Guest Post by Deborah Swift + Giveaway of The Gilded Lily

Passages to the Past is so honored to welcome author Deborah Swift to the blog today!  Deborah is currently on tour with Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for her novel THE GILDED LILY and has stopped by today with a guest post and giveaway!

Hi Deborah, it's great to have you here at Passages to the Past!


Thanks for the invitation to share this post, Amy.

I thought I would share with you two of the artists that inspired my descriptions in The Gilded Lily. When I began writing I looked at many images of 17th century London to find out about the detail of the period. Not for me the lavish courts of Charles II, the usual setting for novels of the 17th century, for my main characters are two sisters from a small rural village who arrive wide-eyed to the bustle of the London in winter.

Bold Ella Appleby and her timid sister Sadie are on the run, and they are soon sucked into the London underworld of gambling dens, coffee houses and taverns. Most paintings of the period are of the aristocracy so it was a while before I discovered Gerard Van Honthorst, a dutch artist painting earlier in the century whose style conveyed the dimly lit interiors I was wanting to portray. London in winter must have been a place flickering with the light of fires and candles, and dense with smoke from coal and tobacco.

Honthorst was an imitator of Caravaggio and excelled in painting scenes illuminated by candlelight, scenes that show men and women eating, musicians and card players. Here were the interiors that inspired me with their atmosphere, and here were the colourful close-up portraits I sought. He was also particularly good at portraying costume detail – the way the sleeves were tied on to the bodice in a contrasting colour, slashed and ruffled decoration, and feather hats and head-pieces.

Honthorst came from Utrecht, but was in England on a few occasions as he was a favourite of Queen Elizabeth of Bohemia, sister of Charles I. He painted court portraits and also religious scenes. He was so popular in the Netherlands that he was able to open a second studio in the Hague where he taught drawing, and painted members of the aristocracy. At the height of his popularity he had twenty four students studying under him, each paying him 100 guilders a year.

The second artist to inspire me was Visscher, with his Panorama of London, (these pictures from the London Museum) which is a wonderfully detailed drawing of London. Claes Jansz Visscher was a Dutch publisher, the first in a printing dynasty that spanned three generations. The Guildhall Library has the earliest copy of this map dated 1616. It shows the old St Paul’s Church before it was burnt down in the Great Fire of London and re-designed by Wren. The church’s truncated appearance is because it was actually struck by lightning in 1561 and lost its spire.

The other picture shows London Bridge. London Bridge was the only way of crossing the Thames other than by paying a waterman and going by boat. You can see how large the buildings were that the bridge had to support. No wonder there was a rhyme about it falling down! Also visible are the heads of criminals on spikes above the bridge. St Mary Overy, the church in the foreground later became Southwark Cathedral. Along with this drawing and several other detailed old maps I was able to navigate myself around the winding alleys of 17th century London.

In actual fact there is some doubt about the accuracy of this map, as it is believed to have been copied (with a degree of artistic licence) from an earlier map by Norden. However, it is one of the few clues remaining to us as to what London would have looked like in the 17th century.

For a much more detailed, beautifully hand-coloured close up of this map please visit

I hope you have enjoyed this little insight into my sources, and I thank Amy for hosting me.


Publication Date:  September 13, 2012
Pan Macmillan


Winter, 1661. In her short life Sadie Appleby has never left rural Westmorland. But one night she is rudely awoken by her older and bolder sister, Ella. She has robbed her employer and is on the run. Together the girls flee their home and head for London, hoping to lose themselves in the teeming city. But the dead man's relatives are in pursuit, and soon a game of cat and mouse ensues amongst the freezing warren that is London in winter. Ella is soon seduced by the glitter and glamour of city life and sets her sights on the flamboyant man-about-town, Jay Whitgift, owner of a beauty parlour for the wives of the London gentry. But nothing in the capital is what it seems, least of all Jay Whitgift. Soon a rift has formed between Ella and Sadie, and the sisters are threatened by a menace more sinister than even the law. Set in a brilliantly realised Restoration London, The Gilded Lily is a novel about beauty and desire, about the stories we tell ourselves, and about how sisterhood can be both a burden and a saving grace.



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

GIVEAWAY (International)

- To enter, please leave a comment below and include your email address (only comments with email addresses will be entered in the giveaway).
- +5 additional entries become a follower of Passages to the Past. If you are already a follower you will automatically receive the bonus entries. 
- +3 additional entries join the Passages to the Past FB Page.
- +3 additional entries follow PTTP on Twitter.
- +1 additional entry each, please help spread the word by blogging, posting on sidebar, tweeting or posting this giveaway on Facebook or Google+.  You can use the SHARE buttons below.
- Giveaway ends on October 5th. 

The Gilded Lily UK Tour Button


  1. 5 I am a follower
    booksforlife01 [at) gmail dot com
    3 I follow on twitter
    3 facebook

    And Last wohoo international :D I do wanna read this one

  2. I had no idea that it was that cold then. I have read 'The Lady's Slipper' and loved it. I thought that the author did a tremendous amount of research and it was easy to get in and stay with the story. Thank you for this giveaway.


