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Dear Reader #84

Dear Reader,

It looks like I’m directly related to Sir Rhys ap Thomas (1449–1525) loyal supporter of Henry Tudor, Henry VII. Some sources claim that Sir Rhys personally delivered the death blow to King Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth, using his poleaxe. More about this in future posts.

My latest translation, the German version of Eve’s War: Operation Locksmith, available soon. Sandra has translated seven of my books and is always a pleasure to work with.

The oldest surviving diving suit in the world, from Finland, early 18th century.

During the Second World War, R.V. Jones was the Assistant Director of IntellIigence (Science) and a man Churchill knew he could trust.

When the Nazis introduced a radar system called Wotan, R.V. Jones figured out how it worked by assuming that it used a single beam. He based his deduction on the fact that the Germanic god Wotan only had one eye.

More family tree news. Possibly my greatest family history discovery to date. I traced my tree back to the Welsh nobles and their genealogies link my family to one of the greatest figures in Welsh history, my 23 x great grandfather, Rhys ap Gruffydd (1132 – 1197), The Lord Rhys, ruler of South Wales.

Strange phenomenon. I named my character Eve Beringar in my Eve’s War series because I liked the name. Now, I discover that Eleanor Beringar of Provence, Henry III’s wife, is my 23 x great grandmother. She was renowned for her beauty, learning, writing and as a leader of fashion.

The Hodsolls were lords of the manor in Ash, Kent during the medieval period. Later, they owned considerable amounts of land and property in Kent, Sussex and London.

My 12 x great grandfather, John Hodsoll, was born in Cowfold, Sussex in 1534. His first wife, Anne, died at a young age and he married his second wife, Faith Thomas, in Cowfold in 1557.

A gentleman farmer, John enjoyed a comfortable lifestyle. With Faith, he produced at least eight children, seven of them girls, along with my direct ancestor, William Hodsoll.

John enjoyed a long life, dying in 1618 in Cowfold, aged 84. He left a detailed Will, which offers an insight into his life.

Extract from John Hodsoll’s Will, 1617.

John left approximately £2,000 in his Will, mainly to his ‘beloved wife, Faith’, and their children. That sum equates to 110 years of a skilled craftsman’s wages. He also left his vast estates to his family.

A servant, Caesar, and the poor people of the parish were also beneficiaries of John’s Will. Caesar received £5, the equivalent of 100 days wages for a skilled craftsman, while the poor received ‘the summe of three pounds sterling apeece’.

The affectionate tone of John’s Will suggests that he truly loved Faith. Along with money and land, she received ‘all such mares kyne and calves with all such hay corne fodder and provision of victualls for houshould as shalbe belonginge unto me at the tyme of my decease, plate and houshold stuffe, and her weddinge ringe and one paire of Braceletts of goulde w’ch I lately gave her and one ringe of myne with a deathes heade lately belonginge to my first wife.’

John lived most of his life durning the Elizabethan era and would have witnessed the devastating plague of 1563, which claimed the lives of 80,000 people, William Shakespeare’s plays, the exploits of Francis Drake, the Anglo-Spanish war, the execution of Mary, Queen of Scots, and the death of Elizabeth I.

Faith was the daughter of the Reverend Tristram Thomas, Rector of Alford in Surrey. Her name and upbringing suggest that religion played a key role in her life, in this instance Protestantism. In regard to religion, she lived during a turbulent time, but doubtless benefited from Elizabeth’s support for the Protestant Church.

John and Faith lived during the glory days of the English Renaissance, when literature, art, music and architecture flourished. A remarkable time to be alive.

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

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Dear Reader

Dear Reader #78

Dear Reader,

Delighted that my Eve’s War Heroines of SOE series will now be translated into Portuguese, as well as Spanish and German.

27 October 1865. My 3 x great uncle, Thomas Reynolds, made the newspapers in a bastardy case, which wasn’t proved. Maybe it was coincidence, but after this incident he married two other Mary’s, in 1867 and 1875.

The perfect job for the dentophobic.

