sun and moon;” then, from even an Helen’s charms the sated eye turns away loathing. … Were we even, in a frantic and impious passion, to set virtue aside, policy should direct out damsels to be more sparing of their attractions. An unrestrained indulgence of the eye robs imagination of her power, and prevents her consequent influence on the heart. And if this be the case where real beauty is exposed how much more subversive of its aim must be the studied display of an ordinary or deformed figure! pp92-93
 If the prevailing fashion be to reject the long sleeve, and to partially display the arm, let the glove advance considerably above the elbow, and there be fastened with a drawing string or armlet. But this should only be the case when the arm is muscular, coarse or scraggy. When it is fair, smooth and rounds, it will admit of the glove being pushed down to a little above the wrists. p. 130

So immodesty was even worse for a plain woman than an attractive one—who knew?
So there you have it, to be perceived as a woman of virtue and taste was no simple feat. Good taste had to be acquired—probably by studying tomes such as The Mirror of Graces along with fashion magazines like Ackermann’s Repository. One needed to dress according to her age and her station in life, keeping in mind both her own physical assets and appropriate modesty while realizing one’s entire future could rest upon making the right impression on the local society. No pressure right?


Regency Etiquette: The Mirror of Graces (1811). Enl. ed. Mendocino, CA: R.L. Shep;, 1997.

Though Maria Grace has been writing fiction since she was ten years old, those early efforts happily reside in a file drawer and are unlikely to see the light of day again, for which many are grateful. 

After penning five file-drawer novels in high school, she took a break from writing to pursue college and earn her doctorate. After 16 years of university teaching, she returned to her first love, fiction writing.

Click here to find her books on Amazon. For more on her writing and other Random Bits of Fascination, visit her website. You can also like her on Facebook, or follow on Twitter.



Sunday, December 9, 2018

Editors Weekly Round-up, December 9, 2018

by the EHFA Editors

Join us every week on English Historical Fiction Authors. We have saints and sinners, politics and war. Read about kings, queens, the common man and woman, and legends from ancient to post-WWII.

by Annie Whitehead

by Hilary Green

Thursday, December 6, 2018

The Women who Worked for SOE

By Hilary Green

In my last blog (Click here) I wrote about the work of the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry during the First World War. When the conflict was over the FANY did not disband, although there was some difficulty in keeping membership buoyant in the inter-war years. Nevertheless, a loyal core continued to train, although now the emphasis was not so much on nursing as on transport. It was clear that there was no longer any need for mounted nurses, the function for which they had been founded in 1907, but their ability to drive and maintain motor vehicles had been crucial during the 1914-18 period. So now they concentrated on this aspect of the training and shortly before the outbreak of World War II it was suggested that they should come under the aegis of the ATS as the Women's Motor Transport Company. And it was in this capacity that many of them did sterling work driving ambulances and chauffeuring high ranking officers during the war. (It was into this corps that Princess Elizabeth, now our Queen, was recruited in order to 'do her bit'.)

Princess Elizabeth in the ATS - Public domain Image

Some long-standing FANYs, however, refused to be subsumed into the ATS. Their independence from other authorities had always been a matter of pride and they insisted on maintaining it, becoming known as the 'Free FANY.' It was this independence that made them ideally suited to working with SOE.

When the Special Operations Executive was first set up at the behest of Winston Churchill to 'set Europe ablaze' by dropping secret agents behind enemy lines, its existence was so secret that not even the army high command was allowed to know about it. So when a need arose for help on 'the home front' with such activities as radio communications and coding and decoding messages to and from agents in the field it was impossible for them to turn to the ATS or any other recognised women's service. Fortunately Colin Gubbins, who was in charge of operations, knew that a neighbour of his, a Mrs Phyllis Bingham, belonged to the FANY and he turned to her for help. So was born 'Bingham's Unit', a branch of the FANY whose function was known only to a few.

Member of ATS - Public Domain image

In order to fulfil their new tasks it was imperative to recruit extra personnel. What was required were young women with experience of wireless telegraphy, perhaps those who had worked for the Post Office, or who had a mathematical background or an aptitude for crossword puzzles. These last, it was felt, would have the right kind of brains for dealing with codes and cyphers. Girls with the right attributes found themselves being referred to a vicarage in Wilton Place, in London, where they encountered the redoubtable Marion Gamwell. (Marion and her sister Hope were long-standing members of the FANY, having volunteered in the First World War, when they provided, from their own funds, a mobile bathhouse in a converted lorry where troops could bathe and get their clothes washed.) Other young women who applied to the Women's War Work Bureau in Oxford Street were sent to Bingham's office in Baker Street. None of them knew what they were being recruited for, but if they were considered suitable after an induction course at Overthorpe Manor, they were then asked to sign the Official Secrets Act. Not even their parents knew what they were doing. They were told that their daughters were being trained as drivers.

