Interesting Places in Great Britain: Longleat

Longleat is one of the most fascinating places in Wiltshire, England.  Actually, you can’t call it a “place,” as it is really three different things:

The House

First and foremost, it is the home of Alexander Thynn, the 7th  Marquess of Bath.  A very eccentric figure who resembles Richard Branson, the Virgin company tycoon, Thynn […]

Interesting Places in Great Britain: St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle

For those who have read both LADY OF ASHES and STOLEN REMAINS, you know that Windsor Castle is a large royal residence where Prince Albert died on December 14, 1861.  Today it is the preferred weekend home of Elizabeth II, but Queen Victoria thought it gloomy, much preferring her seaside retreat of Osborne House on […]

William Gladstone Becomes Prime Minister (for the First Time), December 9, 1868

Catherine and William Gladstone in later life

William Ewart Gladstone was born December 29, 1809, and became prime minister for the first time on December 9, 1868, just before his 59th birthday. He would enter parliament for the fourth and last time in 1892, at the age of 82!

Prior to his election as […]

Opening of the Suez Canal, November 17, 1869

The entire plot basis for A GRAVE CELEBRATION was the opening of the Suez Canal in Egypt. The canal was the brainchild of Ferdinand de Lesseps (1805—1894), a Frenchman with a varied and distinguished diplomatic career before successfully completing a waterway linking the Mediterranean and Red Seas, effectively linking East and West with dramatically reduced […]

Destination Gettysburg!

Over Halloween weekend I had the pleasure of visiting Gettysburg Battlefield Books & Collectibles for a signing. You might think, “What does Violet Harper, Undertaker Extraordinaire, have to do with a hallowed Civil War battlefield site?”

Well, many of the mourning customs practiced in Great Britain were also practiced in America, and in no greater […]

Interesting Places in Great Britain: Old Operating Theatre

My husband and I have visited this location twice. It is officially called the Old Operating Theatre Museum and Herb Garret, and you must travel a set of tiny, winding stairs inside St. Thomas Church in London to get to it. It was once part of old St. Thomas Hospital, and is the oldest operating […]

How I Write

I am often asked how I go about writing my books. The most common three questions are:

How do you come up with your ideas? How did you get the idea to write about a Victorian undertaker in the first place? What is your daily writing routine?

I use the same general idea process for […]

Who was Mrs. Beeton?

Isabella Beeton, ca. 1854

If you follow me on Facebook, you know that I like to periodically offer tidbits of advice, recipes, and household cleaning solutions from Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management.

Who was this Mrs. Beeton? And how did she come to write a 1,000+ page tome on the art of domestic […]

British Cemetery Monuments

Doing research for the LADY OF ASHES series can often involve visiting some rather, er, unusual places. Several years ago, my husband and I went to London, with one of my primary goals being to visit Kensal Green Cemetery. Fortunately, the hubby is very good-natured about such things.

As London churchyards began filling—and overflowing—in the […]

Interesting Places in Great Britain: Weald & Downland Open Air Museum

The Weald & Downland Open Air Museum is a fun way to spend the day in the town of Chichester, West Sussex.

I would describe it as essentially a large collection of buildings that have been transplanted from their original sites and put here to show visitors what life was like in England over the […]