About Pamela Hartshorne
My early career was a haphazard one, including stints as cook on an outback cattle station, TEFL teacher in Jakarta and French-speaking interpreter on expedition in Cameroon before ending up back in London as foreign newsdesk secretary at ‘The Observer’.
By then I had discovered a hitherto unsuspected fascination with history, and was looking around for the means to fund a return to university. Like many others, I lit upon the notion of writing romances as an easy way to make some money, and although I was soon disabused of how quick or how easy it would be, I did eventually have my first romance published in 1991. Since then I have written 60 books for Harlequin Mills & Boon. For more information on my romance writing career, please see www.jessicahart.co.uk.
I finally completed a Ph.D. in Medieval Studies at the University of York in 2004. My thesis, on the street and the perception of public space in later medieval and early modern York, was based on a study of the city’s surviving wardmote court returns in York City Archives manuscript E31. The wardmote courts dealt with problems within the community that had an impact on the quality of daily life for the neighbourhood as a whole: broken paving, obstructions in the street, blocked gutters, the disposal of rubbish, and anti-social behaviour.
It is true that the records are initially off-putting, but on closer examination they are not nearly as dull as they might seem. They offer a vivid picture of the topography of 15th and 16th-century York and a sense of the day-to-day experience of living in the late medieval and early modern city.
The 16th-century records survive in a complete series of returns for the twice-yearly wardmote courts held between 1575 and 1586, and make it possible to trace some individuals through the years, particularly repeat offenders like Miles Fell, the miller who was fined in April 1577 for not muzzling his mastiff bitch “whiche dyd bytt Nycholas Ellis legg”. Every time I read or transcribed or wrote about this incident, I found myself imagining exactly what had happened. I would wonder who had been watching and what they had thought, and when it came to writing ‘Times Echo’, I used Miles Fell, his dog and the unfortunate Nicholas Ellis as a backdrop to a key scene where Hawise meets Francis Bewley for the first time.
I still live in York, with the city walls and the Minster at the end of the street, and continue to work (very slowly) on a scholarly edition of the wardmote court records. In addition to writing and research, I teach occasional writing courses and am a freelance project editor for illustrated books, a role that has allowed me behind the scenes of some wonderful buildings.
My agent is Caroline Sheldon (Caroline Sheldon Literary Agency) www.carolinesheldon.co.uk