Potential radio operators were sent to Fawley Court, near Henley, for four months’ intensive training. If they passed they then went to SOE's communications centre at Grendon Underwood, one of the many country houses taken over for the duration of the war. Conditions were grim. They lived in Nissen huts in the grounds and were often cold and hungry. They worked six hour 'skeds' or schedules in shifts round the clock and each girl was allotted her own agent (or Joe as they were fondly called). In this way, she would get to know his 'fist' – his unique touch on the Morse key – so that she could detect if someone else was impersonating him. Messages were in code and sent in groups of five letters which did not make words, so if one letter was missed it was impossible to guess what it should have been, and they were often sent in haste and in poor atmospheric conditions. It was intensive and demanding work.

Fawley Court via Wiki commons - click here for attribution

Once the message had been received it was handed over to the coding section to be rendered into plain English. Codes were based on poems. Each agent was asked to memorise two or three lines of verse and each message was based on one or two words from those lines, the letters of which were then transposed by using a cypher on a silk sheet which could be folded very small and concealed. The process is described by Leo Marks, a brilliant young man who was SOE's Head of Coding in his book 'Between Silk and Cyanide'. (Those who have read or seen '84 Charing Cross Road' will be interested to learn that Leo was the son of the man who owned the eponymous bookshop.) Many agents maintained that they were unable to remember even short pieces of poetry, so Leo suggested that the girls at Grendon might make up verses that would be easier for them to learn. Some of the results were scatological in the extreme -but presumably all the more memorable for that!

Leo Marks at the opening of the Violette Szabo Museum
Image via Wiki Commons - click here for attribution

Because the messages were sent under very dangerous and difficult conditions they often arrived garbled, making the decoding almost impossible. Marks describes how, on his first visit to Grendon, he told the girls the story of a young Belgian radio operator who was caught while transmitting by the Nazis and suffered terrible tortures in an effort to make him reveal his associates. He pointed out that the longer an operator was at his set, the greater the chances that the enemy detector vans would be able to pinpoint his location. It was vital, therefore, that no operator should be asked to send a message twice. After that, it became a point of honour among the decoders that, no matter how garbled, every message was decoded – even if they had to sit up all night to solve it.

Radio communications was not the only area where the FANYs gave invaluable help. Agents in training or those waiting to be sent into the field, were housed in more great mansions taken over by SOE. In fact, there was a standing joke among them that the letters stood not for Special Operations Executive but for Stately 'Omes of England. While there, they had to be looked after, fed and above all entertained to keep their minds off the dangers ahead of them. Here the more traditional FANY personnel were ideally suited. Many of them had come from backgrounds where social life was at the hub of their existence, but this did not mean they were not prepared to roll up their sleeves and get down to hard work. But at the end of a long day cooking and cleaning they would change into evening dress and after dinner the carpet would be rolled back and they and the agents would dance till midnight to the music of a gramophone.

It was not long, of course, before some of them developed the urge to become agents themselves. Once SOE became convinced that women could play a useful role they began to train with the men, and many of them who were not already members of the FANY were enrolled into their ranks to give a cover to their real purpose. One such was Violette Zsabo, whose exploits form the basis for the film Carve Her Name With Pride.


One aspect of this change in the role of the FANY that particularly interested Hilary was the social implications. When they were founded the FANY was unashamedly elitist. It was a Yeomanry, an organisation for the daughters of the land-owning classes. To a great extent it had preserved that ethos up to the beginning of World War II. Many of the young women had been 'debs', had been presented at court and 'done the season'; some even had titles. But the expansion of the work had required the influx of a large number of girls from very different backgrounds. The heroine of  'We'll Meet Again' is a working class girl recruited into Bingham's Unit who becomes a coder for SOE, ultimately finding herself parachuting into enemy-occupied Italy.
The heroine of Never Say Goodbye is  Frankie's best friend, a girl from the opposite social background, who volunteers to be dropped into France as an agent.

Connect with Hilary:

Monday, December 3, 2018

How Cnut Established Himself as Full King in England

By Annie Whitehead

Nearly one thousand years ago*, in November 1016, Cnut became king of England. How did he establish himself, a foreigner, with full authority?

For a contemporary account of the reign of Aethelred II, it is natural to look to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. In it, we find the closing years of the reign fraught with difficulties; those of fending off Danish raiders. It would be easy to agree with the Chronicler who, writing with hindsight, concludes that the slide towards Danish rule in England was inevitable. The payment of the Danegeld might at first sight seem like sheer folly, yet the policy appears in the short term to have worked.

