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Monday, 23 February 2015 23:15

The hard grind of writing historical novels

“For herein may be seen … murder, hate, virtue, and sin.”Was the term sentencing a man to death used in Richard III’s reign? If a fictional character said the Duke of Clarence had a brain like a pickled walnut, were walnuts around in 1470, let alone pickled? What colour was his duchess’s hair? When was velvet invented? If a knight whistles up his horse and springs from an upstairs windowsill onto the saddle, will it…
Thursday, 01 January 2015 01:58

Happy new year in 2015

Dear Readers, 2014 was a tough year and I apologise if I haven't been in touch through this website as much as I should, but Life has got in the way for a few months culminating in my mother’s death. There are many resolutions I'd wish for this beloved planet of ours, in the coming year: that the people who are supposed to be leaders stop behaving like mere managers and start showing statesmanship and…
Tuesday, 14 October 2014 00:00

Katherine Neville's world: Chewton Mendip

Katherine Neville, the young Yorkist widow in The Golden Widows, was originally from the Midlands, but when she joined the household of her betrothed, young William Bonville, the world of south-west England became her home. The manors of Shute in Devon and Chewton Mendip in Somerset were places she would have known well.   Chewton Mendip is an attractive village in the Mendip Hills, about four miles from the cathedral city of Wells and not far…
Tuesday, 21 October 2014 10:46

Where do Michelmas daisies come from?

I can remember the mauve Michaelmas daisies in my parents’ garden every Autumn in the UK and thought I was very safe in mentioning these flowers in my Wars of the Roses novels since the name originates from St Michael’s Mass. In the Middle Ages, Michaelmas was a feast day in September dedicated to the Archangel Michael and today’s Roman Catholic Church gives St Michael the honour of being the patron saint of grocers, mariners,…
Tuesday, 22 July 2014 07:49

Duke of York slain!

  The story of THE GOLDEN WIDOWS begins in early 1461 so to help set the atmosphere, here is a news item: DUKE OF YORK SLAIN!The kingdom was reeling yesterday from news of a battle close by the town of Wakefield, Yorkshire.  Clifford, Commander of the Queen’s army, announced yesterday that the Duke of York had been slain, together with York’s second son, Edmund, Earl of Rutland, and their cousin, Thomas Neville, but Lord Clifford…
Thursday, 19 June 2014 00:23

About The Golden Widows

In the winter of 1460-61, it would have been hard to predict who would triumph in the bloody encounters between the Houses of York and Lancaster. For the wives of the noble lords caught up in the struggle, wondering whether their menfolk would survive the battles, must have caused much anguish. For those women whose husbands died on the losing side, there was the likelihood of their children being disinherited.    In The Golden Widows,…
It’s amazing what comes of giving author talks. In April after giving a PowerPoint presentation on researching Mistress to the Crown, one of the audience came up and introduce herself. She was the descendant of Margaret Woodville, the niece of Queen Elizabeth Woodville, King Edward IV’s queen. One of her other ancestors was Sir David Matthew of Glamorgan, who saved Edward’s life at the Battle of Towton. Definitely a man who changed the course of…
Thursday, 20 March 2014 06:19

New Book!

Phew! I’m happy to announce that after a very tough year (getting my parents into a care home and closing down the family house), The Golden Widows is finished at long last and will be available in bookshops in August in Australia. It’s a story that is set in the Wars of the Roses about two historic women: one is a Yorkist widow, the other a Lancastrian widow. The Mira design team have come up…
It’s really exciting to come across more information about Mistress Shore. Of course, it’s nowhere near as exciting as finding the skeleton of a king but I’ve been delving into on-line Chancery cases as part of the research for the novel I’m writing at the moment.   An Elizabeth Lambard, gentlewoman, brought two cases for debt before John Brown, Mayor of the Staple of Westminster between March 1482 and March 1483.   The first case was against…
Tuesday, 29 October 2013 22:03

June 2014 News

Latest news... The Golden Widows is the latest title by Isolde Martyn. It will be released in Australia in August 2014 on Harlequin.  
Thursday, 18 July 2013 23:35

News in July

Dear Readers, I have to apologise for a long silence but sometimes life gets in the way and family matters have to come first. Not a new baby this time nor, thankfully, the utter sadness of a funeral but something close.   My aged parents, 94 and 87, have been struggling to stay in their own home. They’d been through two sets of carers over the last year and I’ve been going over to the UK…
Tuesday, 01 January 2013 00:00

