All posts by Alexandra Walsh

The Cornichon Effect

Time is flying and what with the words for Book Three flowing like a river and a bug that laid me low for a few weeks, I apologise for my lack of blogging and social media, in general. However, to make up for it, here’s a little treat.

As we all know, not every word of every draft makes the final edit. In The Elizabeth Tudor Conspiracy one of these deleted scenes was a conversation between Perdita and Kit which I loved. I was sad to lose it but understood the reasons (and the word count) why. Instead, I’d like to share it with you now. There are no spoilers, it’s purely a daft exchange between them as they delve into the secrets of the past.

The theory is one I was told by the wonderful Caroline Bullough who I met when we were both guests at the wedding of our mutual friend, Bethan to the lovely Rob.

Bethan and Rob Hyatt

It was a gorgeous weekend and Caroline’s explanation of her theory made me giggle. When she discovered my profession, she asked if I would be able to use her theory. Even as she was explaining it, I knew it would be an ideal scenario for Kit to regale to Perdita.

I hope you enjoy it.



The Cornichon Effect

An outtake from The Elizabeth Tudor Conspiracy
by Alexandra Walsh

“It’s The Cornichon Effect,” said Kit, casting a mischievous glance at Perdita.

“The what?” she asked in confusion.

“The Cornichon Effect: a strange phenomena that occurs when something new is pointed out to you, then you see it everywhere go. It’s a theory I developed some years ago.”

“Enlighten me,” laughed Perdita.

“When I at university and far less sophisticated than the suave man-about-town you know and love,” began Kit, Perdita grinned, “I was at a rather dreadful cocktail party, when a young lady who was really quite pretty asked if I would pass her the cornichons.”

Perdita shook her head in mock despair but Kit continued, undeterred.

“Until that point, I’d lived a sheltered life and had no idea what she was talking about. Panicking, because up until then my rubbish chat-up lines had been working a treat, I knew if I got this wrong, she would see me for the unsophisticated fool my brother and sister had always assured me I was. In front of me were three dishes: one held olives, another was filled with small gherkins and a third contained anchovy fillets. Which one could it be? I was a sweating nervous wreck – did the fish have a posh alternative name?”


“Boquerones,” supplied Perdita. Kit nodded, wisely.

“Did olives? In the end, I took a deep breath and guessed at the gherkins. She smiled and took one. I was triumphant, I also knew what cornichons were. Sadly, she took the dish from me and walked off to find her boyfriend.”

Perdita laughed.

“However,” Kit continued, “for months after that incident, everywhere I turned, there were cornichons and references to cornichons. Previously, I’d never known of their existence but now, the world was full of cornichons and this is my patented theory, The Cornichon Effect. Once something unusual is pointed out, you tend to find that word or item everywhere you turn. It’s as though the Universe has brought it to your attention for a reason and will keep bashing you over the head with it until you take notice. It’s the same with us and mermaids. Everywhere we turn we find another reference, yet six months ago, I doubt either of us had given them much thought.”

Kit folded his arms and sat back, with a satisfied expression on his face.

“It’s good to know a university education wasn’t wasted on you, Kit,” laughed Perdita. “Although, I do like it. The Cornichon Effect is a very interesting and promising theory Dr Mackensie.”

“Why thank you, Dr Rivers.”

Thanks to Bethan, Rob and Caroline for Kit’s outlandish theory. xx


The Elizabeth Tudor Conspiracy is published!

The second book in The Marquess House Trilogy has now been published – woohoo!! On Sunday 2 June 2019, The Elizabeth Tudor Conspiracy went live and today, my copies arrived from my lovely publishers Sapere Books.

Earlier this year, when The Catherine Howard Conspiracy was published I fulfilled my life-long dream to become a published author. To have two books published in six months is more that I ever imagined would be possible.


Thank you to Sapere for being my dream-makers and thank you to everyone who has bought the books and been kind enough to tell me how much you’ve enjoyed them.


Now, back to book three and all the final, big reveals!


Lady Isabel Baynton

Catherine Howard’s Ladies-in-Waiting

This blog post first appeared on my blog tour on but I’d like to share it here, too.

Hope you enjoy it!


