Tag Archives: Spain

Dear Reader #9

Dear Reader,

This week, my writing has focused on research for The Olive Tree, my Spanish Civil War Saga. I have created a number of pages on my website chronicling some amazing stories of bravery and courage. You are invited to read these stories.

https://hannah-howe.com/the-olive-tree/esperanza-careaga/

https://hannah-howe.com/the-olive-tree/fifi-roberts/

https://hannah-howe.com/the-olive-tree/nurses/

https://hannah-howe.com/the-olive-tree/wales-and-spain/

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx

Dear Reader #8

Dear Reader,

Another busy week with translations. We published the Spanish version of Saving Grace, started the German version of Victory and I’m delighted to say that Jill has offered to translate The Big Chill into Swedish. This will be our third project after Sam’s Song and Love and Bullets and it’s exciting to see my books reaching Swedish readers in their own language 🙂

While researching material for a future Sam Smith novel, I discovered that the British government’s health assessment programme for disabled people has resulted in 21,000 deaths. These deaths are based on the government’s own figures, so it is certain that the real figure is a lot higher. This raises the question: what is the difference between death by bureaucracy and death by cold-blooded murder? None. It all results in death. This is a tragedy for disabled people and their families, and it is a subject I am determined to explore.

The Olive Tree, my Spanish Civil War Saga, will be based on true events and real people. For example, Thora Silverthorne of Blaenafon, Wales.

In 1936, Thora volunteered to go to Spain as a nurse. There, she became a matron in a hospital established in a primitive farmhouse.

“I had done a lot of operations before,” Thora said, “but in Spain it was quite different. We dealt with seriously injured people. Once we treated 700 people over five days. We were under fire. We had a Red Cross on the roof, but were warned, ‘take it down – it’s the first thing the fascists will aim for.’”

On her return to Britain, Thora helped to establish the first union for nurses, the National Association of Nurses, in 1937.


This week, I’ve been scanning my reference books looking for names for my Spanish Civil War Saga. It’s an international story featuring characters from America, France, Ireland, Spain and Wales. The right name is important and often it can suggest facets of a character. For example, one character, a nurse, was going to be docile and a support character. However, when I found her name, Adele Lazard, she stepped forward. Now, she’s going to Spain as a nurse, but really she wants to fight at the front.

Pictured: Two women and a man at the Siege of the Alcázar in Toledo, 1936.


During the Spanish Civil War, Wales welcomed many refugees, including Esperanza Careaga, pictured here in 1939. Espe, her name means hope, left Spain in April 1937, eight days before her sixth birthday. Her brother, Alberto, was transported to Russia and it took 50 years before Espe saw him again. Meanwhile, Espe settled in Barry, Wales.

At the end of the war, most of the refugees returned to Spain. However, 35 children remained in Wales, including Espe. She married in 1958, had two sons and four granddaughters.

From tragic beginnings, Espe lived up to her name, and through her courage we can draw belief, strength and hope.

As ever, thank you for your interest and support.

Hannah xxx