Friday, 11 November 2011


Following my visit to Sutton Hoo, and my ongoing work to republish Kathleen Herbert's first three historical novels- Bride of the Spear, Queen of the Lightning and Ghost in the Sunlight, I have been researching the history of Britain in the Heroic Age- after the departure of the Romans in the late 4th century. Kathleen uses two main sources for Bride of the Spear: the "Lady of the Fountain" story in the Mabinogion, and the life of St Kentigern by Jocelyn of Furness. Cynthia Whiddon Green's translation and thesis are excellent sources of knowledge!

Holme St Cuthbert History Group has also got some interesting information about St Kentigern in the context of the history of the Solway Plain. 

Kathleen's three books were variously known as The Cumbrian Trilogy and The Northumbrian Trilogy- probably because the middle book, Queen of the Lightning, which won the Georgette Heyer Memorial Prize, was about the dynastic marriage between Riemmelth, last princess of Cumbria and Oswy, prince of Northumbria.

Following the success of Queen of the Lightning, Bodley Head then published the other two books, but- shockingly, for such a prestigious publisher- described Bride of the Spear as the third book of the trilogy! This confused many readers and led some to think that one or more of the books had been badly cut or written in a disjointed way.

The settings for the books, when taken together, range from Edinburgh, through Cumbria and Northumbria, to North Wales, Cheshire, Yorkshire and Leicestershire. Whilst those of us who live in Cumbria and Northumbria relish the idea that Kathleen has a particular love for our part of the world, we want to make the magnificent scale of these novels clearer: therefore in their new editions we will use Kingdoms of the North as the subtitle to all three volumes. And we will publish them in the right order!

Readings from Bride of the Spear on 15th January  in Blencogo

St Mungo's Church, Bromfield. St Mungo is the familiar name of St Kentigern


  1. Brilliant. I was just about to ask you if you had the rights to Queen of the Lightning!

  2. I hope to publish Bride of the Spear early in 2012, and will be doing some readings on 15th January in Blencogo: