Latest updates

A hello and a warning and some bits about Roman exile.

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Hi pals! How are you? I am editing away as hard as I can and occassionally wondering what I was thinking when I wrote some bits, and sometimes thinking that I am brilliant and I can't wait for you all to read this! So if you could all promise to enjoy the good bits and ignore the rest, I'd like that. 

But this isn't just a pointless check in. It's also a warning and a present. 



Tuesday, 22 August 2017

It's 11pm here in Belfast and this has just happened... 

The first scrappy wee draft is done! That was the fun bit. Now editing phase one starts...wish me luck! 



Writing Retreat Redux

Thursday, 10 August 2017

In an effort to get this book in your hands as soon as I can, I have been on another little writing retreat in Donegal where I managed to knock out 11,000 words in 2.5 days. And that's WITH a sofa nap every day. I don't know why I am still surprised that having no access to the internet or Twitter is astonishingly good for getting stuff written that is more interesting than memes but I am. Not that…

Sneaky extract: A Brief History of 750 years of Rome.

Thursday, 27 April 2017

This is a sneaky bit of the introduction, a little bit of historical and cultural context before we leap into the main narrative with Agrippina's parents.  


Before we leap into the life of Julia Agrippina, we need some context. Agrippina lived in a culture that is quite alien to our own, and which valued its history and its religion very much. Romans in every stage of Roman history…

Writing Retreat

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Last time I wrote, lovely readers, I was off on my writing retreat and it was absolute bliss. Honestly, I have not had such a good time since the first two years of my PhD. And I LOVED doing my PhD. My in-laws let me borrow their holiday home in Donegal. If you've never been to Donegal, you should get on a plane right now because there is nowhere more gorgeous. Thankfully, it rained the whole time…

I've been thinking about Roman Religion

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

About 9 months ago I started a Roman tinyletter called U Wot MVIII. One of the things I decided to document every week was Roman religious festivals and observances, thinking that there’d be a few a year and it would be fun. I’ve never studied Roman religion in any depth beyond undergraduate survey courses. I’ve always been a historian rather than a classicist, and gods and myths have never interested…

Fictional History and Historical Fiction

Friday, 10 February 2017

I’m going to start with two quotes that have been bothering me lately. Because I have the kind of extremely verbal brain that only gets text-based earworms. The first comes from Stefan Zweig writing in 1931 about the poetry of History (capitalisation there is his, though he was writing in German so I guess the capitalisation is the translator’s):


“Happily this respect for the facts, for…

Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium

Monday, 23 January 2017

Hello everyone! my new year resolution for 2017 was mostly to write more and that includes here. So i thought I'd show you some exciting photos from my trip to Cologne last week. 

As you MIGHT know, the city of Cologne was founded as Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium in 50AD by our own Agrippina the Younger in order to celebrate her own birth. the city was founded at the location of an altar built…

New Postcards!

Friday, 15 July 2016

I have just recieved the postcards that will make up my new pledge level so I want to show them off because GOSH they're so pretty!

The front shows a frieze of Agrippina dressed as a sexy goddess crowning her son Nero as emperor. As a piece of iconography, this is staggering as she is quite literally saying that she has the power to grant the throne to whomever she wants. She herself is wearing…

"Influence is rarely lasting. Such is its fate"

Monday, 2 May 2016

So I decided to start a TinyLetter. A collection of thoughts and anniversaries and interesting things that I come across as I research and go about my merry way, things that don't make it to twitter or the blog. I'll post most of the content here too, but if you want some extra Romans in your life, you can sign up at

This Week in History

“Do not act…

David Cameron ****** a Pig...and the Romans

Monday, 29 February 2016

This is me doing clickbait titles. And by using a slightly out of date reference that people will only just remember I’m maintaining the tradition that ancient historians are always a little behind everyone else when it comes to modern events.If David Cameron Fucked A Pig is too 2015 for you, Ted Cruz Is The Zodiac Killer fits this too. Now most people won’t read past probably this bit (so my friends…

Was Agrippina a Whore?

Sunday, 31 January 2016

I suppose I should write something in these wee boxes, and make it worth everyone’s while and ££ to be interested in this project. So I decided to write about something that has come up a couple of times: the decision to include the word ‘whore’ in the title.


Obviously, this is a somewhat contentious issue, and one that is exacerbated by the fact that Bettany Hughes's book on Helen of Troy…

Publication date: Summer 2018
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