Aethelred’s problem was that paying off one Viking force would not necessarily keep another one away from his shores. The Chronicler blames the military failure of the English on the cowardice of the military leaders. But while the squabble between Brihtric and Wulfnoth caused the loss of a hundred ships in 1009, we also know that Brihtnoth’s actions at the Battle of Maldon in 991 were those of courage and loyalty, that the army of 1009 left in 1010 without tribute, and that Aethelred was assured of the loyalty of Ulfcytel in East Anglia.

King Aethelred II

If things were not as bad before 1009 as the Chronicler would have us believe, there is little doubt that the armies of Swein Forkbeard (Cnut's father) widened any existing cracks in the morale of the English. Within a year, Swein had established himself as full king. But with his death in 1014, the Witan (king's council) sent to Normandy for Aethelred, and accepted him back as their king “if he would govern them more justly than before.” In the same year, Aethelred’s ravaging of Lindsey drove Cnut’s forces away. With further hindsight than the Chronicler had to offer, and perhaps with less bias, it is probably fair to say that it was far from inevitable that Cnut would succeed Aethelred as king of the English. We must, therefore, look elsewhere to find the reasons for his ultimate success.

It is hard to find a source which places emphasis on the military prowess of Cnut; most in fact, praise his piety and generosity to the Church. He was driven back to Denmark in 1014, and his reputation as a warrior must have suffered as a result. So his success in England must be attributed to something other than military superiority. While it might be rash to say that luck was on Cnut’s side, there is no doubt that circumstances helped him a great deal.

King Cnut

Before he left Denmark, Cnut was allowed by his brother King Harald to raise an army. He was fortunate to have the support of Eric of Hlathir, who had played a great part in the overthrow of Olaf Tryggvason, and who was to prove invaluable to Cnut in England. Before Cnut set sail, he was joined by Thorkell the Tall**. It is possible that Thorkell was seeking revenge for the death of his brother at the hands of the English, although it is possible, but not universally accepted among historians, that this revenge was sought earlier, and was, in fact, the reason for Thorkell’s invasion of England in 1009. Whatever his reason, Thorkell’s presence was a bonus for Cnut; he now had with him an accomplished warrior who knew England and the English.

The champion of English resistance was Aethelred’s son, Edmund Ironside. He had procured the support of the Danelaw by marrying the widow of Sigeferth, murdered by Eadric Streona (ealdorman of Mercia) probably at the behest of Aethelred. Cnut could not, therefore, be certain that the Danes in England would submit to him, and he landed in the south and began ravaging Wessex. Edmund and Eadric were raising forces, but they separated before they met the enemy. Eadric joined Cnut, and within four months Cnut was in firm control of Wessex and had the resources of the Mercian ealdormanry at his command.

Edmund Ironside

Cnut was aided elsewhere in England by Edmund’s troubles. His army in the Danelaw dispersed after demanding that the London militia should join them. Having lost his opportunity here, Edmund joined forces with Uhtred of Bamburgh. Cnut was quick to seize the chance he had been given and invaded the Danelaw, whence he proceeded towards Northumbria. Uhtred hurried back from the midlands and submitted to Cnut. Soon afterwards he was murdered, and Northumbria was left in the capable hands of Eric of Hlathir. Cnut was free now to turn his attention to the south east.

Edmund had joined his father in London, and when Aethelred died in 1016 the men of London chose Edmund as his successor. Within a few days of Aethelred’s death, however, a more representative assembly at Southampton swore fealty to Cnut in return for a promise of good government. Cnut was again helped by Eadric Streona’s amazing capacity to vacillate. He went over to Edmund’s side, and then took flight during the definitive Battle of Ashingdon. Cnut, as victor, came to terms with Edmund, and the result was a division of the kingdom. Edmund was given Wessex, and the rest of the country beyond the Thames Cnut took for himself. This was obviously a dangerous situation, in which conflict could easily flare up again. As Stenton pointed out, it imposed a divided allegiance on all those noblemen who held land in both Mercia and Wessex. [1] But circumstances once again favoured Cnut when, less than two months after the Battle of Ashingdon, Edmund Ironside died, and the West Saxons accepted Cnut as their king.

