Category Archives

Eliza Redgold

Fairy Tale Beginnings ~ Your Free Gift

Henry_Meynell_Rheam_-_Once_Upon_A_Time_1908

Henry_Meynell_Rheam_-_Once_Upon_A_Time_1908

We all know how fairy tales end, but do you know the beginning?

I held weekly ‘Fairy Tale Fridays’ on my author Facebook page.   I brought magic into my life by posting the first line or two of a favourite fairy tale onto my page. Readers young and old were invited to guess the story. The next Friday, I revealed the identity of the fairy tale, along with a beautiful old illustration.

So many people found this a magical experience too. It was such fun to share that I decided to put some of them together in this collection.Some of the fairy tales are simple to guess, some are more difficult. Click on the link below for your free copy. I do hope you enjoy it!

May life bring you many happy endings – and even more fairy tale beginnings.

signature

Fairy Tale BeginningsElizaRedgold

Imagine Horses

Bayeux

 

On Cornish cliffsThink when we talk of horses, that you see them

Printing their proud hoofs i’ the receiving earth

For ‘tis your thoughts that now must deck our kings.

~ William Shakespeare: Henry V

Once upon a time, I visited Tintagel in Cornwall with my small daughter. Full of history and mystery, the cliff side town is steeped in Arthurian legend. As we made our way along the path towards the cliffs and the ancient site of Arthur’s castle, her hand in mine, I heard the sound of galloping hooves behind us. “Look, horses!” I swung her around to see them.

The path behind us was empty. There were no horses. Nothing was there.

Or perhaps not …

In Shakespeare’s Henry V the famous prologue that begins “O for a Muse of fire” encourages the audience to use their imaginations. To see Kings and Queens, instead of actors, to imagine battlefields instead of a wooden stage. In this collection of 1066 stories, readers are encouraged to go further – to imagine not only histories and fictions, but also alternate pasts.

I was so excited to be asked to contribute my story ‘The Needle Can Mend’ to 1066 Turned Upside Down. My connection to the historical period is through Lady Godiva – she of the famous horse ride. In 2015, my historical women’s fiction Naked: A Novel of Lady Godiva was published by St Martin’s Press in New York. So the legend goes, Godiva of Coventry begged her husband Lord Leofric of Mercia to lift a high tax on her people, who would starve if forced to pay. He demanded a forfeit: that Godiva ride naked on horseback through the town.  Lady Godiva (or Countess Godgyfu, in the Anglo-Saxon version of her name) was a real person who lived in 11th century Anglo-Saxon England. Yet her myth goes even further back.  Her legend has been be transformed again and again, come down to us through the ages in a mix of fact and folk-lore.

In Naked, I told Godiva’s tale as ‘herstory’ – from the heroine’s perspective. The historical Godiva would have been alive in 1066, so of course I wanted to include her in my story for this collection.  Godiva was the grandmother (or step-grandmother) to Queen Edith, the second wife of King Harold, and may well have figured in 1066 and its political aftermath, or so I imagined.   In ‘The Needle can Mend’ I wanted to capture the strength and power of women and the tales they weave. No more is this revealed than in the mysterious fabric of the Bayeaux Tapestry, which depicts the 1066 Battle of Hastings, and stitches together my tale.  It is a woman-made work of political art, secret and imagination that has stood the test of time.

To imagine is to form a mental image, to think, to believe, to dream, to picture. It is both idea and ideal. Our dreams can take us from small acts of empathy to noble visions of equality and justice. Imagination charges the flame: it puts us in touch with our creativity, our life force. In a world of increasing global conflict, perhaps imagination has never been more important – just like it might have been in 1066.

Alternate histories. Alternate realities. Alternate futures.

Imagine.

bayeux This post appears on the 1066 Turned Upside Down blog.  Visit to find out more about the stories and authors! #1066UpsideDown

 

 

 

 

1066 image

1066 on Amazon naked

NAKED on Amazon

 

Billiards, Ladies?

The Game of Billiards by Boutibonne

The Game of Billiards by BoutibonneYou said you were familiar with the game,” The Duke said to Calista, as with a slight bow he allowed her to pass before him.

