12 October 2015

Shining Light on...

Welcome to a slightly different Blog Tour... 
every Tuesday during October I will be shining a light on some of the women of my novels 
- and inviting some other fabulous authors to do the same!

Join the tour!
PLEASE TWEET: #LightOnOurLadies


There were two Edith's in Harold Godwineson's life (that's King Harold II - the last English King who died defending his kingdom from foreign invasion on October 14th 1066.) When writing Harold The King I had great difficulty keeping the information for the Ediths apart (the same applies to all  the different Harold's!) I came to the conclusion that there was a shortage of Names for Baby books during the Saxon period. In the end, I changed the spelling for my leading ladies: Edith and Edyth. 

Well, strictly speaking there were three Ediths  - but I'm going to concentrate on the two who were involved throughout most of Harold's life. His sister Edith Godwinesdaughter, and his 'common-law' wife Edyth Swanneck, or Edyth the Fair.

My novel of Harold's life and the events leading to the Battle of Hastings that October day is just that, a novel. It is fiction, but it is imagination woven around the facts. Think of these facts as the skeleton framework; it is the author's job to fill in the muscle, flesh, hair and eye colour - and character - with imagination, and a little intuition perhaps.

Facts: Edyth Swanneck
  • Harold took Edyth Swanneck as his 'common law' wife (i.e he didn't have a formal Christian-blessed marriage within a church).
  • Her father was a minor nobleman (a thegn) from Nazeing in Essex
  • They were 'man and wife' for over twenty years
  • They had at least six children
  • Harold had to set Edyth aside when he was crowned King in January 1066 in order to seal an alliance with the Earls of the North of England. (That's the third 'Edith' - but it is also another story for another blog!)
Probable facts: 
  • Edyth Swanneck nursed Harold back to health after a serious illness
  • She had to identify Harold's mutilated body after the battle
  • She fled into exile after 1066
Facts Edith Godwinesdaughter
  • She married Edward (the Confessor,) King of England
  • He set her aside, sending her to a nunnery,  in 1051/2 when the Earl of Wessex, her father, Godwine, fell out with the King and was exiled along with the rest of the family
  • Edward took her back as wife when Godwine was re-instated
  • The couple had no children
  • Edith used to sit at Edward's feet during public audiences or council business
  • She supported her brother, Tostig, not Harold, when there was a family crisis in 1065/6
  • She supported Duke William of Normandy after Harold's defeat and death at Hastings
Probable facts:
  • She was well aware that either Edward was purposefully celibate, impotent, or gay
  • She supported Duke William in order to retain her position as Dowager Queen, retain her lands and wealth.
Buy The Book (UK edition)
Buy the Book (US edition)
It was a combination of these facts that sparked my interest in writing the novel, way back in 1998. If Harold loved Edyth so much, why did he set her aside? How did they meet, how did the love between them develop? I pictured her as a caring, gentle, loving woman who gave everything for Harold and her sons and daughters. I feel her tears and heartbreak throughout that entire year of 1066! And more significant, how on earth  did that woman find the courage to walk a bloody battlefield littered with dead men and horses in order to find what was left of her beloved husband? Of course, she was doing it to find his body in order to give him an honourable burial ... but even so! What courage she must have had!

And Edith - I saw her as spoilt, precocious and manipulative. A daughter among brothers, molly-coddled by father and brothers alike, particularly her favourite, Tostig (who was probably the nearest to her in age). I saw her as always getting her own way, stamping her foot and having a tantrum if she didn't. Maybe she wasn't like that at all - but it is a fiction author's prerogative to see their characters in their own way.

And I know this is extremely clichéd but the final reason I decided to write Harold the King was because I had a very vivid dream - right down to detail of clothing, dialogue and action. It was like watching a movie.

Four men were riding beside a river. I knew straight away who they were: Earl Godwine and his sons Swegn, Harold and Tostig. They had two dogs with them who were running ahead and sniffing at the rushes along the river bank. The river was the Lee at what is now Waltham Abbey.
Swegn and Tostig were arguing. They were always arguing. The dogs put up a pair of ducks and were called back. Swegn laughed in a derogatory manner and pointed out a girl hiding beneath the trees on the far bank, called her a little slut.

Harold had already seen her, had watched her hurry to hide from the loud, angry-sounding men, and even at this distance he was attracted to her, wondered who she was.

And then my dream changed (as dreams do). I saw the girl running up a steep meadow, hurrying home, her great, lolloping dog at her side. Her cloak was fluttering in the breeze. It was a bright, kingfisher blue, and I knew that this was the young Edyth Swannneck, the love of Harold's entire life.

 I wrote the scene exactly as I had seen it. It became chapter two of the novel.

NOTE: Harold the King  is the UK edition title in the USA and Canada it is I Am The Chosen King
exactly the same book, different publishers, different titles.

Buy The Book (UK edition)
Buy the Book (US edition)

Buy the books in paperback or on Kindle as above or 

* * * 
By  contrast we have some very different ladies to shine a light upon...

Regina Jeffers has worn many hats over her lifetime: daughter, student, military brat, wife, mother, grandmother, teacher, tax preparer, journalist, choreographer, Broadway dancer, theatre director, history buff, grant writer, media literacy consultant, and award-winning author of Austenesque and Regency era romance. 
Living outside of Charlotte, NC, she does not consider herself a snowbird, but rather an adventurer with a penchant for warm weather. 
Jeffers novels take the ordinary and add a bit of mayhem. Meanwhile, she masters the tension in her  life with a bit of gardening and the exuberance of her grand joys.

and please welcome Miss Elizabeth Bennet... 
You are the last man in the world whom I could ever be prevailed on to marry. 
But is he? Can Elizabeth Bennet come to terms with the fact the one man she most despises is the one man who owns her heart? Find out ...reginajeffers.wordpress.com - and win a giveaway book!