King of all England now, Cnut was by no means secure in his position. Good fortune and opportunity had helped him thus far; now he had to rely on his judgement and ability. He eliminated any chance that Richard of Normandy might support the claims of Aethelred’s children by Emma, by marrying the lady himself. For military rather than administrative reasons he divided the kingdom into four: Wessex he controlled himself, Eadric Streona was appointed to Mercia, East Anglia went to Thorkell, and Eric of Hlathir remained in Northumbria. In the same year, 1017, the atheling Eadwig was exiled and subsequently murdered. The Anglo-Saxon aristocracy also lost at least four of its prominent members, among them Eadric Streona. ('Streona' means 'The Grasper' or the 'Acquisitive' and the name first appeared in Hemming's Cartulary, an 11th-century manuscript, pictured below.)

Cnut set out to win the respect of the English church, and in this he was successful, being fully prepared to accept the traditional responsibility of being an agent of God with the duty to protect his people. He claimed to be occupying a throne to which he had been chosen at Gainsborough in 1014, and at Southampton in 1016. Though in reality much was changed during his reign, Cnut sought to establish himself by emphasising the importance of continuity. There was not such a large scale change in land ownership as was to occur in 1066, nor was there a great change in the personnel within the leadership of the Church. Archbishop Wulfstan drew up Cnut’s lawcodes drawing on those he’d written for Aethelred. The lawcodes themselves stressed continuity; very little in them was new.

Cnut (top centre)

Before the end of 1017, with Eadric Streona dead, and the alliance with Normandy secured, Cnut dismissed his fleet, retaining only forty ships. Its dismissal showed that henceforth he intended to rule as the chosen king of the English. At a council at Oxford it was agreed that the laws of Edgar (Aethelred's father, whose reign of 959 to 975 was already beginning to be looked upon as a golden age) should be observed.

In 1018 the military rule was relaxed. Two earldoms were re-established in Wessex, and in Mercia the earldoms of Herefordshire and Worcestershire were re-established. Stenton says that it was then that Cnut's reign began in earnest. [2] But throughout his reign the presence of the huscarls (housecarls) and the distribution of the heregeld (military tax) to them made it difficult for the English to forget that they were being ruled by a conquering alien king. There is no doubt though that by this point Cnut had established himself, for afterwards he felt sufficiently secure to leave the country in four separate expeditions to the north.

Cnut had invaded a vulnerable country in 1015, a country which was war-torn and weary. There were no clear dividing lines of loyalty; Edmund's army included Danes, Cnut’s included Englishmen. There can be no doubt that Cnut benefited considerably from the untrustworthiness of Eadric Streona, and from the dispersal of Edmund’s army in the Danelaw. For Cnut, the death of Edmund Ironside was nothing short of a blessing. Thereafter, his success rested on the fact that he did not conspicuously behave as a conqueror, stressing the importance of continuity, and keeping to the path that the pious King Edgar had trodden.

King Edgar

This emphasis must have taken attention away from the changes  his reign brought about. Keeping his military forces for less than a year Cnut reduced feeling among the English that they were a conquered people. Cnut made good use of his opportunities. By 1018 he had successfully established himself as full king of the English.

[1] Anglo-Saxon England - FM Stenton p387
[2] Op cit p 393

**Some historians, Campbell among them, argue that Thorkell did not join Cnut until 1016/17

Further reading/Bibliography:
The Anglo-Saxon Age - DJV Fisher
The Laws of Cnut & The History of Anglo-Saxon Royal Promises - P Stafford in Anglo-Saxon England 10
Encomium Emmae Reginae - Ed Campbell
The Chronicle of Thietmar of Merseberg EHD
The Sermon of the wolf to the English “ “
King Edgar and the Danelaw - Niels Lund, Med Scand 9
The Diplomas of Aethelred the Unready - Simon Keynes
Wulfstan and the Laws of Cnut - D Whitelock EHR 63

(all the above images are in the public domain)

*This article is an Editor's Choice and was originally published September 19, 2016


Annie Whitehead is an author and historian, and a member of the Royal Historical Society. She has written three award-winning novels set in Anglo-Saxon Mercia. Her history of Mercia, from Penda the pagan king to the last brave stand of the earl of Mercia against the Conqueror, Mercia: The Rise and Fall of a Kingdom, is published by Amberley.

Find out more at

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Editors Weekly Round-up, December 2, 2018

by the EHFA Editors

Never miss a post on English Historical Fiction Authors. Enjoy this week's round-up.

by Hilary Green (writing as Holly Green)

by Kim Rendfeld

by Lauren Gilbert

Friday, November 30, 2018

Bourton-on-the-Water: Venice of the North

by Lauren Gilbert

A view of Bourton-on-the-Water taken by the author 2018

My husband and I recently returned from a wonderful trip, where we saw many places we had never previously visited. One of these places was a beautiful town in England named Bourton-on-the-Water, located in the Cotswolds. Some dear friends took us out for the day, and took us through several villages in the Malvern hills and the Cotswolds. Situated among rolling hills with cottages of buildings constructed of golden stone, some with thatched roofs, the villages of the Cotswolds are lovely and match every description I had ever read. Thanks to its beautiful setting, Bourton-on-the-Water has a special magic, and it has a fascinating history to go with it.

