Cynthia Harrod-Eagles

How It All Began

THE ORIGINAL IDEA for the series was a ‘history without tears’: fictional characters in a real historical background. The plan was for the whole run of British history from the middle ages to the Second World War to be covered in twelve volumes, written alternately by two different writers. This idea almost immediately proved impractical, and I was given the whole twelve.


THE SCHEDULE I was given was of five hundred years broken into sections of thirty to fifty years, with big gaps in between, making sure each chunk contained some interesting historical event or trend. But as the series grew I found myself slipping further and further off schedule. For one thing, I found I wanted to include so much more than had been planned for: not just the kings, battles and Parliaments, but how people lived, what they wore and ate, how they gave birth and died, how they built their houses and related to their servants, how they travelled, what they believed in. And for another thing, the fictional characters took on a life of their own, and many readers became as interested in them as in the history. So the gaps between books got shorter, and the time I covered in each book shrank, but was covered more intensively. The publishers responded to this change by extending the contract beyond twelve, first to seventeen, then twenty, then twenty-five, and now to thirty-four.


So if you are interested in English history - if there are gaps in what you learned at school that you would like to fill – or if you simply enjoy a family saga (and there is no longer one than this anywhere in literature!) then do come and join us at Morland Place.