  3. I would love to read this book! Thank you for the giveaway Amy!

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    +1 posted on sidebar of my blog

    momkelly2003 at yahoo dot com

  4. I think I've just left a comment after the wrong (earlier) post - apologies! Just wanted to say how interested I was to read about the influence of particular painters on Deborah's work. Honthorst is a great favourite of mine, especially his Christ Before the High Priest (National Gallery). Again, magical use of candlelight.

  5. I'd love a copy of The Gilded Lily. I keep reading about it and getting more interested.

    +5 follower
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  6. I've really enjoyed reading novels about Charles' court so it will be great to read a novel from a different perspective.

    I am a GFC Follower

    I am a Facebook follower

  7. I would LOVE to read this book! Thanks, Amy!

    tiger_fan_1997 AT yahoo DOT com

    +5 Follower
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  8. I would love to read this.
    jeninquincy at gmail com.

    I am a GFC follower +5
    I am in the FB group +3

  9. I am a GFC follower and would love to be counted in.


  10. I wonder what possessed Ella to commit the crime and why she dragged her sister into it. Sounds pretty scary to me.
    I follow with email
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  11. Thanks for sharing all the pics you found, they're fantastic!

    +5 gfc mamabunny13
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  12. Thank you for the chance to win this book.
    Griperang at embarqmail dot com
    5- follower
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    3-twitter follower
    1-google -
    1-twitter -
    1-facebook -!/angela.holland.359/posts/529232947092049
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    Total - 15

  13. Sounds like a really good book, I have never read this author and would love to start.

    I am a follower already, also on fb too. :)

  14. A fascinating post thank you.I would love to read THE GILDED LILY.

    +5 follower
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  15. This sounds like a very good book. Thanks for the chance to win.

  16. Count me in. Thanks for the giveaway. I'm a follower.

    nanze55 at hotmail dot com

  17. Thanks for the giveaway. I'd love to read this.

    +5 follower
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    +3 Twitter follower (bodice ripper novels)

    Terri, niteofblu at gmail dot com

  18. I loved this post -- Swift's novel has a wonderfully evocative feel so I'm unsurprised she was inspired by such tactile and vibrant images. I loved this book -- no need to enter me in the giveaway -- I just had to gush!

  19. This book looks really interesting!
    Thank you for the giveaway!


  20. This book sounds SO great, and I loved the pictures! Thanks so much for the chance to win a copy of this awesome book:)

    +5 GFC Julie Witt
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  21. I've been looking forward to reading this book!

    I follow PTTP blog via email, FB, and Twitter

  22. Thanks for the guest post Deborah and especially for including the paintings. I think they are an inspiration to all of us as well. The Gilded Lily sounds like quite a good story and it's certainly set in an interesting time and place. Many thanks for the chance to win a copy.

    I follow PTTP by email, so I'm easily contacted here: carlscott(at)prodigy(dot)net(dot)mx

    I am a member of the Passages to the Past FB Page: Carl Scott

    I also follow PTTP on Twitter: @carlrscott

    and, I tweeted about the giveaway:

    Thanks again!

  23. I would love to win a copy of The Gilded Lily. It sounds really interesting. Thank you for the giveaway.
    I am a follower on the web, facebook and email.

  24. Audra (commenter above) is the review that made me decide I NEED this book :)

  25. thanks foe this great giveaway. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

  26. I want this book lol!

    -blog follower
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    -shared on twitter


  27. It's so interesting to know that Deborah worked as a set and costume designer at BBC. I really liked The Lady's Slipper. It was rich with detail.


  28. Thanks for the giveaway! I promptly picked up The Lady's Slipper (and some other books - I guess it was go big or go home when it came to buying books!) How cool is the Visscher Panorama of London??? I love, love, and LOVE, old maps!!

    sidhekist at gmail dot com


    5 follower
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  30. The Gilded Lily sounds like a book i would enjoy!!! thank you for the giveaway!!!

    cyn209 at juno dot com

    +5 = follower of Passages to the Past
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    +1 = shared on Facebook,

  31. It's interest to see these maps of London. This books sounds really good and I know I would enjoy it!

    +5 I follow on GFC

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    +1 Shared on Google +

    mittens0831 at aol dot com

  32. I would love to read this book! Great guest post by Deborah; really interesting paintings!

    lafra86 at gmail dot com

    Google follower
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  33. I follow of:

    I shared on:
    kaiminani at

  34. Sounds really goos! I am a subscriber, a FB follower, and follow on twitter.
    mljcwsu at yahoo dot com

  35. It looks really good and the trailer was good to.
    GFC follower
    twitter follower

  36. I'm a follower on GFC.
    I follow on FB.
    I follow on Twitter.
    I shared on FB.

    I really enjoyed the art inspiration! :)

    Thank you for the chance to win!

  37. I like the storyline and the pictures of historical London. The detail of the images is so interesting!

    +5 GFC follower
    +3 Twitter follower: @fieryna


  38. Hi there, this sounds like a story that I'd like to read. Please enter me in the giveaway. I find the seventeenth century fascinating in English history due to the political uprisings and social upheavels that took place, and I definitely like a good mystery with true historical atmosphere. Thank you for the very interesting post and giveaway.

    Longtime follower of Passages to the Past
    I am liker of the the Passages to the Past FB Page.
    I follow PTTP on Twitter.
    I tweeted, posted to Facebook, pinned on pinterest and +1'd


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