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Lindsey Davis

About The Author


Lindsey DavisBorn in Birmingham, Lindsey Davis read English at Oxford before working in the Civil Service. She decided to become a full-time writer when one of her early novels was runner-up in the 1985 Georgette Heyer Historical Novel Prize. She began by writing romantic serials for the magazines, Woman's Realm.

Her passion for Roman-era history and archaeology led her to write The Course of Honour, based on the true story of a romance between Emperor Vespasian and his mistress Antonia Caenis. This led to the much-loved Falco series of 20 novels about a detective in ancient Rome. In 2010, she published an official guide to her Roman-era series, Falco: The Official Companion.

She published a standalone novel set during English Civil War, called Rebels and Traitors and a Quickread set in the same period, A Cruel Fate. Another standalone novel, Master and God, is set during the reign of the Emperor Domitian and led to her new detective series about Falco’s adopted daughter, Flavia Albia. This shows Rome from a different perspective: that of a woman and an outsider from Britain. In addition, the familiar world of Vespasian’s Rome is now much darker, with a paranoid ruler who we know from Master and God will come to a violent end.

Lindsey has won numerous awards, culminating in the Crimewriters' Association Cartier Diamond Dagger for lifetime achievement in 2011. In addition, she has also been Chair of the UK Crimewriters' Association, Honorary President of the Classical Association and Chair of the Society of Authors.

Find out more about Lindsey and her books on her official website. www. Lindseydavis.co.uk

To mark the publication of her standalone novel, Master and God, Lindsey shared some of the books that have inspired and entertained her most during a lifetime of reading and writing, you can see these below.

Find out more about Lindsey and her books on her official website.

 

Her latest book is The Third Nero, the fifth Flavia Albia novel. Below, exclusively for Foyles, in An Unusual Job for a Roman Woman, Lindsey introduces her book and describes the challenges - and joys - of having a female protagonist in a world previously seen almost exclusively through the eyes of men.

 

 

The Author At Foyles

Third Nero coverAn Unusual Job for a Roman Woman

 

I can hardly believe we are publishing the fifth novel in my ‘new’ Flavia Albia series – especially as that means I am well into writing the sixth!

I remember when I set out to write Falco, I considered whether I could have a female protagonist. Then, hard though it is to believe now, all historical novels had a reputation as difficult to sell, and no popular novels about the Romans were being written at all. I chose to do something original, which meant I had to train publishers to accept this long ago period was not scary. I nearly didn’t make it. So at that time, even though female crimewriters were experimenting with female detectives, I decided I had enough problems making ancient Rome accessible and a Roman detective believable. I made my protagonist a man.

            I used to say that if you believed the textbooks, Roman women had no legal identity. Until very recently textbooks were written by public school men. They took their lead from surviving Latin authors – who of course were all men too, and writing for a specific masculine élite. According to what these fine fellows repeated for many centuries, Roman women could only act through their fathers or husbands. Although their position was slightly freer than that of ancient Greek women (they could appear in public with the said fathers or husbands), no respectable woman could do the job I assigned to Falco. Only a prostitute or a midwife could knock on strangers’ doors and start asking questions. I didn’t fancy the research I’d need to do to write about either profession.

In time I gained more confidence. I studied enough to see that apart from the senatorial orders, which were a very minor part of Roman society, women throughout the Empire had vital roles. By definition, Roman marriage was a partnership, two people deciding to live together in an equal relationship. I certainly chose that for Falco and Helena Justina. And as I studied inscriptions, documents and tombstones, I found evidence that the accepted definition was wrong. At most levels of society, women were equal in family businesses. Pictorially, women were shown the same size as their husbands, which in ancient art matters. Women could inherit, or have legal pleas made on their behalf, or indeed be sued. Women owned ships, ran stalls, had job definitions in the female Latin form.

So, after 20 Falco books, I had made Rome familiar. I had persuaded readers to accept him as an ex-army scout who becomes a private eye and imperial agent. I had written in the first person as a man for long enough and was ready for a change. I reckoned that with carefully chosen cases I could give Albia the same occupation.

At first, Albia supposedly works for women. Her first client, in The Ides of April is a woman, though she is soon murdered. This is classic, of course. In fiction, private eyes rarely have much luck with their clients. In Enemies at Home Albia works with slaves, in Deadly Election she takes on a favour for her lover, and in The Graveyard of the Hesperides the search involves a supposedly missing barmaid. All this is subtly ‘suitable’.

Along the way she meets Tiberius Manlius Faustus, who is a magistrate, an aedile. He is plebeian but rich. Public office has made him reconsider how he spends his life. He will give up being an idle playboy, return to his forebears’ business, as a building contractor (so useful for turning up bodies), and he will publicly marry Albia. I have set them up to show how Roman family businesses ran.

At the start of The Third Nero things are rocky because Tiberius, to whom readers have taken in a big way, had a near-fatal accident during their wedding and may be a permanent invalid. (No, no, he won’t, don’t worry!) Albia sits down and actually tells us how, in the family business, it is her responsibility to pay the bills while he can’t.

And at this point, I branched out in what she takes on – taking it as far as possible. In this book, Albia, like her father, works for the government. Albia helps save Rome from ruination. Albia comments on politics, and sceptically denigrates the tools that officials use. Yes we are in the world of ancient intelligence. I have always loved spy novels. And now it’s my turn to write one!

