Publisher: Pen & Sword
William Harrison Ainsworth (1805 – 1882) is probably the most successful 19th Century writer that most people haven’t heard of. Journalist, essayist, poet and, most of all, historical novelist, Ainsworth was a member of the early-Victorian publishing elite, and Charles Dickens’s only serious commercial rival until the late-1840s, his novels Rookwood and Jack Shepherd beginning a fashion for tales of Georgian highwaymen and establishing the legend of Dick Turpin firmly in the National Myth. He was in the Dickens’ circle before it was the Dickens’ circle and counted among his friends the literary lions of his age: men like Charles Lamb, J.G. Lockhart, Leigh Hunt, W.M. Thackeray and, of course, Dickens; the publishers Henry Colburn and Richard Bentley; and the artists Sir John Gilbert, George Cruikshank, and ‘Phiz’ (Hablot K. Browne). He also owned and edited Bentley’s Miscellany (whose editorship he assumed after Dickens), the New Monthly Magazine, and Ainsworth’s Magazine. In his heyday, Ainsworth commanded a massive audience until a moral panic – the so-called ‘Newgate Controversy’ – about the supposedly pernicious effects on working class youth of the criminal romances on which his reputation was built effectively destroyed his reputation as a serious literary novelist.
to be true stories.
Publisher: Pen & Sword
It is a sobering thought that until the closing years of the twentieth century, Britain’s courts were technically able to impose the death penalty for a number of offences; both civil and military. Although the last judicial hangings took place in 1964, the death penalty, in theory at least, remained for a number of offences. During the twentieth century, 865 people were executed in Britain, and of those only 3 were ever posthumously pardoned. This book details each and every one of those executions, and in many cases highlights the crimes that brought these men and women to the gallows.
The book also details the various forms of capital punishment used throughout British
history. During past centuries people were burned at the stake, had the skin flayed from
their bodies, been beheaded, garrotted, hung, drawn and quartered, stoned, disemboweled, buried alive and all under the guidance of a vengeful law, or at least what passed for law at any given period. This book spares no detail in chronicling these events and the author has painstakingly collected together every available piece of evidence to provide as clear a picture as possible of a time when the law operated on the principle of an eye for an eye.
The author, Gary M. Dobbs, is a true-crime historian and has spent many hours researching the cases featured within these pages to bring the reader a definitive history of judicial punishment during the twentieth century, and this carefully researched, well-illustrated and enthralling text will appeal to anyone interested in the darker side of history.
Welsh author Gary M. Dobbs first saw print as a fiction writer. Using the pen name Jack
Martin he is responsible for a string of best-selling western novels as well as the hugely
popular crime series, Granny Smith. The latter published under his own name.
A Date with the Hangman, is his fourth major non-fiction work following the successful
Cardiff and the Valleys in the Great War, Cardiff and the Valleys at War 1939 – 45 and Dark Valleys, all of which were also published by Pen and Sword.
Publication: January 2020
King Richard III remains one of the most controversial figures in British history. Matthew Lewis’s new biography aims to become a definitive account by exploring what is known of his childhood and the impacts it had on his personality and view of the world. He would be cast into insecurity and exile only to become a royal prince before his tenth birthday.
As Richard spends his teenage years under the watchful gaze of his older brother, Edward IV, he is eventually placed in the household of their cousin, the Earl of Warwick, remembered as the Kingmaker; but as the relationship between a king and his most influential magnate breaks down, Richard is compelled to make a choice when the House of York fractures. After another period in exile, Richard returns to become the most powerful nobleman in England. The work he involves himself in during the years that follow demonstrates a drive and commitment but also a dangerous naïveté.
When crisis hits in 1483, it is to Richard that his older brother turns on his death bed. The events of 1483 remain contentious and hotly debated, but by understanding the Richard who began that year, it will become clearer what drove some of his actions and decisions. Returning to primary sources and considering the evidence available, this new life undoes the myths and presents a real man living in tumultuous times.
Matthew Lewis is an author and historian with particular interest in the medieval period. His books include a history of the Wars of the Roses, a biography of Richard, 3rd Duke of York, and two novels of historical fiction telling the life of King Richard III and the aftermath of the Battle of Bosworth. He also writes a history blog, sharing thoughts and
snippets. He can be found on Twitter @MattLewisAuthor.
Publication: March 2020
Ronald Koorm explores the complex relationship between Bletchley Park and its support codebreaking outstations, the background to the Enigma encoding machine, and how Eastcote became the largest codebreaking outstation during the war. He analyses the development of improvements on Alan Turing’s Bombe machine, the contribution of the WRNS (Wrens) in operating the machines, and some of the social history showing how those Wrens from varying social backgrounds displayed outstanding teamwork under immense pressure at the codebreaking sites.
Post-war, Eastcote became GCHQ prior to moving to Cheltenham, and there were multiple uses of the site, including Cold War counter-intelligence operations. The author explores the link between Alan Turing and others in terms of the quest for Artificial Intelligence, and how talented individuals during the war helped shape the future. Backing Bletchley includes previously unpublished diagrams, charts and illustrations of the story of the outstations, which shed further light on the extraordinary historic events that occurred at them.
Ronald Koorm ran his own surveying and design consultancy for many years. He has lectured in various subjects including codebreaking and outstations during the Second World War. His research over recent years has been on Eastcote, codebreaking and the development to GCHQ. His diary for talks on the subject for 2020‒21 is almost full. He is an active member of the Access Association, He has written articles for RICS and for other journals and blogs for bodies such as the Construction Industry Council.
Publication: January 2020
Isabella of France married Edward II in January 1308, and afterwards became one of the most notorious women in English history. In 1325, she was sent to her homeland to negotiate a peace settlement between her husband and her brother Charles IV, king of France. She refused to return. Instead, she began a relationship with her husband’s deadliest enemy, the English baron Roger Mortimer. With the king’s son and heir, the future Edward III, under their control, the pair led an invasion of England which ultimately resulted in Edward II’s forced abdication in January 1327. Isabella and Mortimer ruled England during Edward III’s minority until he overthrew them in October 1330.
A rebel against her own husband and king, and regent for her son, Isabella was a powerful, capable and intelligent woman. She forced the first ever abdication of a king in England, and thus changed the course of English history. Examining Isabella’s life with particular focus on her revolutionary actions in the 1320s, this book corrects the many myths surrounding her and provides a vivid account of this most fascinating and influential of women.
Kathryn Warner holds two degrees in medieval history from the University of Manchester. She is considered a foremost expert on Edward II and an article from her on the subject was published in the English Historical Review. She has run a website about him since 2005 and a Facebook page about him since 2010 and has carved out a strong online presence as an expert on Edward II and the fourteenth century in general. Kathryn teaches Business English as a foreign language and lives between Dusseldorf and Cumbria.