Lady Isabel Baynton

One of the most enjoyable things about writing an historical novel is discovering the tiny details that make the period real on the page. While I was researching The Catherine Howard Conspiracy, I spent a great deal of time hunting out the life stories of the women who surrounded the young queen in order to create a group of realistic friends and confidants.

There are some well-known names linked with Catherine and her downfall: Lady Jane Boleyn, Thomas Culpeper, Katherine Tilney, Joan Bulmer and Mary Lascelles, but I wanted to find the other women, the friends and family members who were there and gave Catherine help and support at this strange, glorious, wonderful yet terrifying time.

After checking a list of her ladies-in-waiting (thank you,, I discovered Catherine had at least two of her sisters within her ladies-in-waiting: Lady Isabel Baynton and Margaret Howard, Lady Arundell. For some reason, I was drawn to Lady Isabel and she became an important character in The Catherine Howard Conspiracy. I would like to share a very brief outline of this fascinating woman’s story.

Isabel and Catherine were half-sisters through their mother, Jocasta or Joyce Culpeper. Jocasta was first married to Sir Ralph Leigh, Treasurer of the Inner Temple and Isabel’s birth date is given in the few pieces of information I have managed to find about her as around 1496. However, I doubt if this is the case and my reasoning for this statement revolves around her marriage to Sir Edward Baynton in 1531. If Isabel’s birth date is correct this would make her 35 on her wedding day, which would have been highly unusual. Girls married young and if a woman was married for the first time in her mid-30s there would have been records of her as a spinster or comments about her age. As neither topic is ever raised, I suspect her birth age is incorrect.

Despite this, Isabel was one of five children: John, Ralph, Margaret, Joyce and Isabel, although which order they were born in is unclear. Her father, Sir Ralph Leigh, died in 1509 and, four years later in 1513, Jocasta married Lord Edmund Howard. Edmund had numerous siblings including Elizabeth Boleyn – mother of Anne – and Thomas Howard, 3rd duke of Norfolk. Jocasta and Edmund had six children, including the future bride of Henry VIII: Catherine Howard.

There are very few records concerning Isabel’s early life, but by 1533 she was at court, where Anne Boleyn had become Henry VIII’s second wife. Isabel’s step-father, Lord Edmund Howard, was uncle to the new queen and, Isabel, now married to Sir Edward Baynton, the Vice Chamberlain to the queen, was enjoying life at the heart of the glamorous Tudor court. In the vast, sumptuous and bejewelled procession for Anne’s coronation, Isabel is listed as one of the twelve ladies who rode on horseback dressed in crimson velvet. Waving to the crowd and relishing in the excitement of life, she had the luxury of watching and taking part in the spectacle that was Henry VIII’s court but with none of the danger or intrigue.

Isabel was Edward Baynton’s second wife. He had previously been married to Elizabeth Sulyard and they had seven children: Bridget, Andrew, Edward, Henry, Anne, Jane and Ursula. When he married Isabel on 18 January 1531 Isabel became their stepmother. Edward owned the manors of Bromham in Wiltshire and Faulston in Salisbury, which he had inherited from his father, Sir John Baynton, giving Isabel a number of properties to choose from when she wished to escape from the tumult of court.

For three years, the court of Henry and Anne was the centre of Isabel’s world but in 1536, things began to go wrong for Anne Boleyn. She was accused of adultery with a string of men, including her brother, George Boleyn, viscount Rochford. Sir Edward Baynton was given the task of obtaining confessions from the accused men. Family ties to Anne aside, Edward must have done a good job because he was at Henry’s next wedding, to the king’s third wife Jane Seymour and was given the prestigious position of her Master of the Horse. It is likely Isabel was with him, particularly as they both attended the christening of baby Edward, the future King Edward VI, a year later.

Meanwhile, Isabel was building a family with Edward and gave birth to her first child, a boy named Henry in 1536, the year of Anne’s fall. The following year, a second son, Francis arrived and at some point, a daughter, Anne. Sadly, there is no recorded date of birth for Anne and as there are no records of her later in life either, it is assumed she died young.

