Authentic Headless Women Revisited, Now With Extra Tortured Cats

The middle of August, so lots going on, almost none of it seriously work-related – lawns to mow, places to visit, etc. As an ex-teacher of many years’ drudgery service, I still have the mindset that August is pretty sacrosanct, even though that imperative doesn’t really work for writers. Even so, I suspect that many […]

You Can Fool Some of the People Some of the Time (Redux)

The current media storm about ‘alternative facts’ put me in mind of a post I first published on 1 November 2011, when this blog was read by two men, a dog, and a vole called Kevin. So I thought I’d re-post it now for a rather wider audience, especially as it chimes neatly with some […]

The Rage is Coming!

Cue drum roll…cue trumpets… Ladies and gentlemen, I’m pleased to announce that the next ‘Journal of Matthew Quinton’, the sixth book in the series, will be entitled The Rage of Fortune. But this is a ‘Quinton Journal’ with a twist, because the central character is a different Matthew Quinton. Followers of the series will know that one of […]

The Rise of Historyism

It was a very bad week for politicians and History. Or, to be exact, it was a bad week for History because of politicians’ inability to stop distorting it to serve their own ends. Take David Cameron’s big speech to the Conservative conference, for example. ‘This is the country that … defeated the Nazis…and fought […]

The Sailors’ Graves

It’s OK, minions of the Carmarthenshire County Council damage limitation department, you can stand down – this one isn’t about you. A reblog of one of my old posts (from July 2012) this week because of pressure of work, but I hope it’s one that will appeal to both my followers who are into maritime […]

Flash Pepys, Saviour of the Universe

Last week saw the anniversary of Samuel Pepys’s birth in 1633, and Twitter was abuzz with the inevitable superlatives – the greatest English diarist! the founder of the modern Royal Navy! One only needed Queen to belt out ‘Pepys, Saviour of the Universe’, with Brian Blessed bellowing ‘Sam’s alive?!’, and the hyperbolic overdose would have […]

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 […]

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 […]

Rules of Succession

There’s been much spluttering about the announcement of a change to the royal rules of succession, both to allow elder girls to succeed before younger brothers and to end the prohibition on marriage to Catholics. Indeed, it’s been one of those rare cases of equally loud and indignant spluttering from both left and right – […]