Mistress to the Crown

For reviews, a blurb about the book and to read an extract, please visit publications. For more about the real historical Mistress Shore, go to Inspiration for a New Novel.   However, I thought it might be fun here to imagine how a modern day reporter might handle the rumours about the gorgeous Mistress Shore in the 1470s before she met the king.
Wednesday, 19 December 2012 01:36

The next big thing

Wishing all readers a most joyous Christmas and a wonderful 2013!Where would we writers be without you? And to those of you who have sent off a mss and who hope the New Year will bring success at last, may your dreams come true! Authors Richard Harland and Anne Whitehead have kindly tagged me on their blogs, as part of an international chain of book and author interviews called THE NEXT BIG THING. Today it's…
Thursday, 01 November 2012 00:00

Upcoming e-books

FLEUR DE LIS is now available as an e-book which means that readers in North America will be finally able to access FLEUR DE LIS easily. Fleur is about a delightful café owner in Paris in the 1790s and, dear readers, I assure you it is absolutely guillotine-free! THE DEVIL IN ERMINE is now available either as a print-on-demand book or as an e-book. It is the Duke of Buckingham’s take on the events of 1483.…
Thursday, 08 November 2012 07:20

At last! - Mistress to the Crown

I am delighted to finally announce that MISTRESS TO THE CROWN will be in the shops in Australia in February and is being published by Mira Harlequin. It is the story of Elizabeth Lambard, known to history as Mistress “Jane” Shore, who was King Edward IV’s beloved mistress for about eight years and was probably the nicest of the rich and famous of the late fifteenth century. People have always found her story fascinating.  In…
Thursday, 30 September 2010 00:00

Encountering your hero and heroine's descendants

When you write about historical people, it’s always a thrill to meet someone who is actually descended from them. Often, it turns out to be a cadet branch, but when you come across a Dudley, a Hastings and a Tyrell, who can trace their line back to the fifteenth century and further still, it’s quite mind-blowing.
Tuesday, 27 March 2007 00:00

The case of the missing head

I thought you might be interested to hear about ‘The Case of the Bishop’s Missing Head’. Some years ago I came across the fact that Cardinal John Morton’s fine tomb in Canterbury was empty. I haven’t much time for Morton, who was one of King Henry VII’s advisors, and he wasn’t particularly flavour of the month among his contemporaries either. His policy was: if you flaunt your wealth, you can pay more tax, and if…
Tuesday, 01 September 2009 00:00

For the geographically challenged

For those of us who ground our novels in British history, it really is tough when you don’t live there. You can’t just swan off to a Welsh castle where you’ve set your latest book and see what the view is like from the tower, or go sussing out a battle field like Culloden. Truly there is no substitute for seeing the lie of the land in person and you often get good ideas for…
Friday, 01 February 2008 00:00

Hugh Dispenser’s body found?

I was really very excited about this. Those of you who have read The Knight and the Rose may recall the horrible fate of King Edward II’s adviser (and possibly his gay lover), Hugh Despenser the younger, who was hanged, drawn and quartered in Hereford in 1326. So you can imagine how fascinating it was to read Laura Clout’s article on the discovery of his body (well, parts of it) in the UK Telegraph.
Tuesday, 29 November 2011 00:00

Inspiration for a new novel

The National Library of Australia has recently opened a Treasures Gallery with some very interesting exhibits: a letter from Jane Austen to her sister, Cassandra, the original Waltzing Matilda manuscript, Captain William Bligh’s list of the Bounty mutineers and the Endeavour journal of Captain Cook. Yet the item that interests me most is a 1790s playbill advertising the drama Jane Shore which was being performed in the fledgling colony of Botany Bay. This little handbill…

Upcoming events

Saturday 20 August 2016

Romance Writers of Australia Conference, Adelaide
Suspense fiction author Jaye Ford and Isolde Martyn
Workshop: ‘I am Woman: Creating Strong Heroines’

ARRA Author Book Signing Event
Colley/Hindmarsh Rooms Stamford Grand Hotel
Moseley Place Glenelg SA
For booking:

Sunday 7th August 2016
Georgette Heyer Conference
Isolde Martyn giving a talk on ‘Regency Buck: creating a precedent’
Epping Club, Epping, Sydney
For more info:Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Phone: 0419 145 779