There are signs that people took advantage of the location well over 4000 years ago. Indications of a camp used by nomadic tribes consist of archaeological finds including arrow heads, flints, pottery going back to the Neolithic area, and even a pre-800 BC hand axe. The area along the river appears to have been permanently settled at least for defensive purposes sometime during the Iron Age, as indicated by a site called Salmonsbury Camp which remained a landmark in the area at least into medieval times. The Romans arrived in the area c AD 45. Roman remains including coins, buildings, roadwork, a well and two lead water storage tanks and indicate that a small Roman town was on this site. Roman troops left Britain in the 5th century, and the area was plundered by various tribes, including the Picts from Scotland, with the result that the Angles and the Saxons were invited in to help drive them back. This in turn led to issues with the Germanic people; data indicates that Bishop Germanus led a Christian army in 429 that defeated a military made up of both Picts and Saxons in 429 somewhere in the vicinity. Ultimately, the Saxons settled in the Cotswolds more or less peacefully, leaving the local inhabitants to mange themselves under their own systems. Bourton was mentioned in Saxon documents in the 8th century.

There has been a parish church in Bourton since the mid-7th century. The original Saxon church was said to have been built of wood on the site of a Roman temple, possibly in 708 when a gift of land was made by the Saxon king Oswin. This church was torn down and a new church , dedicated to Our Lady, was built on the Saxon foundations by the Normans about 1110. This church and others in the area were affiliated with Evesham Abbey. It appears that the first Norman church was replaced in the 14th century. It has been dedicated to St. Lawrence the martyr since 1328. A chantry dedicated to Our Blessed Lady was also added in the 14th century. The last Norman church was partially torn down in 1784, with the chancel being retained. The current Georgian structure was designed by local resident William Marshall and built on the same site. More rebuilding was completed during the Victorian era between 1875-1890 under the supervision of architect Sir Thomas Jackson.

St Lawrence's Church,
(by Nilfanion [CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

During the Middle Ages, thanks to the river and the fertile land, farming expanded, as did trade. A successful wool trade resulted in the employment of two weavers, and the village also boasted a cobbler and a smith, as well as various other craftsmen. In 1381, there were 118 residents who paid poll tax. Although the Black Death troubled England from approximately 1348 to 1378, there is no record of its effect on the village. “On the Water” was not added to the name until the reign of Henry VIII. As with other parts of England, the effects on local religion with Henry VIII’s break with the Roman Catholic church and the dissolution of the monasteries, the restoration of Catholicism under Queen Mary Tudor, and the return to Protestantism under Elizabeth I were felt. As dissenting religious groups (particularly the Puritans) became established and more vocal and the Stuart kings appeared more tolerant of Catholicism, things came to a head under Charles I, largely due to taxes imposed by the king without Parliament, resulting in civil war. Armies from both sides passed through the area, although there is no indication that fighting occurred Bourton itself. King Charles and his remaining troops did stay in Bourton for one night in June 1644 after fleeing from Oxford. Charles surrendered May 6, 1646 and was executed January 30, 1649.

After the Civil War, Bourton was known to have a population of Catholics living in the area. There were also a number of nonconformists, including Puritans and Baptists (the Baptist community appears to have been established locally around 1650). Charles Stuart, Prince of Wales, was invited back to England in 1660 and was proclaimed King Charles II May 8, 1660. As a result of the restoration, tension rose between the Anglican Church and the dissenting communities. In 1660, a minister named Anthony Palmer was removed from the parish church and ejected from the Anglican Communion. He subsequently became minister to the local Congregationalists. Records indicate that, by 1676, Bourton had greater numbers of dissenters than any other community in the Stow deanery (of which Bourton was a part). Anabaptists and Presbyterians also established communities.

In August of 1876, the Baptist community in Bourton-on-the-Water opened a large new church and significantly increased its membership. While these developments occurred, the village grew and prospered. The village developed an established and prosperous middle class of business and trades people, the larger portion of whom were not Anglican. Shoemaking became a major industry of the town as the wool trade waned. The railway came through the town, with the last link completed in 1881.

