I admit it- I had a lot of fun writing my novel, Romancing Robin Hood and my novella The Outlaw’s Ransom. Each project gave me the chance to take a self indulgent trip down memory lane, and dig out all my PhD notes on the ballad history behind the Robin Hood legend. Although Romancing Robin Hood is a modern contemporary romance, it also contains a second story- a medieval mystery which has more than a hint of the Robin Hood’s about it.
The earliest balladeers sang tales of Robin Hood long before they were written down, and audiences through history have all had different ideas of what Robin Hood was like in word, action, and appearance. Every writer, film maker, and poet ever since the first tales were spoken, has adapted the outlaw figure to fit their own imagination.
The earliest mention found (to date), of the name Robin Hood appears in the poem The Vision of Piers Plowman, which was written by William Langland in c.1377.
A long ballad, Piers Plowman was a protest against the harsh conditions endured by the poor in the Fourteen Century. Not only did it mention Robin Hood, but makes reference to he outlaw gang, the Folvilles, who research suggests were an influence on those whose exploits wrote the Robin Hood ballads.
“And some ryde and to recovere that unrightfully was wonne:
He wised hem wynne it ayein wightnesses of handes,
And fecchen it from false men with Folvyles lawes.”
The Folville family were incredibly dangerous, influential, and had great impact on the Midlands of the UK in the Fourteenth Century. I’ll be introducing this family of brothers to you properly very soon; for they are something of an obsession for historian Dr Grace Harper- the lead character in Romancing Robin Hood.
In 1450 the earliest single short ballad, Robin Hood and the Monk, was committed to paper, but it wasn’t until 1510 that the original story (Lytell Geste of Robyn Hode), was recorded in its entirety.
With the arrival of the printing press in Tudor and Elizabethan times, all of the most popular stories we recognise today were recorded for prosperity. Some of these stories had medieval roots, but many were were brand new pieces. The Tudor audience was as keen for fresh tales containing their favourite heroes as we are today. These ‘new’ tales included Robin Hood and Gisborne (c.1500) and Robin Hood and the Curtal Friar (c.1550) – who became known as Friar Tuck.
The Tudors loved the stories of Robin Hood. He was more popular then than he is now. Tudor documents are littered with mentions of Robin Hood’s all over Britain. For example-
– in 1497 Roger Marshall called himself Robin Hood, and lead a riot of 200 men in Staffordshire.
– in 1509, ten Robin Hood plays were banned in Exeter by the city council, as they had become a public nuisance.
Robin Hood’s most famous Tudor fan was Henry VIII himself. In fact, apart from hunting, eating, and getting married, Henry’s favourite hobby was acting. Sometimes he dressed up as Robin Hood. The king would wear a mask, and his audience had to pretend they didn’t know it was him, and had to look surprised when he revealed his true identity at the end of the play.
In 1510 Henry VIII and eleven of his nobles dressed as Robin Hood and broke into the Queen’s private rooms, apparently giving her the fright of her life! (Up to that point anyway!)
Thank you for letting me share a little of my Robin Hood passion with you today.
Romancing Robin Hood is available now on Nook, Kobo, Kindle and in paperback from all good retailers, including-
The Outlaw’s Ransom is available as a Kindle download – (published under the name Jennifer Ash, this novella was previously published as the medieval part of the Romancing Robin Hood novel mentioned above.)
There’s no need for me to say things like “2016 was just so awful….” Hardly anyone would argue that it wasn’t a pretty big disaster all round the world stage. So, enough said.
2017 now lays ahead of us like a pristine blank notebook, just waiting for the world’s storytellers to fill it up.
OK- so they’ll be more political chaos etc- but here in my own small corner of book land, there is much to look forward to.
For a start I have 2 brand new novels coming out during 2017 – one as Jenny Kane, and one as Jennifer Ash.
My Jenny Kane novel comes out in June, and will be entitled Abi’s Neighbour – the sequel of my bestselling novel, Abi’s House. I will have a cover for you to look at shortly (I’ve seen it already- and I love it!), as well as a blurb. All I can tell you at the moment is that the main characters, Abi, Max, Beth, Jacob and Stan, are still in Sennen Cove in Cornwall- along with a few new faces. And before anyone asks- no, I haven’t killed the dog. You’d be amazed how many emails I got asking me not to kill off Sadie, Stan’s Golden Retriever. As if I would!
My Jennifer Ash book this year will be a full length novel which carries on a few months after the end of the novella, The Outlaw’s Ransom. The new novel, The Winter Outlaw, will be out in November. It is that novel I’m working on at the moment. So I’m starting 2017 by doing a rewrite of the first draft of the book which will probably end up being the last publication of the year.
Along with these two novels, I also have short stories and a novella coming out under my adult pen name.
In between the editing and writing, I’ll be teaching as many writing workshops as I can squeeze into the days, drafting yet another novel (not saying what that’s about yet….), and taking on freelance writing assignments.