After Queen Jane’s death on 24 October 1537, Isabel was one of the 29 women who walked in succession to mark each year of her life. For a short time after this, Edward and Isabel were guardians to Henry’s daughters, the princesses Mary and Elizabeth from the king’s marriages to Katherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn, respectively. Although the exact amount of time they held these roles is not recorded, it appears they remained close to the royal children and were regulars in their households throughout their youth.

Two years later, when the king announced he was to be married to the German princess, Anne of Cleves, Isabel and Edward returned to court. Edward, to once again take up the position of Vice-Chamberlain to the new queen and Isabel to be a lady-in-waiting. It probably never occurred to either of them that they would soon be drawn even deeper into the beating political heart of the Tudor England. As Henry turned from wife number four, to the wife number five, Isabel must have felt some misgivings as the king’s roving eye landed on the pretty face of the young Catherine Howard, Isabel’s half-sister. Isabel could only stand and watch as her younger sister became queen of England.

How would she have felt? Jealous, perhaps, although I think this is unlikely, having witnessed what other women had suffered at the hands of the king. Excited; she would be half-sister to the queen which would mean a rise in status, or terrified? Aware from her experience as lady-in-waiting to his previous wives how his mercurial mood could shift in a moment. We will never know but for Catherine it must have been a comfort to have an older sibling there to help her in this strange new world.

Catherine’s rise to the throne gave increased prestige to her family, including Isabel who, with her children, was granted ‘100 marks’, while Edward was granted the manor Semleigh, Wiltshire.

Once again though, the marriage was brief. Catherine was accused of lewd behaviour with men before she was queen, which she had not disclosed. While it looked as though this scandal might pass, another followed on its heels and a letter was found suggesting she was involved with Thomas Culpeper, a member of Henry’s bedchamber. Horrified, Henry stripped Catherine of her titles and refused to speak to her. She was removed to Syon Abbey in Isleworth, Middlesex to be questioned, with four women accompanying her, one of whom, was her elder sister, Isabel.

Some historians claim Isabel was a spy, passing information back to Thomas Cranmer, the archbishop of Canterbury and his investigators. Others that Isabel and Edward talked to Catherine at length trying to make her understand the danger she was in and to suggest that the affair with Culpeper had been rape. In the meantime, Jane Boleyn, who was supposed to have facilitated the affair, went insane with fear. How must Isabel have felt? She had already lived through the scandal of watching her step-aunt, Anne Boleyn, lose her life to Henry’s violence, now her younger sister was in a similar position.

In January 1542, the Bill of Attainder against Catherine and Jane was introduced to Parliament and on its third reading was passed. In the eyes of the law, they were already dead. On 10 February 1542, the dukes of Suffolk and Southampton escorted Catherine and Jane to the Tower of London. It is likely Isabel was with them. On 11 February 1542, the bill against Catherine and Jane became law and on the evening of 12 February, they were told they would be executed the next morning.

Records do not say who was with Catherine but it is possible Isabel stayed with her until the end. After this, Isabel vanishes from the lists of ladies-in-waiting. After such an experience, she must have left court, returning instead to one of the manors owned by her husband, either in disgrace because of her family tie to Catherine or because she could not bear to remain in such a violent and dangerous environment.

Two years later, Edward died. He was in France on campaign for Henry and died from his wounds. Although he had requested that he be buried in the family tomb at his manor in Bromham, Wiltshire, his body was never returned from France. After his death, Isabel was granted £6, 2s, 6d, as his widow.

It seems Isabel never returned to court. After Edward’s death, she married, James Stumpe. It was an odd union, as well as a little confusing, because James had first been married to Bridget Baynton, Isabel’s step-daughter. However, Bridget had died in 1545 and these two decided to keep things in the family. They were together until James’s death in 1563. Two years after James’s death, in 1565, she married a man called Thomas Stafford.

Isabel died on 16 February 1573, by which time she would have witnessed all three of Henry’s children take the throne in turn. Her life had spanned the reigns of five monarchs, she had seen her sister beheaded, she had survived scandals at court, married three times and ended her life in a comfortable manner. Isabel Baynton stood on the sidelines as history unfolded around her, on occasions drawing her to the very centre of events, yet, she is unknown to the majority of people except as a passing footnote in the story of other people’s lives. I hope that by including her in my novel, I’ve given Isabel her voice back.


The Catherine Howard Conspiracy is available from Amazon  and The Elizabeth Howard Conspiracy, which is the second part of The Marquess House Trilogy, will be available on Kindle and in paperback from Sunday 2 June 2019. 

It’s Blog Tour Week!

Morning all, it’s the first day of the blog tour for The Catherine Howard Conspiracy and here are the first three brilliant blogs. Thank you for the amazing reviews!

Beady Jan


Books Are Cool


Bookish Jottings

I’ll update you as the tour progresses.



The Catherine Howard Conspiracy Blog Tour!

The Catherine Howard Conspiracy is going on a blog tour from Monday 13 May 2019 – Friday 17 May 2019.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with such an event, which until very recently included me, then the Wikipedia definition is:

A blog tour is a set amount of time in which your book is promoted
across various websites and blogs. The dates are set in advance, each
blog knows what material it will be posting and the content should
be unique to each blog.

The number of people hosting me is huge and I’d like to say thank you to each and every one of them for taking the time to read The Catherine Howard Conspiracy and help to tell the world about it.  Sapare Books are pretty awesome, too, for organising this event. Thank you!

The details are here:

If you have time, please do follow us and join in the fun. I’ve written guest blogs for History from a Woman’s Perspective and Chicks, Rogues and Scandals, as well as doing an interview for Jorie Loves a Story. It was quite odd, after years of being a journalist, to be the one answering the questions rather than asking them.

And, in case the writing on the above poster is a bit too tiny, here’s the full list of the tour dates and links:

Monday 13 May

Beady Jan’s Books –

Bookish Jottings –

The Lit Bitch –

CBailey31 –

Books Are Cool –

Tuesday 14 May

History from a Woman’s Perspective – Guest Blog –

A Lover of Books –

Pursuing Stacie –

The Crime Review –

Jorie Loves a Story – Author Interview –

Wednesday 15 May

Chicks, Rogues and Scandals – Guest Blog –

Varietats –

Just Book Talk –

Steph’s Book Blog –

Let Them Read Books –


Thursday 16 May

Mrs Brown’s Books –

Carole’s Book Corner –

My Bookish Blogspot –

Books of All Kinds –

Friday 17 May

Donna’s Book Blog –

The Book Scoop – (Link to come!)

Historical Fiction with Spirit –

Jera’s Jamboree –

A Darn Good Read –

Carole Rae’s Random Ramblings –

Hope to see you on tour next week!

Six Weeks Later

It’s six weeks today since @SapereBooks made my dream come true and published my first novel #TheCatherineHowardConspiracy.  It was years in the writing: research, more research, rewrites, new characters, new writing style, new agent but, finally, it was on the page and winging its merry way into the world. Since it was published on 28 March 2019,  it’s been an Amazon Bestseller, received over 100 reviews and, the thing that has amazed me the most, are the many wonderful messages I’ve been sent from readers, reviewers and book bloggers  who have enjoyed it. It’s humbling and I can’t express my thanks enough.


Even more exciting, part two of the series, #TheElizabethTudorConspiracy will be out on 2 June 2019, which is only four weeks away. To have one book published is incredible, to have two is beyond words.


Not only that, #BookThree of #TheMarquessHouseTrilogy is going very well, in fact, the end is in sight and it’s very strange to finally be revealing all the secrets I’ve been keeping hidden for so long in Marquess House. Putting these big reveals on the page is both exhilarating and sad; it’s great to share the end with everyone but it also means I won’t be spending my days with Perdita, Piper, Kit and everyone else at Marquess House. They’ve been with me for such a long time, I’ll miss them. Although, it isn’t goodbye yet, there is the rest of the book to finish and that won’t happen overnight, so I won’t start the leaving party too early.

Now, back to Marquess House where the secrets are being uncovered thick and fast!

Thanks again everyone, especially the wonderful people at Sapere Books, as ever, you’re awesome! @SapereBooks #amwriting #books #historicalfiction #thankyou

And, finally!

To finish this incredible, life-changing week, we had a celebratory lunch at Runwayskiln in Marloes. The weather was perfect and the views of the Pembrokeshire coastline were stunning.