Victoria Hall was built in Bourton-on-the-Water in 1897 by subscription, to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Jubilee (60 years on the throne 1837-1897). It was and still is the centre of village activities today. It boasts two plaques, one commemorating Victoria’s Jubilee, and a second honouring Queen Elizabeth II’s Jubilee (60 years on the throne 1952-2012) that were erected in 2012. The railroad and subsequent development of automobile traffic brought a thriving tourist trade to the Cotswolds, and thus to Bourton-on-the-Water. Rather than its history (of which I have touched only on parts), Bourton-on-the-Water’s lovely setting on the Windrush River, beautiful stone buildings and five stone bridges that made it a favoured destination for tourists, which it is to this day. It’s no wonder that Bourton-on-the-Water is listed as one of England’s “Venice of the North” cities.

Victoria Hall (on the right) taken by the author 2018

Sources include:

Wray, Tony and Stratford, David. Bourton on the Water. (Towns and Villages of England) Sutton Publishing Limited: Gloucestershire, 1994, reprinted 2004.

Britain Express. “Bourton on the Water, Gloucestershire” by David Ross.  HERE

British History Online. “Parishes: Bourton-on-the-Water.” From A History of the County of Gloucester: Volume 6. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1965, Pages 33-49.

Cotswolds.Info “History of Bourton-on-the-Water” by Ralph Green. HERE

Historic England. “Iron Age fortified enclosure known as Salmonsbury Camp.”  HERE

Know Britain. “The Church of St. Lawrence Bourton-on-the-Water.” HERE

About the Author:
Lauren Gilbert, author of HEYERWOOD: A Novel, holds a bachelor of arts degree in English, and is a long-time member of the Jane Austen Society of North America.  Her second novel, A RATIONAL ATTACHMENT is in process and she is engaged in research for a biography.  She lives in Florida with her husband.  You can find out more on her Amazon page.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Cynethryth, a Powerful Queen of the Mercians

By Kim Rendfeld

Queen Cynethryth had an exalted status during her husband’s reign and enjoyed seeing her son succeed his father, a rarity in 8th-century Mercia. Yet she would also see the dynasty she and her husband desired fall apart.

Alcuin, a scholar in Charlemagne’s court, described her as the controller of the royal household, a role akin to a treasurer and chief of staff for the kings—traditional for early medieval queens. She likely managed the properties of the many religious houses her husband founded and got papal permission to control.

Yet she had something unique: her image graces a coin minted during her husband’s reign. It was common for kings to assert their authority by having their image imprinted on currency. Cynethryth is the only known Anglo-Saxon queen to do so. Perhaps, she and her husband were inspired by the Byzantines, who minted coins with the image of Empress Mother Irene.

Cynethryth penny (public domain via Wikimedia Commons)

Cynethryth’s husband was Mercian King Offa. Although he had a reputation for ruthlessness, he knew how to play by the rules, at least when it served to his advantage. Unlike his predecessor, his kinsman Æthelbald (accused of fornication, including acts with nuns), Offa wanted the Church’s approval for his relationship with one woman—and only one woman—to ensure his offspring would inherit the crown. Offa knew that special woman, the mother of his children, should be queen of the Mercians, endowed with a royal status.

Offa apparently was a steadfast husband. He had no children born outside wedlock. True, the Church preached against sex outside marriage, but for men, it wasn’t a big deal. All a father had to do was acknowledge and support the child. Perhaps, Offa was faithful because he was fond of Cynethryth. He definitely wanted to limit the number of claimants to the throne and took the necessary, and maybe murderous, steps.

Presumably, Offa and Cynethryth wed for political reasons. We don’t know Cynethryth’s parents or her age. Her name is similar to 7th-century King Penda’s wife and daughters, so she likely came from a prestigious family. We don’t know exactly when the couple married, but her name starts to appear on charters around 770, where she identified herself as the mother of the heir to the throne, Ecgfrith.

Women in that era typically were teenagers when they married, some as young as 12 or 13. She might have been born a few years before Offa seized the throne. Æthelbald had been murdered in 757, and Offa drove away a rival shortly thereafter. Considering that Offa ruled for almost 40 years, he was probably a young man at the time. If he married around 769, he might have been in his 30s and thinking about the future.

By 770, Offa had imposed himself as overlord of Kent, taking advantage of a succession crisis there. Or, from his point of view, reasserting the Mercian rule his predecessor had established. He might have seen Cynethryth as the woman who shared his ambition for Mercia and would support his conquests. After their son’s birth, Offa continued expanding his territory into Sussex and the Hwicce.

Coin with Offa's image (public domain via Wikimedia Commons)

Who Cynethryth was as a woman is hard to say. During her lifetime, the scholar Alcuin advised Ecgfrith to learn piety from his mother. After Cynethryth’s death—long after—she is accused of being as ruthless as her husband in ordering the execution of a visiting East Anglian king. In reality, her husband might have been responsible, for political reasons. But then again, Cynethryth very well could have supported her husband. Medieval women were ambitious.

