Tuesday, December 10, 2013

New Review: Debra Brown and M.M. Bennetts’s CASTLES, CUSTOMS, AND KINGS: True Tales by English Historical Fiction Authors – a Treasure Trove of Information!

A compilation of short essays from the English Historical Fiction Authors blog, this hefty book provides a wealth of historical information from Roman Britain to early twentieth century England. Over fifty different authors share hundreds of articles with insightful information they have discovered while doing research for their novels.

There are nine sections:

1. Roman Britain and Early Medieval Period (55 BC – AD 1000)
2. Late Medieval Period (1001-1485)
3. Tudor Period (1485-1603)
4. Stuart Period (1603-1714)
5. Early Georgian Period (1715-1800)
6. Late Georgian and Regency Era (1800-1837)
7. Victorian Era (1837-1901)
8. Twentieth Century
9. Historical Tidbits Across the Ages (things like dogs, clocks and Christmas)

From Queen Boadicea's revolt to Tudor ladies-in-waiting, from Regency dining and dress to Victorian crimes and technology, it’s all about Great Britain—the stories behind England's castles, customs, and kings.

The articles are not deep research, though they may reflect it. They are brief looks at specific issues (some less than a page; most are 2-3 pages). Some list references; some do not. To anyone who follows the English Historical Fiction blog, as I do, it’s nice having a compendium of their posts in one place. And for anyone doing serious research, this is a place to begin to get a feel for the specific periods and perhaps for clothing, food and even specific technologies (like the flush toilet, mirrors, and as I already mentioned, clocks).

I do not recommend buying this as an eBook if you want to use it as a reference. I first tried to read it that way and found it overly cumbersome. Having the 514-page book on one’s shelf is so much better. There’s a handy Table of Contents that allows you to quickly turn to an article of interest.


  1. Sometimes a quick reference is a nice place to start. Sounds like it's worth adding to my research pile. :) Thanks!

    1. Yes, MK, I thought that it might be very useful for that. A place to begin...

  2. I was considering buying this after reading the interesting articles of English Historical Fiction Authors' blog. Good to know to stay away from the Kindle on this one.