© Lindsey Davis 2017

Author Picks

The Rose
(Hardback)
Jennifer Potter
A lovely book that combines my love of history with my love of old roses. The research is detailed and accessible, with wonderful photos of the history of roses in art too.
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£30.00
 

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The Magic Pudding
(Paperback)
Norman Lindsay
Sticking with food, and indeed with colourful characters: Albert, the cut-and-come-again runaway pud, is a joy. I’m thrilled that this brilliant Australian classic is still available. It made me the anarchist I am today. In which spirit: Albert is a Puddin’. Any mimsy, namby-pamby Apostrophe Thieves who insist on the g should be put on the RHS pest list!
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£11.99
 
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The Hairy Bikers' Perfect Pies: The...
(Hardback)
Hairy Bikers; Dave Myers; Si King
This would be my modern choice; I watch them on TV, primarily because of their pies. Si and Dave are so keen on good grub, my old Mum would have adopted them. (Once she had cut their hair.)
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£25.00
 
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£25.00
 
Desiree
(Paperback)
Annemarie Selinko
When I was growing up I read many historical novels written for girls, but this story of Desirée Clary, the silk-merchant’s daughter who loves Napoleon but marries Bernadotte, shook me out of assuming heroes had to be handsome and marriages had to last for ever; it also sharpened my liking for novels about the rise of famous men (and women).
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£9.99
 
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Mary Berry's Complete Cookbook
(Hardback)
Mary Berry
I am still using my 40-year-old copy, from which I learned to cook. I can do their Orange Tarragon Chicken with my eyes shut – and it’s actually healthy when you forget to buy soured cream so must substitute yoghurt. I am given the strawberry Pavlova every Christmas – yummy.
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Ancient Inventions
(Paperback)
Peter James; Nick J. Thorpe
Finally, this is a long term ancient world favourite. How can you not adore Aztek chewing gum and Stone Age brain surgery? Mind you, I still think their piece on using iron filings as a contraceptive device is a deliberate joke to see if one is awake…
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Captain Hornblower R.N.: Hornblower...
(Paperback)
C. S. Forester
I read historical novels for boys just as voraciously. My first love was Biggles, but Horny has that little extra (specifically, he likes women). 'A Ship of the Line' [included in this collection] is probably my favourite.
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Shorter Oxford English Dictionary
(Hardback)
Oxford Dictionaries
This is the version in two volumes, and is the one I use. It gives not only the meaning and spelling of the words, but dates for their earliest use – always so handy when picky people insist I have used an anachronism! No, seriously, it’s fascinating.
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Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
(Paperback)
John Le Carre
Even if it wasn't so topical, I would have picked a Smiley novel. I love the understated style and beautiful story-telling. And I love spies.
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£8.99
 
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Available Titles By This Author

The Third Nero: Flavia Albia 5 ...
(Hardback)
Lindsey Davis
 
 
£18.99
 
The Graveyard of the Hesperides:...
(Paperback)
Lindsey Davis
 
 
£8.99
 
A Dying Light In Corduba: (Falco 8)...
(Paperback)
Lindsey Davis
 
 
£7.99
 
Alexandria: (Falco 19)
(Paperback)
Lindsey Davis
 
 
£8.99
 
Last Act in Palmyra
(Paperback)
Lindsey Davis
 
 
£7.99
 
Deadly Election: Falco: the New...
(Hardback)
Lindsey Davis
 
 
£16.99
 
Nemesis: (Falco 20)
(Paperback)
Lindsey Davis
 
 
£8.99
 
Poseidon's Gold
(Paperback)
Lindsey Davis
 
 
£8.99
 
Rebels and Traitors
(Paperback)
Lindsey Davis
 
 
£8.99
 
Saturnalia
(Paperback)
Lindsey Davis
 
 
£7.99
 
See Delphi And Die: (Falco 17)
(Paperback)
Lindsey Davis
 
 
£7.99
 

Currently out of stock

Master and God
(Hardback)
Lindsey Davis
 
 
£18.99
 

Currently out of stock

Deadly Election: Flavia Albia 3...
(Paperback)
Lindsey Davis
 
 
£7.99
 
Shadows in Bronze
(Paperback)
Lindsey Davis
 
 
£8.99
 
The Silver Pigs: (Falco 1) From the...
(Paperback)
Lindsey Davis
 
 
£8.99
 
Time to Depart
(Paperback)
Lindsey Davis
 
 
£7.99
 
Ode To A Banker
(Paperback)
Lindsey Davis
 
 
£7.99
 
One Virgin Too Many
(Paperback)
Lindsey Davis
 
 
£7.99
 
The Iron Hand Of Mars
(Paperback)
Lindsey Davis
 
 
£7.99
 
Three Hands In The Fountain
(Paperback)
Lindsey Davis
 
 
£7.99
 
Two For The Lions
(Paperback)
Lindsey Davis
 
 
£7.99
 
Venus In Copper
(Paperback)
Lindsey Davis
 
 
£7.99
 
The Accusers: (Falco 15)
(Paperback)
Lindsey Davis
 
 
£7.99
 
The Jupiter Myth: (Falco 14)
(Paperback)
Lindsey Davis
 
 
£7.99
 

Past Events for this Author

Latest Blog
#FoylesFave: Dunkirk
21/07/2017

This month history buffs and film fans are united as they eagerly await Christopher Nolan's portrayal of Dunkirk. Madga from our Birmingham branch reviews the accompanying book.

#FoylesFave: Theft by Finding
19/07/2017

Meg from our web team discusses her love for all things Sedaris as his first volume of diaries is published.

Marian Veevers on Why No Woman is Simply a Product of the Time in which She Lives
18/07/2017

On the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen's death, Marian Veevers explains why no woman is simply a product of the time in which she lives.

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