In addition to the son, Offa and Cynethryth had three daughters, Æthelburh, Eadburh, and Ælfflæd. The couple put their daughters in positions of influence. Æthelburh was an abbess who corresponded with Alcuin. Eadburh wed Beorhtric, king of Wessex. The marriage solidified Beorhtric’s claim to his throne, and the father- and son-in-law drove out Ecgberht, son of Kentish King Ealhmund and a rival for the West Saxon crown. Ælfflæd married Northumbrian King Æthelred I.

In 787, Ecgfrith was crowned co-ruler with his father, a move that ensured his succession. After Offa died on July 29, 796, Cynethryth remained at court. Her son would die before the year was over. The cause of his death remain unknown, but I suspect it was not natural causes. Her son-in-law Æthelred was murdered that year, leaving Ælfflæd a widow. We don’t know whether Cynethryth lived to see Eadburh become a widow when her husband (likely) died in battle in 802 (likely) at Ecgberht’s hand. (Decades later, Alfred the Great’s biographer, Asser, accused Eadburh of accidentally poisoning her husband while trying to kill someone else. His account is highly suspicious for many reasons, including that Alfred was Ecgberht’s grandson.)

After Ecgfrith died, Cynethryth took the veil and became abbess of Cookham (in Berkshire), one of the religious houses her husband founded and bequeathed to her. Perhaps a sign of the couple’s affection is where Cynethryth chose to retire. Cookham was close to Bedford, where Offa was buried.

The Thames at Cookham (by Sebastian Ballard,
  CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons)


Oxford National Biography
“Offa” by S.E. Kelly
“Cynethryth” by S.E. Kelly

“Political Women in Mercia” by Pauline Stafford, Mercia: An Anglo-Saxon Kingdom in Europe

Carolingian Connections: Anglo-Saxon England and Carolingian Francia, c. 750–870 by Joanna Story

In Kim Rendfeld's Queen of the Darkest Hour, Queen Fastrada must stop a conspiracy before it destroys everyone and everything she loves. The book is available on Amazon, iBooks, Barnes & NobleKobo, and Smashwords.

Kim has written two other books set in 8th century Francia. In The Cross and the Dragon, a Frankish noblewoman must contend with a jilted suitor and the fear of losing her husband (available on Amazon). In The Ashes of Heaven's Pillar, a Saxon peasant will fight for her children after losing everything else (available on Amazon). Kim's short story “Betrothed to the Red Dragon,” about Guinevere’s decision to marry Arthur, is set in early medieval Britain and available on Amazon.

Connect with Kim at on her website, her blog, Outtakes of a Historical Novelist at, on Facebook at, or follow her on Twitter at @kimrendfeld.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Unsung Heroines of World War One

By Hilary Green (writing as Holly Green)

This article is about the lives of three remarkable women; Grace Ashley Smith, Mabel Stobart and Flora Sands:

Ashley Smith joined the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry in the early years of the 20th century and rose to take command at a time when the organisation was in danger of collapsing. The FANY had been founded in 1907 with the idea that it would provide a corps of mounted nurses who could gallop onto the battle field to render First Aid to the wounded but there had been disputes and the membership was dropping off.  She 'pulled it up by its boot straps' and instituted a training regime that made it so efficient that it was commended by Sir Arthur Sloggett, the Chief Commissioner of the Red Cross.

There was rigorous training in all aspects of First Aid, and the skills needed to survive in conditions near the front line. For the first time women went under canvas and learned camp cookery, signalling and related subjects. However, when she offered the corps' services at the beginning of World War I they were turned down by the War Office, who wanted nothing to do with women at the front line. Nothing daunted, Smith arranged with the Belgians to set up a hospital in Calais, where the FANY girls did wonderful service collecting and caring for wounded men. They were the first women to drive ambulances under fire and many of them received awards for gallantry.

Mabel Stobart was born in 1862. She married and lived in Africa and British Columbia but after the death of her husband she returned to London in 1907. She found the city, and indeed the whole country, gripped by the fear of invasion by Germany. In that climate a play, 'An Englishman's Home', was staged which pointed out how helpless the average middle-class household would be in that event, and in particular how ill-equipped the women would be to do anything to help their menfolk.

This inspired Stobart to take steps to rectify the situation. She was a supporter of women's suffrage but did not approve of the suffragettes. In her autobiography, Miracles and Adventures, she wrote:
'My feeling was that if women desired to have a share in the government of the country, and this seemed a legitimate ambition, they ought to be capable of taking a share in the defence of their country. I thought that in the present agitation women were putting the cart before the horse, and I made up my mind to try to provide proof of women's national worthiness, in the belief that political enfranchisement would be the natural corollary ... I certainly did not want them to fight, to take life. Nature asks us to create life, a responsibility we have accepted much too lightly ... What was there we could do, or should be allowed to do, in case of foreign invasion?'

