Thank you for letting me join this group. Historical fiction has been my favourite place since I was a child, and when I eventually gave in to the call of writing it was due to particular story from my city’s past that I wanted to tell. I spent a year mulling over the idea, and another year devoting a day a week to research and getting to know the archives, the city council minutes and the joys of 16th century handwriting and language. I loved it! Towards the end of that year two things happened to stall me: attending a couple of writing workshops which gave me feelings of inadequacy, and needing a new job that could actually pay some bills. Another year on of adjusting to my job and then pandemic, lockdown and homeschooling, and I’m finally making a start on my first draft. Exciting and daunting and all sorts of other feelings.
Thank you Jordan. Yes, 1590s York, with the setting being the knitting school for the poor that was established at that time. The three in charge of the school (a newly-wed couple and a stranger) are all outsiders in their own way, and the story centres around the young wife’s desire to find her place in the world and to make choices for herself. I think. There’s a real historical antagonist that I was delighted to stumble across during my research: the owner of the building where the school was housed, an alderman and former mayor, who took the lead in condemning his step-daughter to death on religious grounds, and who also had a habit of marrying much older and much younger women for their money.
Now I’m going to have to go back to my notes for that answer- it was a fairly minor campaign though. I did also find that the spinners of York were summoned to spin hemp cord to turn into cannon fuses... in 1588 just months before the famous Armada. I’m a hand spinner too but so far there’s been no direct link between my craft and war!
That's fascinating! Wonder how much they had to spin to beat the Spanish?
A different skill, I know, but I wrote a story about a lacemaker a while ago. She's commissioned to weave something extraordinary out of human hair - as I'm sure you know, the Victorians had a thing for mourning jewellery made from the hair of their lost loved ones. Of course, there was something more sinister to it than that...
That was inspired by a piece on the Antiques roadshow - low brow compared to your research, but not the only time the show has inspired me 😀
That’s excellent too, regardless of where your inspiration comes from! I’m fascinated by all manner of making by hand, and am currently plotting a short story involving a character who makes cricket balls by hand just for her own pleasure. The heritage list of endangered crafts gave me that idea!