Drawing Writing Inspiration from Family History with Elizabeth St.John

ElizabethNicola here. Today I welcome historical author Elizabeth St.John to the Word Wenches. I first met Elizabeth at the Historical Novel Conference in Oxford a few years ago. I confess to stalking her a little (in a completely non-sinister way!) because I knew she had a family connection to Lydiard Park, the glorious 18th century stately home in Swindon near where I live, and I was desperate to meet her and chat about Lydiard and its history. It’s been a huge pleasure to get to know Elizabeth and discover her writing. Her books are set in the 17th century, in an intensely turbulent period of English history, and they are intricate, immersive and beautifully-written. I’ve just started reading Written In Their Stars and I am hooked. Elizabeth evokes a rich historical world that draws you in from the very start of the book. Here she is to tell us more about her writing.

Elizabeth, welcome to the Word Wench Blog! Please tell us about your personal connection to the family you are writing about.

The St.John family in The Lydiard Chronicles share a common great-grandmother with me: Margaret Beauchamp, who was also Polyptych Open with Trees (003) grandmother to Henry VII. The seventeenth century family thought she was a very useful ancestor to increase their standing in society, and didn’t hesitate to use their “royal connection” to further their position. Sir John St.John, the First Baronet, was particularly enthralled, and thus commissioned the Polyptych in 1615, which stands in St. Mary’s Church at Lydiard Park. It’s an extraordinary monument, full of beautiful portraits which inspired my work—plus a gorgeous family tree, complete with Margaret at the top.

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