Judith Kinghorn, author of "The Last Summer" and "The Memory of Lost Senses" (available January 2014) answers 10 questions about her favorite time period in history, her favorite figures from history, and the age old question of coffee or tea.
1. If you could go back in time and be any figure from history, who would it be?
I think Jane Elizabeth Digby, Lady Ellenborough (3 April 1807 – 11 August 1881) led a truly fascinating life. She was an English aristocrat who lived a scandalous life of romantic adventure, spanning decades and continents. She had four husbands and many lovers, including King Ludwig I of Bavaria, his son King Otto of Greece, statesman Felix Schwarzenberg, and an Albanian brigand general (the Bulgarian Hadji Christo). At the age of forty-six, Jane traveled to the Middle East, fell in love with and married Sheik Abdul Medjuel el Mezrab. Though he was twenty years her junior the marriage lasted until her death, 28 years later. Jane adopted Arab dress and learned Arabic in addition to the other eight languages in which she was fluent. She spent half of each year in nomadic style, living under canvas in the desert, and the rest at the palatial villa she had built in Damascus, where she had befriended the explorer Richard Burton, and his wife, while he was British consul there.
2. What year in history would you have liked to live in?
The Edwardian era appeals, because it was the beginning of an incredible time of change, and I'll say 1911: the year in which my novel "The Memory of Lost Senses" is set.
3. You're having a dinner party and you can invite 5 people from history, who would they be?
The aforementioned Jane Digby, Jane Austen, Lord Byron, the aforementioned Richard Burton (the explorer) and Nancy Mitford.
4. What castle from the past or present would you like to live in?
Chatsworth. Not actually a castle - more of a palace, and the greatest country house in England.
5. Two fellow historical fiction authors you'd like to go on a history themed tour of the world with?
Susan Hill, author of "The Woman in Black", "Mrs de Winter" and many others; and Jane Harris, author of "The Observations" and "Gillespie and I".
6. Who was more dashing and interesting, King Henry VIII of England or King Louis XIV of France?
I'm going to go for Louis XIV, the Sun King, purely for style and flamboyance, and because Henry VIII was such a monster.
7. Which of the six wives of King Henry VIII is your favorite?
Anne Boleyn, I think, was perhaps the most interesting. Before her marriage to Henry she had been secretly betrothed to Henry Percy, son of the 5th Earl of Northumberland, where I was born. It was Henry's obsession with Anne Boleyn that led to the schism with Rome, and yet Anne was queen for only three years before Henry had her beheaded.
8. English monarchy or French monarchy?
English, it's still here!
9. What three novels could you read over and over?
"The House of Mirth" by Edith Wharton, "Journey into the Past" by Stefan Zweig, and "The Transit of Venus" by Shirley Hazzard.
10. Tea or coffee when writing?
Coffee: white - without sugar, please.
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