Byline Times intends to publish Byline Wales. Very excited to be in discussions with their editor about playing a role.

https://bylinetimes.com/

29 May 1858. Some things are timeless. The issue of vaccination.

Smallpox was a common killer in nineteenth century Britain. It spread rapidly and killed around 30% of those who contracted it and left many survivors blinded or scarred. In the 1850s, the government passed a series of laws that made vaccination against smallpox compulsory.

Ancestry

Mary Hopkin, born in 1818, my 3 x great grandmother, gave birth to five children: Thomas Reynolds born 1842, Margaret Howe born 1851, Hopkin Howe born 1853, William Howe born 1855, and Mary Ann Howe born 1858. However, only one of her offspring, my direct ancestor William, survived her.

Margaret Howe was born on 23 January 1851 in South Corneli, Glamorgan. Sadly, she died of ‘brain fever’ on 30 December 1853 in St Brides, Glamorgan. Through her husband, William, Mary had a number of relatives in St Brides, but it’s not clear why Margaret was there and why Mary wasn’t with her. Did Mary have the fever too and was too ill to look after her child? Whatever the reason for Mary’s absence, Margaret’s death was a deviating blow for the family.

Mary Ann was born on 20 June 1858 in South Corneli, Glamorgan. Like her mother, Mary, Mary Ann was a dressmaker. Amazingly, a letter written by Mary Ann in 1877 survives. 

As well as sentimental value, the letter is interesting in that it is written in English by a native Welsh speaker, it mentions using the recently installed railway network and, more poignantly, Mary Ann states that she is well ‘at present’. Mary Ann endured poor health throughout her short life and died on 21 January 1886, aged twenty-seven.

South Corneli, October 3, 1877

Dear Cousin,

I have taken the pleasure of writing these few lines to you in hopes to find you well as I am at present. Dear Cousin I could understand in Mary David’s letter the note you sent me that you was greatly offended to me and I don’t know the cause of you being so offended to me unless it is the cause of not sending your hat. The reason I did not send it because you told me you was coming to the tea party. You said that nothing would not keep you from not coming and I have not had no chance of sending it after unless I send it by train. Please write and let me know for what you are offended to me for. I am very uneasy ever since I did receive the note and I do think you don’t care much about me ever since you went away. I do only wish for you to write to me to tell me the reason by return.

So no more at present. From your cousin,

Mary Ann Howe

Mary Ann Howe died of ‘cardiac syncope’ or heart failure. Her brother, Hopkin, a Methodist Minister, was at her side. She died at Alexandria Road in Pontycymer, fourteen miles north of Corneli. What was she doing there? 

In 1882, the people of Pontycymer built the Bethel Methodist Chapel (pictured) with modifications added in 1885. The design incorporated a Romanesque style with two storeys, a gable-entry plan and round-headed windows. It seems highly likely that Hopkin was visiting the chapel, accompanied by his sister, Mary Ann. Mary Ann fell ill and was taken around the corner to a house in Alexandria Road where she died. 

Because of her letter, I feel close to Mary Ann as an ancestor and remain grateful for her words and the insight into her life.

My 3 x great grandmother, Mary Hopkin, gave birth to Thomas Reynolds on 15 January 1842 in South Corneli, Glamorgan. Thomas’ father, also Thomas, died three years later.

In 1851, Thomas was living with his mother and stepfather, William Howe, and attending the local school. At nineteen he was a carter on a local farm, Morfa Mawr, and in 1867 he married Mary Rees who gave birth to a son, Edward, eighteen months later.

Mary died soon after the birth and while Thomas worked on a farm closer to his mother’s home, Edward lived with his grandmother.

Thomas married Mary Morgan on 15 May 1875 in their local church at Mawdlam. Three children arrived in four years: William 1876, Jenkin 1877 and Catherine 1880. Thomas was a railway packer at this time, living on Heol Las in North Corneli.

Mary died on 13 October 1886 and Thomas died five years later, on 11 March 1891. He was 49.

Thomas left a will bequeathing £79 7s 0d to his son Edward, the equivalent of two horses, eight cows or 242 days pay for a skilled tradesman.

For my 3 x great grandmother, Mary Hopkin, now aged 72, this was a bitter blow, the loss of her third child. Sadly, more tragedy was to follow.