2017 is only a few days old, but it’s already shaping up to be one of the busiest yet, and after the publication of Another Glass of Champagne, The Outlaws’ Ransom, Jenny Kane’s Christmas Collection, and several other pieces for the ‘other’ me in 2016, I wouldn’t have thought that possible!
I would like to wish you each and every on of you…
A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS!
Many many thanks for all your support over the last year.
I hope you are all having a truly peaceful and huggled Christmas, with extra coffee and a mince pie or three.
It’s almost here!! It’s almost Christmas!!
If you’re anything like me you are, despite all your intentions to the contrary, you are still buying last minute gifts! I had planned to have everything wrapped and labelled, and the tree up, and the shopping sorted….but of course, none of that has happened yet!!
So- what are you going to buy during your last minute shopping spree? Fancy a book or two?
Here’s a few quick and easy suggestions to help things along – paperbacks to pop in those stockings, or ebooks to adorn the new Kindles currently stocked on Santa’s sleigh!
COSY COFFEE TIME READS
Another Cup of Coffee
Thirteen years ago Amy Crane ran away from everyone and everything she knew, ending up in an unfamiliar city with no obvious past and no idea of her future. Now, though, that past has just arrived on her doorstep, in the shape of an old
music cassette that Amy hasn’t seen since she was at university.
Digging out her long-neglected Walkman, Amy listens to the lyrics that soundtracked her student days. As long-buried memories are wrenched from the places in her mind where she’s kept them safely locked away for over a decade, Amy is suddenly tired of hiding.
It’s time to confront everything about her life. Time to find all the friends she left behind in England, when her heart got broken and the life she was building for herself got completely shattered. Time to make sense of all the feelings she’s been bottling up for all this time. And most of all, it’s time to discover why Jack has sent her tape back to her now, after all these years…
With her mantra, New life, New job, New home, playing on a continuous loop in her head, Amy gears herself up with yet another a bucked-sized cup of coffee, as she goes forth to lay the ghost of first love to rest…
Another Cup of Christmas
Another Cup of Christmas is a festive sequel (of sorts!) to Jenny Kane’s fantastic debut romance, Another Cup of Coffee. Five years ago the staff of Pickwicks Cafe in Richmond were thrown into turmoil when their cook and part-owner, Scott, had a terrible accident. With help from his friends, his wife Peggy, and the staff at the local hospital, he made an amazing recovery. Now Pickwicks is preparing to host a special Christmas fundraiser for the hospital department that looked after Scott.
Pickwicks’ waitress Megan has been liaising with the ward’s administrator, Nick, as all the staff who helped Scott’s recovery are invited are invited. As the problems of organising the fundraiser take up more and more of their busy lives, Megan and Nick contact each other more frequently, and their emails and phone calls start to develop from the practical into the flirty.
But can you actually fall for someone you’ve never met? As the fundraiser draws closer, Megan is beginning to think that she had imagined all the virtual flirting between herself and Nick – he promised to arrange to meet her for real, but he hasn’t done so. Now he’s bringing someone with him to the fundraiser, and they’re just bound to be everything Megan feels she isn’t …
Romancing Robin Hood
Dr Grace Harper has loved the stories of Robin Hood ever since she first saw them on TV as a girl. Now, with her fortieth birthday just around the corner, she’s a successful academic in Medieval History, with a tenured position at a top university.
But Grace is in a bit of a rut. She’s supposed to be writing a textbook on a real-life medieval gang of high-class criminals – the Folvilles – but she keeps being drawn into the world of the novel she’s secretly writing – a novel which entwines the Folvilles with her long-time love of Robin Hood – and a feisty young girl named Mathilda, who is the key to a medieval mystery…
Meanwhile, Grace’s best friend Daisy – who’s as keen on animals as Grace is on the Merry Men – is unexpectedly getting married, and a reluctant Grace is press-ganged into being her bridesmaid. As Grace sees Daisy’s new-found happiness, she starts to re-evaluate her own life. Is her devotion to a man who may or may not have lived hundreds of years ago really a substitute for a real-life hero of her own? It doesn’t get any easier when she meets Dr Robert Franks – a rival academic who Grace is determined to dislike but finds herself being increasingly drawn to…
Newly widowed and barely thirty, Abi Carter is desperate to escape the Stepford Wives lifestyle that Luke, her late husband, had been so keen for her to live. Abi decides to fulfil a lifelong dream. As a child on holiday in a Cornwall she fell in love with a cottage – the prophetically named Abbey’s House. Now she is going to see if she can find the place again, relive the happy memories …maybe even buy a place of her own nearby? On impulse Abi sets off to Cornwall, where a chance meeting in a village pub brings new friends Beth and Max into her life. Beth, like Abi, has a life-changing decision to make. Max, Beth’s best mate, soon helps Abi track down the house of her dreams …but things aren’t quite that simple. There’s the complicated life Abi left behind, including her late husband’s brother, Simon – a man with more than friendship on his mind … Will Abi’s house remain a dream, or will the bricks and mortar become a reality?
