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Historical Fiction Book Group: Help choose books for January and February

From: Justin
Sent on: Sunday, October 30, 2011 5:20 PM

Hi everyone.

Firstly, welcome to all those who've joined the group recently. Very much looking forward to seeing you at one of our meetups soon.
We next meet on 5 December to discuss "Memoirs of Hadrian". See here for details and to RSVP:

It's now time to get our books chosen for the first two meetups in the new year.
As you may know, we decided to adopt a slightly different approach. In January (Monday 16 January), we will discuss a non-fiction biography on a historical character. Then, the following meetup (Monday 27 February), we will read a historical novel based on the life of the same person.

Below you will find a shortlist to choose from. You will six historical characters listed, and with each a corresponding biography and novel.
Please take a look and decide which you wish to vote for and then go to the Polls section to vote:

The most popular choice will be our historical character for January and February.

Please note that in putting together this list, I've tried to avoid the Ancient World given that we've focused on that quite a bit recently. I've also tried to give a bit of variety and avoid some of the more predictable female historical characters. I have relented and included one Tudor, but it's not one of the more obvious ones.

The characters are:

  • Alfred the Great
  • Katherine Parr
  • Christopher Marlowe
  • Nell Gwyn
  • Madame Tussaud
  • Ernest Hemingway

See details of the books on each person below.

Thanks and happy reading


The shortlisted books are as follows (date shown is of first publication). I've supplied a link to the current paperback edition on Amazon but you of course may be able to find older and/or cheaper editions at Amazon or elsewhere.

NB. A few of the biographies are strictly speaking out of print, but I've made sure that they are all easily available secondhand at a reasonable price.

Alfred the Great

Biography: "Alfred the Great" by Justin Pollard (2006)
Pages: 384


Novel: “The Last Kingdom” by Bernard Cornwell (2004)
Pages: 352


Katherine Parr

Biography: "Katherine the Queen: The Remarkable Life of Katherine Parr" by Linda Porter (2011)
Pages: 384

Novel: "The Sixth Wife" by Jean Plaidy (1953)
Pages: 368

Christopher Marlowe

Biography: "The World of Christopher Marlowe" by David Riggs (2004)
Pages: 432

Novel: "Dead Man in Deptford" by Anthony Burgess (1993)
Pages: 288

Nell Gwyn

Biography: "Nell Gwyn" by Charles Beauclerk (2005)
Pages: 432

Novel: "The Darling Strumpet" by Gillian Bagwell (2011)
Pages: 400

Madame Tussaud

Biography: "Waxing Mythical: The Life and Legend of Madame Tussaud" by Kate Berridge (2006)
(some other editions titled "Madame Tussaud: A Life in Wax")
Pages: 368

Novel: "Madame Tussaud" by Michelle Moran (2011)
Pages: 432

Ernest Hemingway

Biography (memoir, in this case): "A Moveable Feast" by Ernest Hemingway (1964)
Pages: 144

Novel: "The Paris Wife" by Paula McLain (2010)
Pages: 400

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