In regard to family life, Mary Hopkin’s second son, Hopkin Howe, followed a similar path to his half-brother, Thomas Reynolds.

Born on 16 June 1853 in South Corneli, Hopkin lived with his parents, siblings and cousin, Anne Price. Anne married David John, who joined them in the family home in South Corneli. This was a significant event for Hopkin because David John was a blacksmith and he taught him the skills of his trade.

In 1871, Hopkin was living with a Welsh family in Stockton, Durham while he plied his trade as a blacksmith. Stockton was the home of the railway and Hopkin’s skills were in great demand.

When Hopkin returned to Wales he changed career. He became a Methodist Minister. The chapel had always been central to the Howe family and it was Hopkin’s great ambition to become a minister. Having saved enough money to finance his training, Hopkin toured South Wales as a preacher of the gospel. 

26 March 1891. A happy occasion for my 3 x great uncle, Methodist minister Hopkin Howe, marrying David Morris and Mary Jane John.

Hopkin married Elizabeth Jones in 1884. This event brought great pleasure and tragedy. Elizabeth gave birth to a daughter, Elizabeth May Gwendoline Howe, on 27 November 1885, but died in childbirth. Deprived of her mother, baby Elizabeth died in infancy. One can only imagine how these events tested Hopkin’s faith.

Hopkin married again, Sarah Ann Jones, in December 1890 and he continued to tour South Wales preaching the gospel. However, he died four years later, of a lumber abscess, an infection in his spinal cord, on 19 February 1894. He left a will bequeathing £119 to Sarah Ann, the equivalent of a year’s wages. 

My 3 x great grandmother, Mary Hopkin, was 75 at this time. She still had her husband, William, at her side and her only surviving son, also William, lived with his family next door to her.

——-

Marie-Madeleine Fourcade led the French Resistance during the Second World War. This exchange of messages with British Intelligence (MI6) explains how she assumed command.

N1 = Georges Loustaunau-Lacau, founder of Alliance, the French Resistance network.

POZ 55 = Marie-Madeleine Fourcade.

“N1 arrested this morning STOP Network intact STOP Everything continuing STOP Best postpone parachuting next moon STOP Confidence unshakable STOP Regards STOP POZ 55”

From MI6: “Who’s taking over?”

“I am STOP POZ 55”

The Second World War. Inside an Anderson shelter on Christmas Eve.

In this month’s bumper issue of our Amazon #1 ranked magazine…

A Celtic Christmas, stories, articles and gift ideas based on a Celtic theme. Plus seasonal features to entertain you during the festive season and all your regular favorites.

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

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Dear Reader

Dear Reader #71

Dear Reader,

I made great progress this week with the writing of Branches, book two in The Olive Tree, my Spanish Civil War saga, and the editing of Operation Broadsword is nearly complete. My thoughts are turning to Operation Treasure, book four in my Eve’s War Heroines of SOE Series, and Stormy Weather, Sam Smith Mystery Series book eighteen, a novel about climate change.

Met some friends on the Bwlch this morning.

My latest translation, available soon, Invasion in Afrikaans. Also, delighted that Nelmari has agreed to translate Blackmail, book three in my Ann’s War series.

‘Potato’ Jones, captain of the cargo steamer Marie Llewellyn. During the Spanish Civil War, ‘Potato’ Jones ferried 800 refugees to safety. In total Welsh sea captains ferried 25,000 refugees to safety.

He also delivered fuel, food, medicines, guns and ammunition to the anti-fascists in Spain, breaking the blockade at Bilbao.

Cardiff International Brigade veteran Tom Williams: “The fight for democracy in Europe is carried on by the British ships carrying predominantly Welsh crews, and we are known on the continent as the ‘Welsh Navy’.”

Eve is back at #1 🙂

Merthyr Mawr this week

It’s a simple job, they said. We want you to wander down to Maddox Street and Conduit Street in Mayfair and attach the main telephone cable to a new support wire…

I’m reading George Orwell at the moment, his experiences in the Spanish Civil War. Very lyrical and insightful.