Meet Also Diana Wilder...

Diana Wilder comes from a family of storytellers and people-watchers. A childhood spent traveling with her military family gave her plenty of opportunities to weave stories around the places and people that she encountered.  Her first novel, written on lined paper and barely legible, was a story of the Hawaii of Kamehameha the Great. The Safeguard, born of a lifelong fascination with its period, features several of her ancestors who were in the area at that time. She says it is difficult to be bored when there is history to read and people to write about.
And her shining lady, Lavinia Wheeler: Born into the cream of Southern society in Savannah, Georgia, Lavinia Wheeler was raised to run an estate with a light touch. That training proves to be of some use when the American Civil War comes roaring to her doorstep. 

Plus a chance to win a book - go here!


And also Meet: Elizabeth Revill 


A professional actress for many years with extensive experience in theatre, radio, film and television fuelled Elizabeth's passion to write. Ever since she was a little girl I enjoyed writing stories and would keep friends and family entertained with her world of make believe. Born in Birmingham, Elizabeth now lives in North Devon.


who introduces us to WWII District nurse Carrie -
Carrie's strength, passion and fire prove her to be a determined woman who knows what she wants. Her spiritual and emotional journey survive a heart wrenching struggle of tangled, traumatic and life affirming experiences, which shape her into a woman never to be forgotten.  click here to read more! 

* * * 
Next Tuesday - Shining Light on some more Ladies! We meet a woman who walked a knife edge between the demands of her dangerous family, and those of her own conscience, and a former Praetorian Guard sent to Berlin to investigate silver smuggling,..


If you would like to win a book by Helen Hollick 
send a message via my main website 
and automatically enter my monthly giveaway draw! 

The Full Shining Light Tour



Week Two : Helen Hollick (Women of 1066) with Regina JeffersElizabeth Revill and Diana Wilder



Week Three : Helen Hollick (King Arthur’s women) paired with Alison Morton  and Sophie Perinot



Week Four : Helen Hollick (the Sea Witch women) with Anna Belfrage and  Linda Collison


22 comments:

  1. It is so exciting to come out of my own little historical cage and meet not only other writer-ladies, but their own Shining Ladies. October Tuesdays are now something special to look forward to.

    Thank you again, Helen, for taking this task on. The Emmas, Ediths, Lavinia, Miss Elizabeth Bennet and Carrie would have approved and (I can vouch for that) so would have my Princess Nefret.

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    1. Thanks Inge - I do wonder why I volunteer to run these sort of things, then I get lovely comments like yours and know why!

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  2. I am spellbound by your dream, Helen, and how it became part of your story. And the abundance of Ediths! Also thrilled to meet the other authors "under the light" this week -- Regina Jeffers, Diana Wilder, and Elizabeth Revill -- and their fascinating female protagonists that span the centuries. Keep those fires burning, ladies!

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    1. Thanks Linda - that dream was very powerful and I still vividly remember it, even after all these years! (about 16?)

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  3. I never liked Edith Godwinsdaughter. Never. As to Edith the Fair, what a woman! Great post - will hop along to the others and learn more about other shining ladies.

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    1. I think she was a spoilt little madam!

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  4. This is really an exciting new bolg 'tour' cant wait for next weeks Lady

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    1. Thank you Elizabeth - I guess I'd better get on a write next week's hadn't I? LOL

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  5. Another fascinating post. Interesting history that comes alive. And a host of new authors to explore. Not only that, it's a relief to hear that someone else has "the dreams."

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    1. Thanks Moontide - I'm thrilled that I've got such a fantastic group of authors joining me (hmm what's a group of authors? A chapter? A Page? A Word...?

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  6. I love these opportunities to gain insight to novels I'd not otherwise know about so I'm off to visit the other blogs. I've recently read and enjoyed Harold the King so these ladies are fresh in my mind. My Grandad Goodwin claimed his family, from Suffolk decended from part of Harold's family so it added extra seasoning. Best wishes Yvonne

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    1. thanks - and I'm glad you enjoyed reading Harold The King - especially as he might be 'family' !

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  7. How fascinating to read your engaging blog. I had never heard of Harold Godwineson until I was helping one of the grandchildren with his homework. Now to read more about his family, his manipulative daughter Edith, and the love of his life Edyth my interest is more than piqued.

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    1. Best way to discover history - read good historical fiction!

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  8. Such wonderful stuff here, Helen. I always remember the exact part of my life when I read your Emma and Harold books - it was just at the point when the youngest of my three babies was sleeping through the night and I had time to luxuriate once more between the pages of books, knowing that I would get more than a page or two read before the next interruption. It was a time to get back into two beloved pastimes of mine - history, and reading!

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    1. Thanks Annie - oh I remember those days when my daughter was a baby and I didn't have time (or energy) to read. I solved it by sitting down with her and reading aloud. She loved the sound of my voice and slept, I got through another chapter!

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  9. I love reading your stories of King Harold. This is a time period of which I hold some general knowledge, but I nothing nothing of the "intrigue." Your vision for the story was equally as fascinating.

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    1. thanks Regina - I grew very fond of Harold, and the exact opposite about William!

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  10. Your new type of blog is interesting to so many of us... Love what you do Helen

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  11. How fascinating, your vision of the very first meeting between Harold and Edyth. Her story was so fascinating... And her persecution by William the Bastard was frightening. What a lady!

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Helen