The real Jenny and Izabel

To complete the day,
I was with some of the people I love best in the world, including the real Jenny Procter and Izabel Barnes. (Something which will make sense when you’ve read The Catherine Howard Conspiracy!)

If you’re interested, here’s the link to Runwayskiln. It was a fabulous lunch and is well worth a visit if you’re in Pembrokeshire.


Home Page




It’s Publication Day!

Whoever thought a sunny Thursday in March could be so life-changing? For most people it’s probably a normal day but for me, it’s a day of dreams come true. After years and years of dreaming, followed by years and years of writing, of getting so close I could almost touch it, of seeing book deals dissolve before my eyes and of thinking it would never happen: I’m finally a published author.

The Catherine Howard Conspiracy is now live. It is a real book. She’s out on her own in the big wide world and I have to stand by to watch her succeed or fall on her own. Hardly nerve-wracking at all! Even more exciting, The Catherine Howard Conspiracy is an Amazon best seller, which is truly the most unexpected thing.


Thank you to everyone who has bought it, I hope you enjoy the story and if you do, it continues for another two books: The Elizabeth Tudor Conspiracy and The… Sorry, that would be telling!


And if you want the paperback, the link is here but it’ll join up to the eBook later today!


Thanks again to all the gang at Sapere Books, you’re dream makers!






The Elizabeth Tudor Conspiracy: Cover Reveal!

Exciting news!!

The Elizabeth Tudor Conspiracy, the second part of The Marquess House Trilogy is now available for pre-order and will be released on 2 June 2019.

In the present day, the action in The Elizabeth Tudor Conspiracy picks up  from the end of The Catherine Howard Conspiracy, while the historical sections takes us to a new era of Tudor history!

Read more about it here:

A timeshift conspiracy thriller that will shock you to your core! Perfect for fans of Dan Brown, Philippa Gregory, Kate Mosse and Tom Harper. 

What secrets were covered up at the court of Henry VIII …?

 Nonsuch Palace, England, 1586

 Elizabeth I has been queen for 28 years. She has survived hundreds of plots against her but now she faces the revelation of a secret she thought would remain hidden forever…

Elizabeth is not the last of the Tudor line—there are two more legitimate heirs to her crown.

Her sworn enemy, Philip II, King of Spain, has discovered the secret and thinks he can control the missing princess as his puppet queen.

Can Elizabeth maintain control over her throne? And what happened to the lost Tudor heirs?

Castle Jerusalem, Andorra, 2018

Dr Perdita Rivers and her twin sister Piper are safely hidden in Andorra.

Despite their narrow escape from those pursuing them, Perdita is determined to continue her grandmother’s legacy by uncovering her ground-breaking research into the English royal bloodline.

But she soon realises that nothing about the Tudor era was as it seemed. And now the national identity of Great Britain must be called into question.

With their enemies still tracking them and the lives of those they love in deadly risk, Perdita and Piper must succeed in exposing the secrets of history or there is no hope of them escaping alive…

 THE ELIZABETH TUDOR CONSPIRACY is the second book in the Marquess House trilogy, a dual timeline conspiracy thriller with an ingenious twist on a well-known period of Tudor history.



BOOK ONE: The Catherine Howard Conspiracy

BOOK TWO: The Elizabeth Tudor Conspiracy



Writing historical fiction

Today, it has taken me three hours to write two paragraphs. Not because I’m particularly slow at writing and, for once, not because I’ve allowed myself to wander all over the Internet pretending to be doing “research” (apparently, Harry Potter quizzes are not research, who knew? Neither are quizzes discovering which vegetable represents you… Weird).

The reason for this is because while you are setting a scene, every detail has to be as accurate as you’re able to make it. Sometimes you have to use your imagination and fill in the gaps but if you can get real events into your world, it does give a more authentic ring to the story.


One of my characters needed to receive a package containing books. Each of which, for authenticity purposes, I felt should be named. Three hours, six reference books, two dissertations found online, numerous blogs, Wiki pages leading to other primary sources and a thorough search of the National Archives website and I had my three lines of text. It will flash past practically unnoticed but at least I know I gave making it authentic my best shot.


The angels are in the details and so are the plot twists!