Barbara Erskine was our Guest Editor in July 2012 - click here - to see the books that inspired her writing.
Barbara Erskine is the author of the internationally bestselling novel Lady of Hay, which was translated into a dozen languages and has sold over a million copies world wide. This was followed by another bestseller, Kingdom of Shadows and by a collection of short stories, Encounter, which has met with wide popular acclaim.
Child of the Phoenix is based on the story of one of Barbara Erskine ‘s own ancestors, and provides a link between some of the characters from Lady of Hay and Kingdom of Shadows, again encapsulating the authors dual themes of the supernatural and of history.
In the absorbing world of the historical novel, readers of Barbara Erskine are held in thrall. Child of the Phoenix is set in the turbulent 13th century and tells of Eleyne, a Welsh princess whose life becomes inextricably linked with the destinies of the English, Welsh and Scottish crowns. The story is partly based on lore passed down through the author’s family – for Eleyne is one of her distant ancestors. But as Barbara Erskine points out: ‘Eleyne is a composite, based on family legend of the type which converts dingy oil paintings into Rembrandts and Victorian paste beads into aquamarines’.
A history graduate, and with one of her two earlier bestsellers set in much the same period, Barbara Erskine is well versed in the brutality of the Middle Ages. It was a time when noblewomen underwent arranged marriages, were traded both for their dowries and to cement the precarious political alliances of their male relatives. Despite their precarious social standing, women did hold power with their husbands away in Parliament or at war. More sinister was the manipulation of those who became involved in illicit romances – the dangerous truth would be concealed until it could be used to advantage.
Author photo © Karolina Webb
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