Tracy Borman

Bestselling author and historian Tracy Borman took time to discuss her career, history obsession and her upcoming appearance at the Chalke Valley History Festival. Find out what dastardly deeds caught her attention while writing The Fallen Angel.

-How would you describe yourself in fifty words or less?

Author, historian and broadcaster whose obsession with the Tudors borders on the unhealthy.  I’m also joint Chief Curator of Historic Royal Palaces and Chief Executive of the Heritage Education Trust.

-Why do you love history?

I’ve always loved it and I think that’s innate, rather than something learned.  Apparently my paternal grandfather was a fellow history-lover so perhaps I get it from him, although sadly he died before I was born.  Thanks to my work for Historic Royal Palaces, I spend a lot of time in beautiful historical buildings, but for me what sets my passion for history alight is the research.  The thrill of getting my hands on original documents in The National Archives, the British Library and elsewhere is something that never diminishes, even after all these years of writing and researching.

-Can you think of one specific event that led to this?

I think the reason I’m a historian now is thanks to my ‘A’ level history teacher, who really encouraged my passion for the subject…and made me fall in love with the Tudors.  She also opened my eyes to the fact that history isn’t just about ‘facts’, dates and events; it’s about real people – human beings with emotions just like us.  That changed everything for me.

What drew you to Tudor and Stuart history?

See above.  Mrs Jones has a lot to answer for!  But I also became fascinated with the Stuarts when researching my non-fiction book, Witches: James I and the English Witch Hunts.  It was such a dark and turbulent period of our history, yet one that’s often overlooked.  That research inspired my fiction trilogy, The King’s Witch, The Devil’s Slave and The Fallen Angel.

-Do you have any favourite characters or persons from these eras that appeal to you? Any that you dislike?

My all-time historical heroine is Elizabeth I.  I admire her so much – her self-discipline, courage, shrewdness and the way she confounded expectations as a ‘weak and feeble woman’ ruling over a court and kingdom dominated by men.  Mary, Queen of Scots, on the other hand, deepened the prejudice against female rulers by being reckless, self-indulgent and entirely led by the heart.  The two women couldn’t have been more different – and I think you can tell who’s my favourite!  For the Stuart era, I was really drawn to Anne of Denmark, queen consort of James I.  I think there’s much more to her than meets the eye, particularly with regard to her clandestine links to the Catholic community and, possibly, even the Gunpowder Plotters – as I hint at in my novels.

-What led to your interest in the Duke of Buckingham & James I/VI?

It was the research I carried out for my non-fiction book, Witches.  The transition from the Tudor to the Stuart dynasty led to great uncertainty in England, which soon darkened into hostility towards the new king – and, ultimately, an attempt to blow him and his entire government to the skies.  James himself is an intriguing character – not easy to like, despite his intellectual gifts and wry sense of humour.  As for his favourite, Buckingham, he was an out and out villain – both in my novel, The Fallen Angel, and in real life.  But villains are so much more fun to write about than heroes so I’m grateful for all his dastardly deeds, even if his contemporaries didn’t quite feel the same.

-Tell us one thing you learned while writing The Fallen Angel that blew your mind.

I think it would have to be the fact that Buckingham may have had a hand in James I’s death.  Evidence has been uncovered recently that shows Buckingham had access to poisons and physicians who dealt in them.  He was certainly in close attendance on the king in his final weeks.  It may just be circumstantial – there were often rumours of poison surrounding royal deaths – but let’s just say the dastardly duke had the means.

-What’s your involvement with Chalke Valley History Festival?

I’m proud to be a patron of the festival and have taken part in it every year since 2015, when I postponed my honeymoon in order to be there!  It’s been wonderful to see it get bigger and better every year.  Come rain or shine (and there’s been plenty of both!) it’s the highlight of my events calendar. 

-When will you be appearing?

2pm on Thursday 24 June.

-How can we find you on social media?