“I’ve grasped the rules,” she said.

He took a billiards cue from a rack by the door. His fingers brushed against hers as he gave it to her.

She forced herself not to jump. Instead, she let her own fingers slide over the tips of his long fingers in reply.

He frowned as he took his hand away.  “Have you played often?”

“Not as often as you, I believe.”

 “Shall we form teams?” Darius asked brusquely.

“The gentlemen against the ladies?” Herbert suggested.

“Surely it’s the aristocrats against the actresses,” Calista put in.

She felt rather than saw Darius’s sharp glance at her.

 “Would that suit you, Calista?” he asked.

With a coquettish shrug she peeped at him over her shoulder.  The coquette wasn’t a role she played on stage but she’d observed it often enough to know how to perform it. It always seemed a betrayal, a sham of real love. “I’m sure we’ll play admirably together.”

Darius ran his hand through his hair. “Let’s get started.”

Excerpt from ‘Playing the Duke’s Mistress by Eliza Redgold

It was a surprise to me (and maybe to you too) that women played billiards in Victorian times. There was a great deal of female popularity for the sport, as both participants and spectators, as these wonderful old paintings reveal. I’ve been collecting them on Pinterest. Take a look: Billiards, Ladies?

Playing the Duke’s Mistress released in May 2016 – I do hope you enjoy playing with Calista and the Duke! Now available on Amazon.

best wishes,

signature

Mistress

Lady Day

Dante_Gabriel_Rossetti_-_Ecce_Ancilla_Domini!_-_Google_Art_Project
340px-Dante_Gabriel_Rossetti_-_Ecce_Ancilla_Domini!_-_Google_Art_Project

The Annunciation Dante_Gabriel_Rossetti

Lady Day is March 25th. From 1155 to 1752, Lady Day, not January 1, was the start of the year. In England today the tax year still runs according to this old timetable. So if your January New Year’s Resolutions have gone awry, it’s a great time to make some more.

This ancient festival celebrates the feast of the Annunciation, when the angel Gabriel announced the forthcoming birth of Jesus to Mary, known in the Catholic faith as ‘Our Lady’.  Lady Day is also a quarter day in the wheel of the year. It falls near the Spring Equinox and is connected to pagan celebrations of the earth’s rebirth. The ancient Celts honoured Eostre, the Goddess of spring around this time. She was traditionally accompanied by a hare. We still know her name in the feast name ‘Easter’ – while the hare has become the Easter bunny.

The word ‘lady’ itself is rich in heritage. In an academic paper I wrote for Women and Language journal I analysed its history and meaning. The word lady invokes the imagination.  While woman captures our biology, our physicality, or femaleness, lady evokes the more elusive quality – muse, magic, spirit – of the feminine. I wrote it a few years ago, but I still get contacted about it – by chance I did this morning!

nakedA famous Lady of Legend, Godiva, has long intrigued me and my version of her tale, with a twist, can be found in NAKED: A Novel of Lady Godiva (St Martin’s Press). In some ancient stories Godiva is accompanied by a hare – connecting her to the Celtic goddess of spring, Eostre. You can find the book on Amazon. and all good bookstores (trade paperback and e-book. There are more Ladies of Legend in store, so stay tuned.

The image I’ve used here of The Annunciation is by Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1849) and the model is his sister, the poet Christina Rossetti.

 

Best wishes for the (new) year,

signature

 

 

 

 

Lady pic This photo was taken a while back when I was researching the word lady and felt rather determined about it.

 

 

 

 

Also Out Now

Published by Skyhorse Press, New York. Available at Amazon and all good book stores.

The Morning Gift: A True Love Custom

The Kiss by Klimt

The Kiss by Klimt  A beautiful old custom I discovered while writing NAKED: A Novel of Lady Godiva was the Anglo-Saxon custom of the morgengifu or ‘morning gift’.

The morning gift was given to a bride by her husband the morning after their wedding. It could be land, money, goods or jewels. More than a mere dowry, it defined the power relations in a marriage and between the two families of the bride and groom joined in wedlock.  Negotiations could be heated and many alliances (and misalliances) were built.

