Marie Antoinette in a super fashionable redingote gown

A beautiful drawing of Marie Antoinette from around 1780. It is not known who drew this portrait but it was sent as a present from Axel de Fersen to his beloved sister Sophie. A redingote, as worn here by the Queen was a very popular style of dress in the 1780s – the name comes from the English ‘riding coat’, […]

A flamboyant lady

A gorgeous portrait by John Singleton Copley of Abigail Bromfield, Mrs Daniel Dennison Rogers, painted in around 1784. I’ve loved this painting ever since I came across it while studying for my degree. I love the drama, the shimmering colours, the rich colours of the sunset in the background, the wildness of the sky and the archly questioning look in […]

A visit to the Petit Trianon in 1784

A beautiful painting by Nikklas Lafrensen le Jeune of the fête given by Marie Antoinette at the Petit Trianon on Monday, 21st June 1784 in honour of Gustave III, King of Sweden. I adore the graceful way that the guests stroll around the illuminated Temple of Love. This painting was part of Gustave’s private collection, kept as a souvenir of […]

Marie Antoinette shocks France with a dress!

Detail from one of the most famous portraits of Marie Antoinette, which was painted by Madame Vigée-Lebrun in 1783. This portrait depicts the 27 year old Queen of France in her favourite outfit, a simple ruffled muslin gown, tied at the waist with a gauze sash and teamed with a ribbon bedecked straw hat. She is posed as though picking […]

Before the Storm, 18th January 2012

Just a quick announcement that Before the Storm, my third novel of iniquity and POSH DOOM in eighteenth century England and France will be released for Kindle on Wednesday, 18th January! I’ll be celebrating the release with a very special giveaway! Based on The Buccaneers by Edith Wharton, Before the Storm is a tale of passion, betrayal and true love […]

The marvellous Merveilleuse

Nothing could be more French than to allow current affairs to influence fashion (just look at the hairstyles concocted by Rose Bertin for Marie Antoinette and her coterie – battleships, babies being born and balloons taking off are just a few examples) and the outrageously dressed Merveilleuses are the finest example of this. Les Merveilleuses (‘The Marvellous Ones’) made their […]

Inside Christ Church, Spitalfields

I’ve written about Christ Church, Spitalfields before but couldn’t resist writing about it again as it is such a stunning building and people don’t often seem to go inside to appreciate just how beautiful and harmonious the interior is. Christ Church was built between 1714 and 1729 by Nicholas Hawksmoor and I think displays his genius more than any of […]

Before the Storm cover!

I am just too excited about this to keep it to myself but HERE at last is the front cover art for my next novel set during the French Revolution, Before the Storm, which will be out next week! How utterly beautiful is this painting? I was seriously stunned when I opened the email and saw it. I love the […]

Imperial family life in Vienna

You don’t have to look far to work out where Marie Antoinette got her taste for informality and a cosy, intimate ‘normal’ family life, that the snobs of Versailles disapproved of so thoroughly. This charming painting by the Archduchess Maria Christina of Austria (‘Mimi’) shows the Imperial family at their leisure on St Nicholas’ Day 1762. In front of the […]

Marie Antoinette’s sister in law, Isabella of Parma

A portrait of the Princess Isabella of Parma. She had the most amazing name – are you ready for this? Princess Isabella Maria Luisa Antonietta Ferdinanda Giuseppina Saveria Dominica Giovanna of Parma. Cor blimey. She was born in Madrid on the 31st December 1741, the daughter of Louis XV’s adored eldest daughter, Louise-Élisabeth, who was the only one of his […]

A quick visit to the Ten Bells, Spitalfields

The Ten Bells is right next to Christ Church in Spitalfields and directly opposite the entrance to the now trendy and bustling Spitalfields Market. There has been a pub on the corner of Fornier Street and Commercial Street since 1752, but the Ten Bells as we know it now has only been in existence since Victorian times, when it served […]

Marie Antoinette and her children at the Tuileries

A charming miniature of Marie Antoinette with Madame Royale and Louis-Charles, painted in early 1790 by François Dumont. It was almost certainly commissioned in 1789 but was not destined to be completed until the family were already imprisoned in the Tuileries and such happy, bucolic pleasures were a distant memory.

St Germain en Laye

I hope you’ve been enjoying the history posts that I scheduled for this month while I crack on with writing my novel about Henrietta Stuart! I think that I may have gone a teensy bit overboard, but I hope you’ll all forgive me for that. I’ve been really enjoying writing this novel as it means I can write about the […]

The fascinating Mademoiselle de Charolais

One of my all time favourite historical novels is Through a Glass Darkly by Karleen Koen, which tells the story of the aristocratic beauty Barbara, her chaotic and wonderful family and her immense love for the charismatic, handsome and much older Roger. It is an amazing sweeping epic that vividly brings to life the early years of the eighteenth century, […]

The downfall of the Comtesse de Stainville

The first chapter of my book Blood Sisters is set in the early 1770s and is based on an incident that involved the unattractive, rather boorish army officer Jacques Philippe de Choiseul, Comte de Stainville and his beautiful wife, Thérèse de Clermont d’Amboise who married on 3 April 1761 in Paris when the groom was forty and his bride barely […]

A sweet boy painted by Boucher

This has been one of my favourite portraits ever since I was a little girl and came across it in a book about Waddesdon Manor. I was really thrilled to see the real thing a couple of years ago when we went there for the day and it was just as lovely as I had always anticipated. The portrait is […]

A halcyon exile at beautiful Chanteloup

A beautiful portrait painted in 1775 by Jacques Wilbaut of the Duc de Choiseul with his mistress, the Comtesse de Brionne and best friend, Abbé Barthélmy, enjoying each other’s company in one of Choiseul’s beautiful salons in his château at Chanteloup. The Duc, once such a favourite of Louis XV and Madame de Pompadour had failed to secure the good […]

The sad tale of why Ville from HIM hates me…

This man hates me. No, really. He does. Many, many years ago I was much cooler than I am now and had pink hair (um, okay I still have pink hair but let’s ignore that for now) and a nose ring and wore corsets and short faux fur skirts with ripped fishnets and big boots and hung out with Boys […]

A row of handsome gentlemen

Les gentilhommes du duc d’Orléans dans l’habit de Saint-Cloud by Félix Philippoteaux (1839) after Louis Carrogis dit Carmontelle (1770). This is a jolly painting for a crisp winter morning isn’t it?