Twitter

Instagram

Website 

Purchase your ticket here

About Tracy Borman…

Tracy Borman studied and taught history at the University of Hull and was awarded a PHD in 1997. She went on to a successful career in heritage including working for the Heritage Lottery Fund, The National Archives and English Heritage. She is now Chief Executive of the Heritage Education Trust and also joint Chief Curator for Historic Royal Palaces. She is a trustee of The Buccleuch Living Heritage Trust and The National Archives Foundation, as well as a Patron of Lavenham Library and a Honorary Patron of the Chalke Valley History Festival. She is the author of a number of highly acclaimed books, including Thomas Cromwell: The Untold Story of Henry VIII’s Most Faithful Servant; Matilda: Wife of the Conqueror, First Queen of England; Elizabeth’s Women: The Hidden Story of the Virgin Queen; and Witches: A Tale of Sorcery, Scandal and Seduction. She is also a regular broadcaster and public speaker, giving talks on her books across the UK and abroad.

About Chalke Valley History Festival

The aim is to excite, enthral and entertain about the past. All proceeds from the festival have, since 2012, been directed to the Chalke Valley History Trust, which promotes the understanding of history to all ages, but especially children.

The Chalke Valley History Festival began in June 2011 on a small scale and as a fundraiser for the local cricket club. Club stalwart and historian James Holland had the idea for a festival but it was James Heneage, founder and former CEO of Ottakar’s bookshops and now historical novelist, who suggested a festival dedicated to history.

It began with the help of a number of local volunteers, among whom Peter Bell and Rachel Holland played a big part in that first year and continue to do so today. Jane Pleydell-Bouverie came on board in autumn 2011 and has been at the heart of the festival ever since. The Daily Mail became the festival’s principal sponsor in 2013, and it now consists of a week of talks, discussions, debates, as well as extensive and immersive living history and historic air displays.

Since 2013, the festival has also incorporated the History Festival for Schools. ‘An understanding of the past is essential,’ says Co-Founder James Heneage, ‘without that, it is impossible to make sense of the present or prepare for the future.’

2017 saw the festival move to a new site of over 70 acres in Broad Chalke, but still in the heart of the beautiful Wiltshire Chalke Valley.

Church Bottom, Bury Lane, Broad Chalke,
Near Salisbury, Wiltshire, SP5 5DP

Find out more and purchase tickets here!

Tudors & More

Chalke Valley History Festival 2021

It’s on!!!

The Daily Mail Chalke Valley History Festival 

Wednesday 23rd to Sunday 27th June 

One of the first major festivals to run this year! 

 

This year’s Daily Mail Chalke Valley History Festival is like no other. A slightly  shortened version due to the pandemic, the organisers have none the less packed it with a more complete and wide-ranging programme than ever before. The full line up is now online and can be found at www.cvhf.org.uk.  

The festival promises to offer a full assault on the senses. Those attending will be  able to watch our greatest living playwright and learn how to build a Roman road. There will be a former Archbishop of Canterbury and political party leader alongside  some of the best-known and loved TV historians. There will be demonstrations from the Tudor kitchen, stone age flint-knapping and a Cold War-era armoured brigade headquarters. It will be possible to learn about the dark art of 19th century body snatching, how to make wattle and daub, and learn how to make a Tudor salve and  herbal cure. The head of the UK’s Armed Forces, the best-known shepherd in the  land, and the most eminent international human rights lawyer in the UK will all be speaking. There will be Sword School, a vintage fairground, some of the country’s  most brilliant, successful and eminent historians but also late-night storytelling  around the fire with Dan Snow and Michael Wood, and fast and furious fun with the History Tellers.  

And as with any English country festival, there will be food, glorious food – and  historical fast food too – as well as drink, camping, glamping and live music every  single day of the festival from 1920s flapper music to the ancient ballads of English  folk music. 

Those coming to the festival will be able to see history, touch history, taste history  and smell history too – and all in the stunning ancient downland of the Chalke Valley  – a place of immense history in its own right.  

