Captains and Kings

First, apologies for not posting last week. As I mentioned on Twitter, I paid the price for getting too carried away on ‘Quinton 4’, The Lion of Midnight, and typing over 8,000 words in two days with little regard for ‘elf ‘n’ safety’. The result was that I woke up the next morning with a hand […]

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 […]

“It’s coming home, it’s coming home…”

Last week I was speaking to Dutch TV about a documentary they’re planning on the Anglo-Dutch wars, and during the course of that it emerged that the sternpiece of the Royal Charles, captured at Chatham in 1667 and a prominent exhibit at the Rijksmuseum, will be returning temporarily to the UK for an exhibition at […]

A Broadside More

Cheating this week, I’m afraid…a fairly major work crisis, so no time to write a proper blog! But it’s all for a good cause, and there’ll be some exciting news about the ‘Quinton Journals’ coming soon. In the meantime, here’s a little ditty published in 1665. In fact, this serves a double purpose rather neatly […]

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 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 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 […]

A Matter of Faith

Religion is often something of an elephant in the room of historical fiction. If the past really is a foreign country where they do things differently, faith is about as different as it gets, and for secular authors in today’s secular western societies, reconstructing its all-pervasiveness is perhaps one of the trickiest challenges of all. […]