“Silently he rolled away and reached over to where his belt laid cast aside on the floor. My eagle gold beside it.A small leather pouch. He held it out it to me.

“The morgengifu. Your morning gift.”

My brow furrowed. “But we’ve set our terms.” Was he revoking our agreement?

He shrugged and pressed the package into my palm.

Slowly I untied the long cord.

A ring. A dull gleam of gold. Carved swirls. A large smooth gem in the centre, egg shaped. I held it up to the light.

The gem glowed red as a wood berry. “It’s beautiful.”

“A ruby.”

I’d not expected such a courtesy of him, just as I hadn’t expected the pleasure he’d given me.

I slipped the ring onto my finger.  “Thank you,” I said, made shy. “Where did it come from?”

            “It was my mother’s. It’s Mercian made.”

So he’d brought it with him to Coventry. The eagle belt too he must have had with him. He must carry them with him always, a family keepsake.

“And now you give it to me.”

 Quote from NAKED: A Novel of Lady Godiva

http://amzn.to/1DXROqX

In NAKED, Godiva’s morgengifu is more than the ring she receives by surprise from her new husband. Historical documents from the 11th century show Godiva’s name as a female landowner. Her status as a landowner indicates that she inherited her own estate. Godiva had a lot to offer … and a lot to lose.

Marriage was a risk for Anglo-Saxon noblewomen like Lady Godiva. As Lord Leofric puts it in NAKED:  “There’s something you have forgotten.”  Moving nearer still, he closed the gap I’d stretched between us. His breath warmed my cheek. “The morgengifu is given to a woman by her husband the morning after their wedding night. Not before. To wed is to gamble. In our language even the words have the same meaning.”

Godiva vows to protect her land and her people, whatever the cost. As you’ll discover, her marriage gamble could cost her virtue, her heart … or her life.

signature

 

 

 

 

This post first appeared on Susanna’s Morning Room. Thanks Susanna!

Find out more about my heroine Lady Godiva! Available at Amazon and all good bookstores.

naked

 

Candlemas for Writers

Rosett Sibyl

 

Rosetti_sibyl

Rosetti ‘Sibylla Palmifera’

February 2 is the feast of Candlemas. It’s a special day for writers. Traditionally, on this day, bees wax candles were blessed in churches before being taken home for use throughout the year. Candlemas was also a time when many women would make candles and re-stock their home supplies.  Candlemas coincides with Imbolc – the great fire and flame festival that rejoiced at the signs of winter ending and hastened the return of spring with its light filled days. This feast day is also sacred to Brigid, Celtic Goddess and saint.  Candlemas, or Imbolc, celebrates Brigid and the promise of the light and warmth.
Brigid is the patroness of all crafts. Metal work or smith craft was especially connected to Brigid. In some legends Brigid forged the great cauldron, the cup of life blessings, herself.
Smith craft has given shape to some of our earliest artefacts. Gold, silver, copper, iron, tin, lead and even mercury, once called quicksilver, have all been forged in the furnaces of time. Metal’s form can be altered through heat, known as annealing, and reshaped while red hot, before setting and cooling down. Metal can be worked in its pure state, or its strength and hardness altered by making it into an alloy, by mixing it with another metal. From metal, smiths have wrought horseshoes, swords, gates, and of course, candle sticks.
The word metal itself comes from the meaning to search after. Alchemists searched for the philosopher’s stone, the ability to transform base metals into gold. “The alchemists said that their prima materia (their prime material) could be found anywhere, rejected as useless by common man, but capable of being distilled and transformed into purest gold,” explains Gareth Knight in his book Magic and the Western Mind.  “So it is with the imagination. It is there for any to use, free to all, yet few realize its true potential or try to distil it to a precious quintessence.”
“‘But what gold? How will I know the gold?’ You will know the gold,” writes the author of The Artist’s Way and creativity coach Julia Cameron in her book The Vein of Gold. Creativity is an alchemical process that can transform the metal of your daily life. You can distil your dreams into gold, with the craft of your hands.

The ringing of its busy bent anvils, The sound of songs from poet’s tongues, The heat of men at clean contest, The beauty of its women at high assembly, Blessings on the forge!                                ~ Irish, traditional

Craftspeople of long ago would clean and prepare their tools on Brigid’s feast day to bring good fortune for the year ahead. It’s a lovely custom for writers:
•       Clean and organize your writing space.  Clear your desk. Order shelves and drawers. Empty the waste paper basket. Dust and tidy. Establish harmony and order.
•       Bring as much natural light and air as you can into your workspace.
•       Clear out clutter on your computer or tablet. Delete excess files and emails.
•       Clean your writing tools. Treat them with care.
•       Re-stock on stationery and office supplies.
•       Evaluate your writing hopes, goals and dreams for the year.
•       Light a candle.
•       Forge ahead.

signature

candle

Godiva – Saint or Goddess?

St Agnes, The Cloisters NY

 

St Agnes, The Cloisters NY

St Agnes, The Cloisters New York

 “My father dreamed of building in stone,” I said. “He dreamed of a castle. And my mother used to say, Better to have castles made of wood than made of air, Radulf.”

Leofric smiled; the unexpected boyish smile that seemed to go straight to my core.  “And what did your father say to that?”

“He said dreams must come first.”

“Dreams must come first. And what would you build?”

“My mother believed we should build a church before we rebuilt the hall. She always wanted to have a stone church for Coventry. A church should be the first stone building, she said, for a church is for everyone. She and Brother Aefic long planned it. One day I hope to build it in her memory. I would make it so fine that all the townsfolk would want to come. I would build it with glass windows as they do in the great cities.”

“So buildings made of dreams do last,” he murmured. “The dreams of your parents have become yours. Perhaps dreams are passed down along with lands.”

Quote from NAKED: A Novel of Lady Godiva

http://amzn.to/1DXROqX

How old is the legend of Lady Godiva? A thousand years, or more?  Was she a real life woman, or does her story reach back even further in time? Let’s follow the golden thread and find out.

Lady Godiva has a secret past. There was a real, philanthropic woman called Countess Godgyfu who founded the monastery on which the first cathedral of Coventry was built. She gave valuable gifts to the city, including bequeathing a silver necklace, which was believed to once adorn the neck of the Cathedral’s statue of the Virgin Mary. Further back in history, Godiva’s legend was linked to saints and goddesses.

In their book Virtuous Magic: Women Saints and their Meanings, authors Sara Maitland and Wendy Mumford include Godiva of Coventry. Godiva’s story, like that of many saints, includes elements of folk story, local tradition and memory of her exceptional goodness and philanthropy and had similarities to stories of many saints from the same or earlier periods. In particular, Godiva’s legend has been linked to the earlier tale of St Agnes, the third century virgin martyr.

In The Golden Legend complied by Jacobus de Voragine in the 13th century, the beautiful Agnes was forced to walk naked through the town as a punishment for refusing to give up her faith. Agnes’s hair miraculously grew long enough to cover her, and such a bright angelic light surrounded her that no man could see her.

The story of St Agnes and Godiva are clearly of the same family: the long (golden) hair and the piety that overcame debauchment and even being seen – just as in the folk tale the townsfolk of Coventry could not/would not see their liege lady (except for peeping Tom).

Let’s go back even further in time. Godiva’s tale is connected to Greek and Celtic myths and sacred, semi-clad female processions.  The Teutonic goddess Hertha made a procession through the woods after her ritual bath, while in Greek legend it was at a man’s peril to witness the woodland bathing of the goddess of the hunt, Diana.  Godiva’s ride may well have descended from one of these parades.

In another version, Godiva’s ride is not a procession, but a love-chase. In this story, Leofric sets his wife a riddle to test her. She must come to him neither being clothed or unclothed, without a foot touching the ground. Cleverly, Godiva rides rather than walks and covers her naked body with a golden net of her hair. In some tellings of this love chase, Godiva is accompanied by a hare – connecting her to the Celtic goddess of Spring, Eostre. She has also been connected to another spring goddess who took a May-Day procession to summon the new season. Her name? The goddess Goda.

Like many pagan myths, such stories were absorbed into Christianity. It was in the Middle Ages that Goda’s tale became connected with the real and genuinely philanthropic Countess Godgyfu and the old pagan love-chase became a Christian procession celebrating her piety.

