I am absolutely thrilled to be today’s stop on the blog tour for; Twelve Nights by Penny Ingham. I loved the sound of this book, it’s shot right to the top of my next-to-buy list, I can’t wait to share it with you all, plus I am an exclusive guest post; The Theatre, I can’t wait to share this post with you.

Twelve Nights

The Theatre

London, 1592

When a player is murdered, suspicion falls on the wardrobe mistress, Magdalen Bisset, because everyone knows poison is a woman’s weapon. The scandal-pamphlets vilify her. The coroner is convinced of her guilt.

Magdalen is innocent, although few are willing to help her prove it. Her much-loved grandmother is too old and sick. Will Shakespeare is benignly detached, and her friend Christopher Marlowe is wholly unreliable. Only one man offers his assistance, but dare she trust him when nothing about him rings true?

With just two weeks until the inquest, Magdalen ignores anonymous threats to ‘leave it be’, and delves into the dangerous underworld of a city seething with religious and racial tension. As time runs out, she must risk everything in her search for the true killer – for all other roads lead to the gallows.

Purchase Links

UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Twelve-Nights-Heavenly-Charmers-Book-ebook/dp/B09ZRPGZL8/

US – https://www.amazon.com/Twelve-Nights-Heavenly-Charmers-Book-ebook/dp/B09ZRPGZL8/

Guest Post

The Theatre – The First Purpose Built Theatre in Britain

A big thank you to Frankie at Chicks, Rogues and Scandals, for inviting me to write a guest post. I’m so excited to be here to celebrate the release of my latest novel.


A quick teaser: Twelve Nights is set in London in 1592, at the imaginatively named ‘The Theatre’ in Shoreditch. When a player is murdered on stage, suspicion falls on Magdalen Bisset, the wardrobe mistress, because everyone knows poison is a woman’s weapon. Magdalen is innocent, although few are willing to help her prove it. With time running out, she must risk everything in her search for the true killer, for all other roads lead to the gallows.

‘The Theatre’ was the first purpose-built theatre in Britain since the Roman era. A section of its long-lost foundations was uncovered in 2008 during excavations by MOLA (Museum of London Archaeology). They revealed that the playhouse was in fact polygonal in shape; so not quite the famous ‘wooden O’ mentioned in Shakespeare’s Henry V. Finds from the excavation included broken beer bottles, nutshells, seed and fruit pips – proving that the Elizabethans liked to snack while being entertained, much as we do today. MOLA also found large, green-glazed jars with a bulbous body, a tapering top and a slit in their side. These boxes were used to collect money from the paying audience, and the idea has survived in today’s ‘box office’.

Back in 1592, The Theatre was a hugely popular venue. Shakespeare’s plays ensured every performance was sold-out, and the players were the celebrities of their day. But Shoreditch was beyond the city walls – beneath the superficial glamour it was a lawless and dangerous district where murder was commonplace.

Original cast lists survive for some of Shakespeare’s plays, so we know the names of the players, and can trace their lives through the records of the day. Consequently, many of the characters in Twelve Nights are based on real people, including the great man himself – Shakespeare. Despite being one of the most famous playwrights of all time, he remains something of an enigma. We know his death date, but not his birth date. We assume he attended the grammar school in Stratford on Avon, but we don’t know for certain. Where was he for the ten years between leaving Stratford and reappearing as a player on the London stage? Who was the dark lady of his sonnets? And what can we say about his relationship with the Earl of Southampton in light of the frankly toe-curling dedication to the earl at the beginning of Venus and Adonis? Shakespeare’s contemporaries were either blatantly jealous (hence the much quoted ‘upstart crow’ jibe) or effusive in their praise of his genius. But few had much to say about his personality, which is why I decided to portray him as a quiet man, an observer rather than a participant in the affairs of others.

The playwright Christopher Marlowe could not have been more different. Much was written about him during his lifetime, and much of it was not complimentary. Often finding himself on the wrong side of the law, he was outspoken and outrageous, and I thoroughly enjoyed bringing his devil-may-care character to life for Twelve Nights. Tragically, Marlowe’s life and genius were brutally cut short at just 28 years of age. The official line is that he was stabbed to death during a pub brawl, but it is possible it was a sanctioned assassination. There has been much debate as to whether he was a spy. I am inclined to think he was. When he was about to fail his degree for frequently taking leave from lessons, the Privy Council wrote to Corpus Christi College, Cambridge and intervened on his behalf, commending him for his ‘good service’.

My heroine, Magdalen Bisset, is fictitious, but her precarious existence would have been all too familiar in Elizabethan England. With no family apart from her elderly grandmother, Magdalen must hold down two jobs to keep a roof over their heads. There were no state benefits, so she cannot afford to lose either of them, or she would soon find herself begging on the streets.

For a young girl like Magdalen, the chances of a ‘good’ marriage would have been slim. She has no money and therefore no dowry, and her employment at ‘The Theatre’ unfairly labels her as a prostitute in society’s eyes. So, she is instantly on her guard when Matthew Hilliard, the players’ newest recruit, offers to help her clear her name. He is handsome, charming and attentive and she finds herself increasingly drawn to him, but how can his intentions towards her be honorable, when she is so far beneath him in station?

And then there are the vague evasions, and the mysterious inconsistencies. How can she trust him, when nothing about him rings true?

Author Bio

I was born and raised in Yorkshire where my father inspired my love of history from an early age. He is a born story teller and would take us to the top of Iron Age hillforts, often as dusk was falling, and regale us with stirring tales of battles lost and won. Not surprisingly, I went on to study Classics at university, and still love spending my summers on archaeological digs. For me, there is nothing more thrilling than finding an artefact that has not seen the light of day for thousands of years. I find so much inspiration for my novels from archaeology.

I have had a variety of jobs over the years, including working for the British Forces newspaper in Germany, and at the BBC. When our family was little, the only available space for me to write was a small walk-in wardrobe. The children used to say, ‘oh, mum’s in the cupboard again’.

I have written four historical novels: The King’s Daughter explores the story of Aethelflaed, the Lady of the Mercians. The Saxon Wolves and the Saxon Plague are both set in fifth century AD, a time of enormous upheaval and uncertainty in Britain as the Romans departed and the Saxon era began. My latest is something a bit different. Twelve Nights is a crime thriller set in sixteenth century London, and features William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe.

I now live with my husband in the Hampshire countryside. Like many others during the pandemic, we decided to try growing our own fruit and vegetables – with mixed results! We can only get better!

Social Media Links –

Facebook: Penny Ingham Author Page | Facebook

Instagram: Penny Ingham (@penny.ingham)

Twitter: Penny Ingham (@pennyingham) / Twitter

Website: Penny Ingham (wordpress.com)

Giveaway

Giveaway to Win a PB copy of Twelve Nights (Open to UK Only)

Enter here – http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c69494511/?

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

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