Tomorrow is a big day for me. It sees the launch of my very first title under the name of Jennifer Ash.
The first in an exciting new series by acclaimed author Jenny Kane writing as Jennifer Ash.
When craftsman’s daughter Mathilda is kidnapped by the notorious Folville brothers, as punishment for her father’s debts, she fears for her life. Although of noble birth, the Folvilles are infamous throughout the county for disregarding the law – and for using any means necessary to deliver their brand of ‘justice’.
Mathilda must prove her worth to the Folvilles in order to win her freedom. To do so she must go against her instincts and, disguised as the paramour of the enigmatic Robert de Folville, undertake a mission that will take her far from home and put her life in the hands of a dangerous brigand – and that’s just the start of things…
A thrilling tale of medieval mystery and romance – and with a nod to the tales of Robin Hood – The Outlaw’s Ransom is perfect for fans of C.J. Sansom and Jean Plaidy.
The Outlaw’s Ransom (which originally saw life as part of my contemporary fiction/medieval mystery timeslip novel, Romancing Robin Hood), is a book that’s very close to my heart. Anyone who follows this blog will know that it is my love of all things Robin Hood which led to me researching the real life criminal gang, the Folville brothers, and considering how they might have been influenced by the outlaw ballads that would have been circulating at the time.
It was interesting to be able to give, what I imagine, the Folville family’s perspective on the Robin Hood stories might be.
…Eustace de Folville continued, ‘You know something of us, Mathilda, from living in these parts. And, I have no doubt, my dear brother has explained to you our beliefs on maintaining our lands and beyond, keeping a weather eye on the dealings of all men in this hundred.’
Mathilda bit her tongue in an effort to remain demurely mute, trying to concentrate on what Eustace was saying and not on the unknown fate of her younger brother.
‘He has also, I believe, told you of his fascination with stories,’ Eustace gave Robert a blunt stare; leaving Mathilda to wonder whether it was his brother’s passion for the minstrels’ tales, or the fact he’d shared that belief and interest with a mere chattel, that Eustace disapproved of.
‘The balladeers have become obsessed of late with the injustices of this land. Often rightly so. Naturally the fabled Robyn Hode has become a hero. An ordinary man who breaks the law, and yet somehow remains good and faithful in the eyes of the Church, is bound to be favoured. In years past such a character’s popularity would have been unthinkable, but these days, well …’
Eustace began to pace in front of the fire, reminding Mathilda of how his brother had moved earlier, ‘Now we are empowered by the young King, the Earl of Huntingdon, and Sheriff Ingram, to keep these lands safe and well run, and by God and Our Lady we’ll do it, even if we have to sweep some capricious damned souls to an earlier hell than they were expecting along the way.’
Eustace was shouting now, but not at her. His voice had adopted a hectoring passion, and Mathilda resolved that she would never willingly disappoint this man; it would be too dangerous.
‘Many of the complaints of crimes and infringements that reach my family’s ears are not accurate. Far more felonies are alleged out of spite or personal grievance than are ever actually committed. We require more eyes and ears, girl. Accurate, unbiased eyes and ears.
‘The sheriff of this county is not a bad man. No worse than the rest anyway; but Ingram is sorely stretched. He has not only this shire, but Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire within his writ. The man cannot be everywhere at once. No man can.
‘We are believed to have a band of criminals under our control, Mathilda. This is not true. I’m no Hode, although I am lucky to have the respect of the immediate population, and although I know that respect is because they go in fear of me, I’d rather have that than no respect at all. Hode’s principles I embrace, as I do other outlaw heroes’ who have flouted a law more corrupt than they are. Those such as Gamelyn can give a man a good example to follow. What was it he declared, Robert, to the Justice at his false trial?’
Moving into the light of the table, Robert thought for a second before reeling off a verse he’d probably known by heart since childhood, ‘Come from the seat of justice: all too oft Hast thou polluted law’s clear stream with wrong; Too oft hast taken reward against the poor; Too oft hast lent thine aid to villainy, And given judgment ’gainst the innocent. Come down and meet thine own meed at the bar, While I, in thy place, give more rightful doom And see that justice dwells in law for once.’
Eustace nodded to his brother, who’d already shrunk back into the shadows of the nearest wall, ‘I do not have such a band at my beck and call, Mathilda. When I need help I have to pay for it.’
The values that – in my mind at least- the Folville brothers see in the stories of Robin Hood form an important undying theme to this tale- and to Mathilda of Twyford they will make the difference between life and death…
I’d like to thank all of you who have already pre-ordered your copy of The Outlaw’s Ransom. I can’t wait until tomorrow!! The medieval ale will be a flowing…
If you’d like to read my first medieval mystery, then The Outlaw’s Ransom is available for your Kindle here –
Happy reading everyone,
Jennifer (aka Jenny!!) xx