Meanwhile, no irony here…

With Joana and Sandra, started work on two new translations today, Mind Games, Sam Smith Mystery Series book eleven, into Portuguese and Operation Locksmith, Eve’s War Heroines of SOE book two, into German. Great respect for translators and the talent they bring to these projects.

Hands up if you’ve said or heard these words 🙂

Responding to QI, the other followers said ‘I’d won Tweet of the Day’ and ‘I’d won the Internet’ with this comment 😂

Incidentally, I received well over 1,000 likes, which is easily a record for me.

I’ve completed Operation Broadsword, book three in my Eve’s War Heroines of SOE Series, and now I’m looking forward to January 2021 and Operation Treasure, book four in the series, which is now available for pre-order.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08L9G7V4Z/

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

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Dear Reader

Dear Reader #66

Dear Reader,

Published this week, Looking For Rosanna Mee, my seventeenth Sam Smith Mystery. The intention was to write just the one book, but Sam thought otherwise…

Freshwater West this week.

Maslow’s hierarchy for modern times 🤣

A tearful farewell at Paddington Station c1942, by Bert Hardy.


In 1952, Dwight Eisenhower gave a speech to D-Day veterans, discussing those who‘d died under his command. Before D-Day, he wrote a letter stating that whatever the outcome he’d take full responsibility. The memories moved him. Great leaders have empathy, they respect their men.

Delighted to announce that my Eve’s War Heroines of SOE Series will be translated into German 🙂

Introduced in Paris in 1932, this is the Cyclomer, an amphibious bicycle. With four air-filled floats for buoyancy and propelled by two fan blades, as you might have gathered the idea didn’t catch on.

I’ve completed the writing of Operation Broadsword, book three in my Eve’s War Heroines of SOE Series. Editing to follow. This story ends with a Westland Lysander, a short-range aircraft that was adapted for clandestine operations. 

The Lysander could use small, improvised airstrips and therefore was well suited to delivering and recovering agents from behind enemy lines particularly in occupied France with the help of the French Resistance. 

Just made a bread pudding, based on my grandmother’s recipe 🙂

Cécile Rol-Tanguy and Henri Tanguy, the French Resistance couple who conducted clandestine operations, relayed confidential messages and participated in the liberation of Paris. Read their remarkable story here 👇

https://hannah-howe.com/eves-war/cecile-and-henri-rol-tanguy/

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

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Dear Reader

Dear Reader #65

Dear Reader,

My latest audiobook, available soon 🙂

The Rance in Dinan. Eve was in Dinan this week, in Operation Broadsword, book three in my Eve’s War series. She is trying to get rid of a million francs, which is proving surprisingly difficult.

The print copies of Operation Locksmith have arrived 🙂

Café Society, Paris 1925.

I’m eclectic. Which one are you?

My latest translation, the German version of Operation Zigzag, book one in my Eve’s War Heroines of SOE Series. Great to see that readers in Germany are also downloading the English version.

The streets of London, 1930. The car on the right is a Burney, made by Streamline Cars Ltd and designed by Dennis Burney in 1927.

A walk through the woods this week, Craig yr Aber, Glamorgan.

First Officer Maureen Dunlop was a ferry pilot for the Air Transport Auxiliary. The women of the ATA transported newly manufactured aircraft from factories to aerodromes throughout Britain. She was trained to fly 38 types of aircraft, including Spitfires, Mustangs, Typhoons and bombers.

Four ‘It Girls’ dressed for an evening out, 1927.

I’m a Surrealist. How about you?

Excited to see that Operation Broadsword, book three in my Eve’s War Heroines of SOE Series, is ranked #32 as a hot new release. The book will be published in November 🙂

Heroines of the SOE

Anne-Marie Walters 

On 21 June 1944, 2,000 Nazi soldiers attacked a pocket of the French Resistance. During the battle, Anne-Marie distributed hand-grenades and buried incriminating documents in a cave under a church. She also collected SOE money and took it with her as the Resistance withdrew from the village. 

Read Anne-Marie’s remarkable story here 👇

https://hannah-howe.com/eves-war/anne-marie-walters/

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx