Author of the Month: Bernard Cornwell

Our Author of the Month for January is the ever popular Bernard Cornwell.

Bernard Cornwell has written over 60 books and sold over 30 million copies worldwide.

Bernard is best known for the ‘Sharpe’ series, the central protagonist played by Sean Bean in the hugely popular Television Series.

Bernard primarily writes Historical fiction and his novels always end with an exploration of how they differ from real History.

Find his work on our catalogue:

‘I play merry hell with history, I admit it’ – Bernard Cornwell, The Guardian

Red tape and sealing wax? Using old title deeds for local and family history.

Have you discovered that one of your ancestors, or a house you are researching, features in a bundle of parchment title deeds? Are you feeling defeated by line after line of repetitive text reading ‘whereas’ this, ‘whereas’ that, ‘of the one part’, ‘of the other part’? Help is at hand!

This talk will show how most deeds fit into one of a few standard categories, and once you have understood how each type works, you can quickly jump to the key details to find out what they contribute to the story of a house or family.

This is an online talk using Zoom. Participants will be required to download and use Zoom.

Previous knowledge/experience required: All you need to attend a talk on Zoom is some basic computer skills and experience in using the internet. Don’t worry if you have not used it before as we will send you some basic guidance when you book.

You will receive an email confirming your booking from Hampshire Archives and Local Studies or Wessex Film and Sound Archive, which will contain the Zoom link.

Join us for this fantastic talk on Monday 16 August at 6pm. Tickets are just £5 and can be booked by clicking ‘Book Now’.

Books you can borrow…

Reserve the books today by clicking on the book cover:

Property title deeds are perhaps the most numerous sources of historical evidence but also one of the most neglected. While the information any one deed contains can often be reduced to a few lines, it can be of critical importance for family and local historians. Nat Alcock’s handbook aims to help the growing army of enthusiastic researchers to use the evidence of these documents, without burying them in legal technicalities. It also reveals how fascinating and rewarding they can be once their history, language and purpose are understood. A sequence of concise, accessible chapters explains why they are so useful, where they can be found and how the evidence they provide can be extracted and applied.

This publication is a practical guide combining genealogy with growing interest in tracing the history of your own house, buildings and community. It explains how to follow your own trail of discovery using a range of sources, starting with the building itself and progressing to who lived there.

Anyone who wants to find out about the history of their house needs to read this compact, practical handbook. Whether you live in a manor house or on a planned estate, in a labourer’s cottage, a tied house, a Victorian terrace, a 20th-century council house or a converted warehouse – this is the book for you. In a series of concise, information-filled chapters, Gill Blanchard shows you how to trace the history of your house or flat, how to gain an insight into the lives of the people who lived in it before you, and how to fit it into the wider history of your neighbourhood.

This guide will enable individuals to construct a history of their own house, a childhood home, or another property, and describes the many sources of information available to the house detective.

If we tried to sink the past beneath our feet, be sure the future would not stand.

– Elizabeth Barrett Browning

30 year anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall

9 November 2019 marks 30 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall that divided East and West Berlin.

History behind the wall

As the Second World War ended Germany’s land was divided. The east of Berlin went to the Soviet Union and the west went to the United States of America and Great Britain. The Soviets blockaded West Berlin in order to get the allies to retreat. Instead, the US began what was known as the ‘Berlin Airlift’ by delivering food and goods by air.

After this time, many people were fleeing from eastern territory into the west. To prevent the flow of citizens crossing the border for good, in two weeks a wall was built by the Soviets and anyone spotted trying to escape was immediately shot.

The fall of the wall

On 9 November 1989, the East Berlin communist party announced that the citizens were free to cross the border. Soon the wall began to come down using the help of cranes, bulldozers and even their own bare hands. The fall of the Berlin wall was seen by the citizens as the final end to the war.

Information sourced from

Hampshire Libraries hold books with information about the Berlin Wall and first hand accounts from the people who lived through this fractious time.

Hampshire Library Booklist

Checkpoint Charlie : the Cold War, the Berlin Wall and the most dangerous place on Earth / Iain MacGregor.

This is a powerful, fascinating, and ground-breaking history of Checkpoint Charlie, the legendary and most important military gate on the border of East and West Berlin where the United States and her allies confronted the USSR during the Cold War.

The tunnels : the untold story of the escapes under the Berlin Wall / Greg Mitchell.

In the summer of 1962, one year after the rise of the Berlin Wall, a group of daring young West Germans risked prison, Stasi torture and even death to liberate friends, lovers, and strangers in East Berlin by digging tunnels under the Wall. Then, as the world’s press heard about the secret projects, two television networks raced to be the first to document them from the inside, funding two separate tunnels for exclusive rights to film the escapes. In response, President John F. Kennedy and his administration, wary of anything that might raise tensions and force a military confrontation with the Soviets, maneuvered to quash both documentaries.

Forty autumns : a family’s story of courage and survival on both sides of the Berlin Wall / Nina Willner.

When Nina’s mother Hanna was just 20 years old, she escaped to West Germany with nothing more than a small satchel and the clothes on her back. It was the dawn of the Cold War. Hanna left her parents, siblings and everything she had ever known behind. ‘Forty Autumns’ traces the dramatic lives of the family on both sides of the Iron Curtain. Hanna eventually moved to America where she gave birth to Nina and her brother. Years after Hanna’s brave escape to the West, Nina found herself working as an Army Intelligence officer in Berlin, leading secret operations just miles away from the family her mother left behind all those years ago.

When the wall came down : the Berlin Wall and the fall of Soviet Communism / Serge Schmemann.

