Vanished Empires

‘The Journals of Matthew Quinton’ are set principally during what are known as ‘the Anglo-Dutch wars’, but like most generalisations used to describe historical periods, that label actually conceals a much more complex picture. For one thing, the wars were not exclusively Anglo-Dutch: the second, from 1665 to 1667, also involved France, Denmark-Norway and even […]

Of Mountains and Gold

The second Quinton novel, The Mountain of Gold, comes out in hardback in North America on 31 January and in paperback in the UK on 13 March, and in the buildup to both launches I’ll be blogging about some of the background to the book. I’ll also be blogging about the story behind the third […]

Happy New History?

First, a very Happy New Year to all! The next few months will be particularly exciting, with The Mountain of Gold being published in North America on 31 January followed by The Blast That Tears The Skies in the UK on 13 March (also the publication date of the UK trade paperback of Mountain of […]

The Real Tarpaulins, Part 3: Or, Getting It Wrong and Getting It Right

My original intention for this week was to do a ‘straight’ factual outline of the careers of the three most famous ‘tarpaulin’ officers of the Restoration period, the closely inter-connected Sir Christopher Myngs, Sir John Narbrough and Sir Cloudesley Shovell. But the more I thought about it, the more I realised that there was a […]

The Real Tarpaulins, Part 2

This week, a couple more ‘tarpaulin’ officers whose lives provided inspiration for the character of Kit Farrell in ‘the journals of Matthew Quinton’. I’ll conclude the series next week with a look at probably the most famous tarpaulins of the age – the closely interconnected Norfolk admirals Christopher Myngs, John Narbrough and Cloudesley Shovell. The […]

The Real Tarpaulins, Part 1

In recent posts, I’ve looked at the lives of some of the real ‘gentleman captains’ who became models for my fictional character, Matthew Quinton. Drawn from the aristocracy and gentry, often possessing very little prior experience of the sea, the ‘gentlemen’ became increasingly dominant in the navy of Charles II and Samuel Pepys. By doing […]

History and Fiction

I thought I’d take a brief break from my accounts of ‘the real gentlemen captains’ to give my impressions of last week’s conference at the Institute of Historical Research in London, Novel Approaches: From Academic History to Historical Fiction, which continues this week in virtual form. First of all it was great fun, and it […]

Don’t Tell Your Mother

Apologies for missing my usual posting date last week. I’ve been in Wales for 10 days or so, packing in a lot of research and fieldwork for my new non-fiction book Britannia’s Dragon. I’ve had intermittent internet access and also managed to forget my access codes for the blog… Anyway, I thought I’d get back […]

Stepney 200

Last Monday, 3 October, marked the 200th anniversary of the death of a lesser known but fascinating figure of the Regency age: Sir John Stepney, Baronet, sometime ambassador to Dresden and Berlin. Stepney died at Trnava in modern-day Slovakia, and in many respects his afterlife proved as memorable as his 68 years of living. He […]