Past events


Saturday 21st May 2016
Historian Professor Jonathan Wooding
Speaker at the Plantagenet Society of Australia on
‘"Arthurian Sites" in Western Britain: History and Heritage’
Meeting Room, Hornsby Library, Hornsby, Sydney

Saturday 19th March 2016
Historian Professor Carole Cusack
Speaker at the Plantagenet Society of Australia on
“Plantagenet Corpses, Burial Sites and Memorials.”
Meeting Room, Hornsby Library, Hornsby, Sydney


Thursday 12 March, 2015
ABC Radio National programme:
Books and Arts Daily
Michael Cathcart talks with Jesse Blackadder, Isolde Martyn and Lisa Storrs on what historians and historical novelists can learn from each other.

Saturday 21 March, 2015
Historical Novels Society of Australasia Conference, Balmain, Sydney
Panel Discussion: Tall Tales and True: How Story Tellers Imagine History
How do historical novelists weave history into fiction? What draws an author to choose a particular era, and what research do they undertake to bring past times to life? Jean Bedford talks with Isolde Martyn, Johanna Nicholls, Juliet Marillier and Craig Cliff about these choices.
More information here

Saturday 19 September 2015
The Plantagenet Society of Australia
Talk: Isolde Martyn - Medieval Widows
More information here

December 2015
Publication in the UK of Isolde’s article on ‘Bishop Morton’s Missing Head’ in
Ricardian Bulletin of the Richard III Society.


March 2014
Article for Women's History Month

27 March 2014
Author talks, NSW
10:30 to 11:30am
Tomaree Library and Community Centre
Salamander Bay, Port Stephens
Raymond Terrace Library

3 April 2014
Informal workshop
Milton, NSW

Article on subplots
April edition of Hearts Talk,
Romance Writers of Australia Newsletter

May 2014
New paperback edition of
Mistress to the Crown

August 2014

Publication of
The Golden Widows

9 August 2014
At the ARRA book signing event
Sydney with more than 70 romance authors

13 August 2014
The Society of Women Writers NSW Inc.
State Library of New South Wales, Sydney

8 October 2014
Guest speaker: Medievally Blonde
The Society of Women Writers NSW Inc.
State Library of New South Wales, Sydney

15 October 2014
Talk on The Golden Widows
Turramurra Library
5 Ray Street, Turramurra
Time: 5-30 for 6pm
Bookings: Call 9424 0480, visit any Ku-ring-gai branch or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .
Learn more about this event here.

30 October 2014
Talk on Mistress to the Crown and The Golden Widows
Abbotsleigh Adult discussion Group
Time: 10am-12 noon

7 November 2014
Author Talk on  The Golden Widows
Hornsby Library Meeting Room
Time: 10:30am
Bookings essential: online here.

26 November 2014
“Crowns and ermine: medieval queens and noblewomen”
A talk by Isolde Martyn and Julia Redlich, former fiction editor of Woman’s Day
Raymond Terrace Public Library
Time: 10.30 -11.30 am
For more info: contact: 02 4980 0111
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 02 4980 0111
Tomaree Public Library, Salmander Bay, Port Stephens
time: 2.00-3.00 pm
For more info: 4982 0670  or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The Plantagenet Society of Australia, 2014
November Meeting:
Andrew McKinnin, one of the organisers and combatants of international jousting, is giving a talk on: “Medieval Tournaments and Traditions”
For more information on the society, please click here


10 December
German edition available:
Mätresse der Krone

August: Romance Writers of Australia Conference
Fremantle: Riding the Waves
“Sailing between the Heads”
Isolde Martyn and Christine Stinson are giving a workshop on managing Point of View.

12-14 July - Richard III Australasian convention
Novotel, Darling Harbour - Sydney

Release of Mistress to the Crown UK edition

Ebook of Fleur de Lis Now available online

“Richard III Day”
To be arranged for second half of 2013

Saturday 16 March, 2pm
Celebration of Pride and Prejudice at Parliament House, Sydney

26 February Author talk:
Turramurra Library 6 for 6-30pm

14 February St Valentine’s Day
Panel at Ashfield Library
to celebrate Pride and Prejudice

31 January
Book launch of Mistress to the Crown

Plantagenet Society of Australia
Sat 19 Jan if you’re in Sydney:
Discussion: “How good was your Knight? Persecutors or protectors in the Middle Ages?”
More info: Plantagenet Society of Australia