Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Wicked Lady: Blog Tour Guest Post by Deborah Swift, Author of Shadow on the Highway

Please join me in welcoming Deborah Swift to Let Them Read Books! Deborah is touring the blogosphere with her newest historical fiction novel, the first book in the Highway Trilogy, Shadow on the Highway, based on the life and legend of Lady Katherine Fanshawe, the highwaywoman, sometimes known as "The Wicked Lady."  Check out Deborah's guest post on this Wicked Lady, and enter the Rafflecopter giveaway for a chance to win one of ten copies of Shadow on the Highway!

The Wicked Lady – Katherine Fanshawe
By Deborah Swift

I am not the first writer to be inspired by the life and legend of Lady Katherine Fanshawe.

The first novel based on her life was by Magdalen King-Hall who wrote a book called The Life and Death of the Wicked Lady Skelton in 1945. I have a copy and it is exciting reading, though long-winded in the telling by today’s standards. The book was a smash hit in its day and was made into a film - The Wicked Lady. The film starred Margaret Lockwood in the title role as a nobleman's wife who secretly becomes a highwayman to relieve her life of boredom. The mystery of why she would take such an extreme action was the sensation of its day – women were supposed to be safe at home doing the housekeeping! The film had one of the top audiences ever for a film of its period, 18.4 million – a staggering number. I can remember my mother talking about it as one of her favourite films.

It was one of the Gainsborough melodramas, a sequence of very popular films made during the 1940s in wartime Britain. They provided pure escapism from the deprivation of WWII, with lavish sets and costumes and period settings, and the films were often based on historical novels.

Here is the trailer for the 1945 film – great costumes, but from it you get the melodramatic flavour of the plot. In fact, before it could be released in the US, re-shooting was required as the women's bodices were very low-cut and showed too much cleavage for the American censors.

It was such a hit that the film was re-made in 1983 and starred Faye Dunaway in the lead role. (Poster from www.moviepostercompany.co.uk) The film was a disaster and earned Faye Dunaway an award for the Worst Actress!

In my retelling of the story I have stuck to historical facts more than King-Hall did, including keeping the original names. Research into the background of the English Civil War provided me with plausible plot devices that enabled me to stick with the history more closely. However, as this is a novel for younger readers (14+) I wanted to retain the swashbuckling feel if possible, without making it into a melodrama. My story is told over three stand-alone books with three different points of view, the first book, Shadow on the Highway, is told from the point of view of Abigail, Lady Katherine’s deaf maidservant. You can find out more about how I researched her here.

Thanks for reading, and thanks to Jenny for hosting me.

Thanks, Deborah!
I can't wait to read all about Lady Katherine in Shadow on the Highway!

And now for the

To win a Paperback or eBook of Shadow on the Highway please complete the Rafflecopter giveaway form below. Five copies of each are up for grabs. Giveaway is open internationally.

Giveaway ends at 11:59pm on September 15th. You must be 18 or older to enter. Winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter on September 16th and notified via email. Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

May 1651. England has been in the midst of a civil war for nearly ten years. The country has been torn in two, and the King is getting ready to make his last stand against Cromwell’s New Model Army.

Abigail Chaplin, a young mute girl, has lost her father to the parliamentarian cause. But with her family now in reduced circumstances, she is forced to work as a servant at a royalist household – the estate of Lady Katherine Fanshawe.

Abi is soon caught up in a web of sinister secrets which surround the Fanshawe estate. The most curious of which is the disappearance of Lady Katherine late at night.

Why are her husband’s clothes worn and muddy even though he hasn’t been home for weeks? How is she stealing out of the house late at night when her room is being guarded? And what is her involvement with the robberies being committed by the mysterious Shadow on the Highway?

Shadow on the Highway is available on Amazon US and Amazon UK.

Shadow on the Highway is on a blog tour!

About the Author

Deborah Swift used to work in the theatre and at the BBC as a set and costume designer, before studying for an MA in Creative Writing in 2007. She lives in a beautiful area of Lancashire near the Lake District National Park. She is the author of The Lady’s Slipper and is a member of the Historical Writers Association, the Historical Novel Society, and the Romantic Novelists Association.

For more information, please visit Deborah’s website. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.


  1. What a great guest post, Deborah! Thank you so much for hosting the blog tour, Jenny!

    HF Virtual Book Tours

    PS - I'm tickled to see that almost all of your popular posts are from HFVBT Blog Tours :)

  2. Great post and great book! I really look forward to reading this.


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