|Beautiful Portballintrae on the Northern Irish coast, where I've been doing a lot of my writing|
I have just returned from a flying three-day visit to London to carry out research for my next book, Young and Damned and Fair, a biography of Queen Catherine Howard. It was a macabre but fascinating trip, which gave me the opportunity to look at some of the original documents concerning Catherine and her tragic fate.
I wanted to apologise for posting so infrequently over the last few months; they have been manic. My play, The Gate of the Year, a modernised imagining of the French Revolution, was revived in Belfast in December, and since then, my schedule has been consumed. I adore being busy, so I'm enjoying myself. I've also released my book with Made Global, A History of the English Monarchy from Boadicea to Elizabeth I, which is available now, and we're currently organising a blog tour for it. I've been giving talks in London and Belfast - one about The Gate of the Year and the interactions between history and fiction, and another about the Harden-Eulenburg Affair and the crisis of personal monarchy in Wilhelm II's Germany. I'm also thrilled and delighted to say that my first novel Popular is being adapted for a 10-part radio series in Northern Ireland, and there is some very, very exciting further news in the pipeline about another potential theatre tour - and a documentary about the novels! Which I'll be able to give more details about, very soon.
From this summer, I've also taken over as editor of the e-magazine Tudor Life, which is a subscription magazine featuring articles from experts, enthusiasts, art critics and reviewers, all of whom are writing about the Tudor, early modern and medieval world. I've been writing a column for the magazine since its first edition and it is so exciting to be involved in this next stage!
Over the next few months, our issues' themes will include vulnerability in Tudor Britain - for which I've contributed an article entitled "The Love That Dare not speak its name?: Homosexuality and moral complexity in Tudor England". (There's a short extract at the end of this post!) As well as issues on coronations, the Tudors in movies and fiction, attitudes to death and the afterlife, and the impact of the Protestant Reformation. Along with the magazine's wonderful regular contributors, we'll be hosting articles from people like Leanda de Lisle, Amy Licence, Toni Mount, Dominic Pearce, Conor Byrne, and Kathryn Warner.
At the end of the month, I'll be undertaking another research trip in England, so I've decided that I'll post a few videos and short articles to this blog while I'm there. My next few proper-length articles for this blog will be a few pieces I have musing on the nature of being British in the 21st century and answering the questions of if the national identity is in crisis and, if so, why.
I also have an Instagram and Facebook page, which I post on regularly. It has been such a pain not being able to post as often as I used to on this blog, although it's certainly for the best reasons. I don't want to post anything too distracting or half-hearted, so thank you for bearing with me and for all your encouragement with pursuing this biography. I hope it lives up to your faith in it, and your wonderful wishes!
An excerpt from The Love that Dare not speak its name?: Homosexuality and moral complexity in Tudor England by Gareth Russell - published in the July 2015 edition of Tudor Life magazine
Within the aristocracy, attitudes were also much more heterogeneous than we might suppose. In the early 1600s, the Countess of Suffolk could discuss the King’s affair with the Duke of Buckingham with discretion and minimal embarrassment. A typical Renaissance education was heavy on the study of the Classics. This meant that young royals and nobles grew up being familiar with a few Classical myths that dealt with same-sex relationships, like the story of Jupiter and Ganymede, or Achilles and Patroclus in the Trojan saga – or even unambiguously homosexual historical figures, like the Roman Emperor Hadrian. Traditional moralists in Italy and France certainly blamed over-exposure to pagan histories in the classroom and universities for the alleged rise in ‘sodomy’ among young upper-class men in the late 1400s and early 1500s.