St Bartholomew’s Man is based on all the real facts available, and will take you in accurate period detail, to a time in 12th century England when life was brief and harsh. To the time a humble court jester and musician to William Rufus and King Henry 1st, yet a man with great vision was formed, who was to lay the groundwork to one of the worlds greatest institutions, hundreds of years ahead of it’s time: St Bartholomew’s Hospital.
Tell us about this humble court jester and musician.
Rahere is often described as a man of lowly origins, and a jester – something I find difficult to accept, bearing in mind his outstanding achievements and experiences. I therefore began my novel assuming that he was more highly born; not of the highest, but still an educated man.
Novel? We assumed this was non-fiction. What is it?
Historical Fiction based on fact. A heartwarming story from 900 years ago that still affects us today.
In that case, paint us a picture of your Rahere.
At that time there lived in London a musician of great reputation named Reior (Rahere), who kept his servants in such costly garments that they might seem to come before any prince. Their coats were all of one colour, and it is said that afterwards the nobilities of the land, noting it for a seemly sight, used in like manner to keep their men all in one livery. This Reior was the most skilfullest musician that lived at that time, whose wealth was very great, so that all the instruments whereon his servants plaid were richly garnished with studs of silver, and some were gold. The bowes belonging to their violins were all likewise of pure silver. He was also for his wisdom called to great office in the city, who also builded at his own cost the Priory and Hospital of Saint Bartholomew in Smithfield…
What first attracted you to Rahere and his story?
I was a concert pianist and teacher, so perhaps we are alike.
Tell us about yourself.
I have been a writer for many years. I lived in Trowbridge in Wiltshire for more than twenty years and in Somerset since 1986. At first my published work consisted mainly of music, having been a concert pianist. Since then I have had published over a hundred articles, largely on education, history, topography and biography, for journals such as History Today, The Teacher and The Historian, and written books.
Oh? What books?
Wandering Minstrels, a romance set in the world of the concert pianist.
Two topographical novels concerning English county history and curiosities. Curious Sussex and Curious Wiltshire, available new, Ex Libris Press. Also Alexis, an historical fiction about the great chef Soyer.
How can we follow you online?
I’m 90 now and losing my sight. It is not as easy as it used to be. My son Jon does all the internet things for me.
Oh, OK. You’ve got a website, though, haven’t you?
And social media?
I am trying to work on a book about Offa, King of Mercia.