Godiva’s story has come down to us through the ages in a mix of fact, folk-lore and legend. Some call her a goddess, some call her a saint. All we know for certain is that Godiva’s extraordinary story continues to catch us in the net of her long, golden hair.

signature

 

 

 

 

Godiva: Saint or Goddess first appeared as a guest post on jorielovesastory.com

You can also read about Godiva’s Ancient History on my guest post at Bibliotica.com

naked

 

Available from all good bookstores. Coming soon in audio on Amazon

Orana! Seasonal Wishes to You

Hide & Seek

Thank you to all the wonderful readers who have been in touch with me about my books. It’s been a real privilege and one I’ll reflect on over the festive season with gratitude.

cover43491-smallReaders of my Australian contemporary romance Hide and Seek know how much I love birds so here’s a link to the little known Australian Christmas carol: The Carol of the Birds written by William Garnet James & John Wheeler. (Orana is an Australian Aboriginal word meaning welcome.)

Season’s greetings!

signature

Cameo Portrait: Enticing Benedict Cole

CAMEO

CAMEO newsletter

An artist, a lady, a secret passion… 

When Benedict Cole shuns her request for painting lessons, Lady “Cameo” Catherine Mary St. Clair takes matters into her own hands. She arrives at Benedict’s studio, only to be mistaken for a model! It’s an opportunity she just can’t turn down…

Benedict knows better than to let intimacy interfere with his work, yet he can’t quell his fascination for the mysterious Cameo. And after one daring night together, everything changes. Will Cameo still be his muse when Benedict discovers who she really is?’

The heroine of Enticing Benedict Cole is Cameo. It really is a girl’s name. A cameo is a small carving in relief of a semi-precious stone. The lighter-coloured layer is chipped away to reveal a darker background. In the 19th century, when this story is set, cameo jewellery was popularised by Queen Victoria. At that time small cameo portraits were often painted of well-to-do young women to adorn jewellery, for a keepsake, or to give to a lover. The word cameo has an original Greek meaning of ‘shadow portrait’ – which became part of the story.

Enticing Benedict Cole cover

I collected quite a few cameos while writing the book, as you’ll see on my ‘Cameo Appearance’ Pinterest board. Any excuse will do – right?

Visit Eliza Redgold at Harlequin Mills and Boon for a free extract of Enticing Benedict Cole.

Best wishes,

signature

Lady Godiva’s Ride into New York

Lady Godiva's Ride into New York
Eliza Redgold at the Flatiron Building New York

Eliza Redgold (Dr Elizabeth Reid Boyd) at the Flatiron Building New York

 

Lady Godiva is riding back into popular culture. I’m so excited to have the chance to present on NAKED: A Novel of Lady Godiva at the Popular/American Culture Association in the US. Here’s the abstract for my academic paper:

‘The legend of Lady Godiva, who famously rode naked through the streets of Coventry covered only by her long, flowing hair, has lasted for centuries. Her tale has been revived and romanticized time and time again, especially during periods of change and liberation in women’s lives. This is one such time. Drawing upon the recently published NAKED: A Novel of Lady Godiva (St Martin’s Press) written by Eliza Redgold (the pseudonym of Dr Elizabeth Reid Boyd) this paper explores the stories surrounding Godiva. It reveals her history, her myth and how far back in time her legend goes, to Christian saints and pagan goddesses. Whether fact or fiction, Godiva of Coventry was a unique woman and a heroine in more ways than one: as sexual symbol, spiritual icon and political activist. In a single leap, she jumps the hurdle of the double-standard that divided women into saints or sinners. Her return to popular culture today heralds a new kind of (post)feminist freedom. Her courage continues to inspire, her tale to be told, even after a thousand years.  Godiva is more than a naked lady. She is an evocation of the divine.’

My paper will be accompanied by a slide show of images of Godiva through time. If you’d like to share some of these images, you can check them out at my guest post (thanks so much!) at A Bookish Affair or on my Lady Godiva Pinterest board.

I’ll also be in New York and will have a chance to thank the wonderful people at St Martin’s Press in the Flatiron Building who made publishing Godiva so magical.

naked

best wishes,

signature