Festival Chair, James Holland, says: “I’m really very excited about this year’s  festival. Despite the challenges of the last year we’ve been able to produce a really  inclusive and very wide-ranging programme that feels fresh, vibrant and fun. It will be  midsummer, lockdown will be over, and I can’t wait to unleash this historical  pageant.” 

The stellar list of historians and speakers at this year’s festival include: Tracy Borman, Sir Vince Cable, General Sir Nick Carter, Diana Cavendish, Niall FergusonAnne Glenconner, Sir Max Hastings, Charlie Higson, Tom Holland, Katja Hoyer, Cat Jarman, Hermione Lee, Professor Margaret Macmillan, Rana Mitter, Al Murray, Jim Naughtie, Neil Oliver, James Rebanks, Dominic Sandbrook, Dan Snow, Sir Tom Stoppard, Rowan Williams, Marina Wheeler and Michael Wood

Due to government guidelines, there may be restrictions on the number of tickets for sale at the festival this year. The festival strongly advises those wishing to attend to  book tickets early to avoid disappointment. All of the Outdoor Programme will be  available on a single daily ticket (with add-ons for Sword School and fairground  rides), and at a price that has been kept deliberately low and which promises  astonishing value for money awhile tented events will require an individual ticket, as  was the case in the past. Tented ticket prices will, however, also include access to  the Outdoor Programme. 

This year, there will be no Chalke Valley History Festival for Schools, although the  festival is producing a programme of curriculum-based films, ready for the start of the  academic year this September, and which will be entirely free for all teachers, pupils  and schools. A special and separate online portal will be created for this. 

All profits from the festival are ploughed back into the Chalke Valley History Trust,  which operates to promote the enjoyment and better understanding of history for all  ages but especially to school children. 

Tickets go on sale to the general public on Wednesday 19th May

Tickets will be released two days earlier (Monday 17th) May to the Friends membership

Talks given by incredible historians, taken from the past ten years of the festival, can  now be heard on the Chalke Valley History Festival podcast. Entitled #ChalkeTalk, the podcasts are released three times a week. 

For further information, please contact Alex Hippisley-Cox on mobile 07921  127077 or email her at alex@ahipcoxpr.co.uk  

The Daily Mail Chalke Valley History Festival will take place at Church Bottom, Broad Chalke, Salisbury, Wiltshire, SP5 5DS.  

For more details about the Festival, and to see the full programme, please visit  www.cvhf.org.uk

Follow all the news on Twitter at @CVHISTORYFEST & on Facebook and Instagram. 

Image by Russell Emm 

History Gems

I want to let you know about an exciting new podcast, presented by Dr Nicola Tallis and called History Gems. 

The first episode went live this week and features Tracy Borman speaking about Elizabeth I and the Chequers and Essex rings.  The podcast is called History Gems. You can find it on Twitter and Instagram pages at @historygemspod

Listen to an iTunes snippet here or find out more here

Look for History Gems at all your fave podcast sites

Subscribe today!  

On The Tudor Trail

This just in from Natalie Grueninger and On The Tudor Trail…

Over two exciting months, Natalie Grueninger will host weekly discussions on her podcast, Talking Tudors, with a number of leading experts & Boleyn historians. The rich array of topics will cover everything from Boleyn supporters at Henry VIII’s court to Thomas Cromwell’s role in Anne Boleyn’s downfall. Listeners will gain a fresh perspective on one of the most prominent and misunderstood families of the Tudor era, and come face to face with the people behind the famous family name.

In addition to the weekly episodes, there will also be giveaways and guest
posts by some amazing historians/novelists: Tracy Borman, Adrienne
Dillard, Wendy J. Dunn, Andy Demsky and Tamsin Lewis. As well as the
podcasts and guest articles, illustrator Kathryn Holeman will present two
fun Tudor drawing tutorials. But wait, there’s more… The brilliant
Professor Suzannah Lipscomb, will answer your questions about Anne Boleyn!

For more information visit:

On The Tudor Trail

*Do you love Talking Tudors?

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and grow the podcast.*

Podcast

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