With full-colour maps and photographs throughout, this title presents the story of the Berlin Wall, from construction to destruction, from the point of view of a journalist who covered its fall.

Stasiland : stories from behind the Berlin Wall / Anna Funder.

In this book, Anna Funder tells the stories of people who found the courage to resist the Stasi, the communist regime’s secret police.

National Book Lover’s Day

On Wednesday 9th August 2017 come one, come all, come lovers of books! Let’s celebrate one of our favourite days of the year – National Book Lover’s Day! It falls on the ninth of every August and is filled with adventurous novels, newly discovered authors, and old favourites. So feel free to participate and spread the word and the love!

The occasion for expressing a love of reading and of books themselves. Whether it be their practical significance in history, or the stories and ideas that they bring to our lives, this is something worth celebrating.

Click above: Discover how books have shaped history!

But it is also a day to share publicly your favourite reads to promote to others, a sociable community event, bringing people together through their love of reading. A great time to consider joining a book groups. Get involved with a group at your local library or find one in your area that suits your tastes or offers something completely new and different! Better still, if you’ve got a great idea for a book group and would like to reach out to others, read our guide on setting up your group.  

You can also find communal enjoyment of books through our library events, such at our weekly Storytimes and author talks in library and Discovery Centre branches.

Above: Library Storytime, Claire Fuller author talk and Veronica Cossanteli with her reptile friends!

However in order to appreciate Book Lovers Day, one needs only to find a story and read it. Maybe you wish to dive into the unknown with a good mystery, or see magic in a high fantasy setting, or be enthralled in a steamy romance. The individual genre of your reading is not the big piece of this, just that you do read is. Maybe a visit to your local library is in order? Our staff will gladly help you find a title to read, giving a brief explanation on what it is about if they have read it, or giving it a little flip and reading about it quickly in the synopsis.

Click, borrow and share a classic!

But no matter your preference, if you read it at home with a cup of tea, share a book meeting with friends or go to the library and make use of the wonderful pieces on those shelves, just enjoy your reading, revel in the book and find a way to read during Book Lovers Day!

Stoner by John Williams

About the book

William Stoner enters the University of Missouri at nineteen to study agriculture. A seminar on English literature changes his life, and he never returns to work on his father’s farm. Stoner becomes a teacher. He marries the wrong woman. His life is quiet, and after his death his colleagues remember him rarely. Yet with truthfulness, compassion and intense power, this novel uncovers a story of universal value. Stoner tells of the conflicts, defeats and victories of the human race that pass unrecorded by history, and reclaims the significance of an individual life. A reading experience like no other, itself a paean to the power of literature, it is a novel to be savoured.


Reviewed by Hill Head Readers

An excellent book. Well written with characters that were brilliantly drawn. We felt Stoner’s ‘biography’ was very realistic and the group enjoyed the ‘ups and downs’ of his academic career”

star rating ****

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The Magnetic North by Sara Wheeler

About the book

Smashing through the Arctic Ocean with the crew of a Russian icebreaker, herding reindeer across the tundra with Lapps and shadowing the Trans-Alaskan pipeline with truckers, Sara Wheeler discovers a complex and ambiguous land belonging both to ancient myth and modern controversy.  The Magnetic North is a spicy confection of history, science and reflection in which Wheeler meditates on the role of the Arctic: fragmented lands which fed imaginations long before the scientists and oilmen showed up (not to mention desperado explorers who ate their own shoes). The Magnetic North tells of all this, plus gulag ghosts, old and new Russia, colliding cultures and bioaccumulated toxins in polar bears.


Reviewed by Bridewell Beauties

Reads like a series of essays. Very comprehensive and academic. Strongly divided opinions. Could be read on several levels

star rating ** ½


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Ice road by Gillian Slovo

About the book

Leningrad, 1933. Loyalties, beliefs, love: all are about to be tested to the limit in one of the most crushing moments the world will ever know. Watching everything is Irina, who understands that simple loyalty to an individual may well be more powerful than blind loyalty to an idea.

Reviewed by Denmead Reading Circle

Divided opinion led to a lively discussion. Generally more members liked than disliked. Good for learning about Russian history. Individual stories of the characters relieved the overall depressing theme.

Star rating ***

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The Time traveller's guide to Medieval England by Ian Mortimer

About the book

Imagine you could get into a time machine and travel back to the 14th century. This text sets out to explain what life was like in the most immediate way, through taking the reader to the Middle Ages, and showing everything from the horrors of leprosy and war to the ridiculous excesses of roasted larks and haute couture.

Reviewed by North Baddesley WI Group 2

Enjoyable, informative style of writing. We were able to easily extract interesting snippets of knowledge of life in the 14th century.

Star rating: ****

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Burnt shadows by Kamila Shamsie

About the book

In a prison cell in the US, a man stands trembling, naked, fearfully waiting to be shipped to Guantanamo Bay. How did it come to this? Burnt Shadows is an epic narrative of disasters evaded and confronted, loyalties offered and repaid, and loves rewarded and betrayed.

Reviewed by Enjoying Books

This was a novel that encompassed major events in the world’s history – from the Japanese A bombs to modern problems. We enjoyed the first half better but we learnt much about modern history.

Star rating: ***

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A Daughter's tale by Mary Soames

About the book

Born in 1922, Mary Soames is the only surviving child of Winston and Clementine Churchill. Her memoir draws us into the almost surreal world where the ordinary details of family life proceed against a background of cataclysmic events.

Reviewed by CC Readers

This book was enjoyed by all the group. Everyone was captivated by the insight into s warm and loving relationship between Churchill and hiss youngest daughter. We also considered this to have been a valuable and honest historical record of such an important time in our history.

Star rating: ***

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