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My Writing

Here you’ll find extracts from my novel, my articles and my poetry.

Mistress of Dartington Hall

An excerpt from 'The Dartington Bride'.

Roberda's first steps as the new Mistress of Dartington Hall

Chapter Eleven

Mistress of Dartington Hall

Spring 1572

My mouth fell open and I froze on the threshold, letting my eyes drink in the splendour of Dartington Hall. A soaring forest of carved oak beams supported the huge span of the roof high above my head. I slowly let out my breath as I watched the banners fluttering gently from the beams and took in the stone corbels, each with an angel bearing the arms of some great knight on a painted shield. Wispy tendrils of smoke rose from a fire smouldering in a fireplace even larger than …


An excerpt from 'The Dartington Bride'.

Sir Arthur Champernowne arrives in Ducey, but he comes alone

Spring 1571

In the month of May, as nodding bluebells carpeted our orchards, Sir Arthur Champernowne came to Ducey. He came alone.

I waited on the doorstep behind my parents as the red-faced Englishman dismounted and swaggered between the ranks of the soldiers Alain du Bois had drilled into a guard of honour.

‘But where is his son?’ I faltered, my voice no more than a breath. ‘Where is Gawen Champernowne? Where is the man I am to wed? The man I must serve till the end of my days?’

‘Hush,’ Maman hissed.

‘But, Maman! Can’t he even find the …

Edgecumbe’s Escape

The legend of the Chapel in the Woods at Cotehele in Cornwall — see my blog post — is such a cracking story I thought it would be a good writing exercise to see how it might work as a piece of fiction.

This is very much a first draft but, who knows, one day it may become part of something bigger.


Joan raised a delicate hand, her fingers trembling a little, as she checked the ornate silver pin that held her wimple in place. As she glanced up, she noticed the rooks circling high over the tall trees beyond the courtyard walls, their wings standing out as black ticks against the muted sky. Disturbed from their peaceful roosts, the birds’ shrill cries echoed through the damp autumn air. But it was not the rooks’ raucous chorus that had made Joan leave the comforting warmth of the crackling fire in the hall. Riders had thundered up to her gate, hooves …

The Madre de Deus — a scene that didn’t find its way into the final version of a Woman of Noble Wit

The Madre de Deus – a scene that didn’t find its way into the final version of a Woman of Noble Wit

When I wrote A Woman of Noble Wit I was determined to tell her story, not his. But I found that in the later stages of Katherine’s life her famous boys were taking over far too much of the action. So I decided to end the main narrative on the accession of Queen Elizabeth, with a short “afterward”. That meant I had to leave out quite a few scenes, including this one.

It is September 1592 and we find Katherine Raleigh, now a widow in her seventies, dozing in the garden behind her house close by the Place Gate, near Exeter Cathedral.


Katherine woke with a start. She hauled herself into a more comfortable position on the wooden bench and drew a deep breath of apple-scented air into her lungs. As she surveyed the trees growing along the red-stone walls, boughs weighed down with rosy fruit, a satisfied smile spread slowly across her face. For an instant she felt young again, as if the lines and wrinkles that …

Epilogue - Sir Walter Raleigh

An excerpt from 'A Woman of Noble Wit'.

A Woman of Noble Wit is not Sir Walter Raleigh's story. It is his mother's story. Only in the epilogue is he given a voice as he awaits his fate in his cell on his final night on earth. in this extract his thoughts return to his childhood and the woman who taught him to read; the woman of noble wit who inspired him to follow his dreams.


Books had been his closest companions all his days. Though he’d sailed the wide oceans and seen wonders with his own eyes, it was the treasures in the chest of books he took with him everywhere that always proved his inspiration and his solace. Now there was but one book left to him, his Bible, in which he had written those last lines.

The last of so many words: all those paeans he had written to his gracious Queen, that glittering, clever, imperious lady, gone now; his history of the world, still unfinished; and all his other attempts, some …

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