To begin with she joined the FANY, but around 1912 a dispute arose, the origins of which are somewhat mysterious, and several members broke away, Stobart among them. She then founded her own organisation, The Women's Sick and Wounded Convoy. Its aims were very much the same as those of the FANY, i.e. to render First Aid to those wounded in battle and to transport them to the nearest Field Hospital. When the First Balkan War broke out between Serbia, Bulgaria and Greece on the one hand and the Ottoman Empire on the other Stobart saw this as a perfect opportunity to prove that her ideas could work in practice. She took a group of women nurses and doctors to Sophia, the capital of Bulgaria, and persuaded the Tsar and his generals to allow them to set up a hospital in Lozengrad, the nearest point to the front line which they were allowed to reach. The journey took six days, in ox carts over roads deep in mud, and when they arrived they had first to find a suitable building and then set it up as a hospital from scratch. That they achieved this was a remarkable tribute to their tenacity and determination. It was the first field hospital to be staffed entirely by women.

When the First World War started in 1914 Stobart joined with Lady Muir McKenzie to found the Women's National Service League. She went to Belgium to set up a hospital but was captured by the Germans and almost shot as a spy. However, she escaped and once the hospital was established she left for the Balkans again, this time for Serbia where she had been invited to set up a hospital outside Kragujevac. From there she led a mobile field hospital up to the front line but, when the Bulgarians - who were now fighting on the side of the Central Powers - attacked, the Serbian army was forced into a desperate retreat through the mountains of Albania in the dead of winter. It is one of the epic stories of the war. The conditions were terrible; the roads were merely tracks, often too narrow even for a cart to pass and the snow was up to the horses' knees. There were no supplies and the local people were hostile. Thousands died. Somehow Stobart brought her unit through to safety on the Adriatic coast, often spending eighteen hours a day on horseback - an amazing feat for a woman of fifty-three. They were taken off by ship and reached Italy, from where they were able to return to England. If Stobart expected a hero's welcome and recognition of her aim to prove women as capable as men of enduring hardship in the service of their country, she was disappointed.

Meanwhile, as mentioned above, the FANYs were doing sterling work in France.

In her book, A Woman Sergeant in the Serbian Army, Flora Sandes relates how she, too, went to Serbia as a nurse. She does not say under whose auspices, but FANY records show her as one of those who split from the organisation at the same time as Stobart so it seems likely that she went with The Women's Sick and Wounded Convoy. In the course of the retreat she was separated from her unit and taken into the protection of a company of Serbian soldiers.

She witnessed their conduct in several rear-guard actions and finally demanded a gun of her own so that she could play her part. She, too, was involved in the epic retreat through Albania. On reaching Durazzo (Durres) on the Adriatic coast many of the remnants of the Serbian army were taken by ship to Corfu and instead of going home Flora went with them. There they found that no facilities had been set up to receive them. There was no firewood and no food supplies. Single-handedly, Flora made her way to Corfu Town and confronted the British and French military authorities, who had taken over the island for the duration, forcing them to acknowledge the problem and take the necessary measures.

By this time she had been accepted as a regular member of the Serbian Army and at a ceremony a few months later she was given the rank of sergeant - the first woman to be officially recognised as a fighting soldier. After some months, the Serbs were re-equipped and sent to Salonika (modern day Thessaloniki) where a small force of British, French and Greek soldiers was prevented from advancing into Macedonia by superior numbers of Bulgarian troops. Eventually they succeeded in breaking out and the Serbs fought a bitter campaign, regaining their lost homeland mountain peak by mountain peak, until at last they re-entered Belgrade. Flora fought with them, in spite of being wounded and enduring the death of the soldier with whom she had fallen in love and almost dying from Spanish 'flu, which killed so many all over Europe. The collapse of German resistance in Serbia was the event which triggered the end of the war and brought about the Armistice.

[all photographs in the Public Domain, via Wikipedia]


Hilary Green who also writes as Holly Green, is the author of fifteen historical novels, ranging from Bronze Age Greece to the Second World War. She has a B.Ed degree (First Class) and an MA in Writing. This post details the inspiration for three novels originally entitled Daughters of War; Passions of War and Harvest of War but recently republished by Penguin as Frontline Nurses, Frontline Nurses on Duty and Secrets of the Frontline Nurses.  Book 1 is available as a paperback, books 2 and 3 are available on line and will be in print in due course.
Connect with Hilary: