An antidode to literary cardboard cutouts.

The Nevills were a hugely powerful and important family in the middle decades of the 15th century. They saw the Wars of the Roses from both sides (Yorkist and Lancastrian), but mainly from their own. The Nevill men lived and died large and violently. The Nevill women married leading players on both sides. I’m hoping to present a point of view that goes beyond the one-dimensional stereotypes seen in a lot of historical fiction.

I’m also in the process of writing my own book, working title Nevill, that will follow the family through the reigns of four kings, though this isn’t primarily a blog about that. As I find things in my research, I will share them. There will also be the occasional update, tantrum, sulk etc etc etc.

I hope you enjoy.

Karen Clark

  1. Thomas O'Sullivan says:

    Hi! I’m quite impressed by the degree of detail and research you’ve put into this. I’ve been working for the past few years writing my own novel spanning the birth of Henry and Margaret’s Prince Edward to the birth of Henry VIII. It follows the basic omniscient narrator format of Luo Guanzhong’s ‘Romance of the Three Kingdoms’ and will follow the authenticity that Luo Guanzhong’s used, ‘Seven parts fact, three parts fiction.’

    The emphasis will be on each character’s personally driven motivations and it will be my sincere effort to portray each and every character, from John Clifford to Queen Margaret to Richard III, as ultimately sympathetic people… not wholly good and not wholly evil. Warwick, however, is a tough character to write for. Through in the views of his contemparies, his ‘treacherous’ actions were indeed justified, and he had popular support. Yet a modern reader would quickly apply their 21st century morality to his situation and quickly denounce him. He’s a fascinating man, infact… but I sometimes risk allowing him to hijack the whole novel! 😛

    As the whole novel spans a full 38 years and about three generations worth of characters, I find my time being stretched thin to do proper research and devotion to pondering the motivations of all the characters. I’d love to exchange ideas with you about the subject sometime, see things from a different perspective. I don’t exactly come from a place where the War of the Roses is common discussion, so I’m eager to talk to someone who knows more about it than what I tell them. 😉

  2. anevillfeast says:

    Thanks for your comments. Until very recently, I felt extremely isolated, but then I discovered Susan Higginbotham’s Medieval Woman blog and my world just exploded! Firstly, I was inspired to start this, then I found an extremely interesting and likeminded bunch of people on Facebook and at around that time read a perfectly dreadful book purporting to be about John Nevill, which inspired me to pick up the desultory work I’ve done in the past and actually lick it into shape. I like Warwick intensely (as you might have gathered) and have done for decades. The whole family intrigue me. I foresee this project as two, possibly three books – the first covering the time from 1453 to either Tewkesbury or the death of Anne Nevill (depending on how long it gets) and the last one (either 2 or 3) focussing on the Fitzhughs – Warwick’s sister Alice and her family – but not forgetting the Archbishop of York, the Clarences and the Gloucesters.

    The more research I do, the more I realise needs to be done!

    If you’re interested, George Nevill has his own FB page and there’s a group I’m a member of called The History Police full of fascinating people who are variously pleased and irritated by the current state of historical fiction. (If you find George or the HP group, you’ll find me not far away!)

    The portrayals of Warwick by and large in historical fiction are appalling. His wife and children are regularly fashioned out of poor material, likened to ‘pawns’ and his poor daughters are stamped with ‘doomed’ from the get go. I think there’s a lot more to these women than most people realise. The Nevill women as a whole are a fierce bunch!


  3. Aunt Annie says:

    I am into genealogy and have working on the Fitzhugh family. I’m related through a de Parrs, Salisburys, Jourdaines, Coggan, Merrit line from England >Virginia > Tennessee > Arkansas.
    My husband and our son-in-law both descend from a Neville line in Virginia.
    I’ll be looking forward to your book about the Neville/Fitzhugh family.

  4. anevillfeast says:

    Thank you, Aunt Annie!

    I’ve developed quite a strong affection for Henry Fitzhugh – stupid I know when he’s been dead for centuries and I have no way of knowing what he was actually like! That goes for the Nevills as well, I suppose!

  5. Hi Karen, thanks for your wonderful comment today on my site and for this treasure trove of detail. It makes me want to get a large poster sized sheet of paper and start drawing and scribbling. I look forward to the publication of your book, when it arrives. Meanwhile I have subscribed and will be coming back regularly to take a look….I suppose you don’t tweet? I keep in touch with several historical characters by subscribing to their ‘on this day’ stream….

    • anevillfeast says:

      Hi Kate! And welcome to the Feast. I don’t tweet, no. Just haven’t got around to working it all out just yet. I do facebook (and so does his Grace, the archbishop!)

      Things have been a bit quiet over here in the last little while (except for my On This Days), as I’m working on a different project at the moment. Will be back in the 15th century shortly.

  6. Gareth says:

    Many years ago I completed a project on Warwick, which involved visiting and photographing as many sites I could that had a Warwick connection, even obscure places like Millom. I added my own take on Warwick history, as I felt the story should be told, at that time.
    It is still on the web under http://www.warwick-the-kingmaker.co.uk feel free to look around – it is a very old project and parts such as the contact no longer work. I will be taking it down very soon as it was just an experimental piece of work – I may revisit it and remix, at later date.

    Good luck with your project it is a big – but interesting – piece of work you are taking on.


    • anevillfeast says:

      Thank for this link, Gareth. The black print on red was rather hard on my eyes, so I’ve printed it and will take a good look at it. The pictures are wonderful – I live rather a long way from all these places and it’s great to be able to see so may.

      Thanks for your comment. It *is* a big project, but now I’ve chopped it into more manageable pieces I feel that I’m starting to make some headway.


  7. scrivenerak says:

    Hello and hope this finds you well! Susan Higginbotham just showed me this site and I am pleased to write that it has quickly been added to my faves. I love to read (and hope one day to write) about the Middle Ages (particularly the 15th century), but I want to read about the people who populated them, as much as I can, on the terms they lived and not just the easily passed down “facts.” I love it when writers can give the people back their dignity, which doesn’t always mean telling the most flattering details as often as possible, but rather, restoring to them their realness, and to bring to people the awareness that these people–our ancestors–had the range of emotions and events in their lives as do we.

    I am looking forward to getting to know this blog better and reading your posts (and books) in the future.

    Well done! ~~Lisl

    • anevillfeast says:

      Hi, Lisl, and welcome! This blog really is a work in progress – I’ve been blogging as I’ve been researching, which is tremendous fun. I must thank Susan for sending you my way. I think it’s important for a writer to tell the story as it unfolds, rather than writing to a preconceived idea. Primary sources, and it’s surprising just how much is on the web, can provide little hints into people’s personalities, but making them real isn’t always easy! I’m hoping i can pull it off.


  8. Gareth says:

    Hi, good to see your project is progressing. In between other photo projects I thought it would be interesting go back and reshoot some of the snaps from the my original WTK project. Three new photographs can be found on a new web page http://www.warwickthekingmaker.co.uk Just another 40 photographs to reshoot then!

    Best wishes,


  9. Paul Earl Smith says:

    Hello Karen,

    I have enjoyed your blog very much! Have you given any thought to including in your book the perspective of the Neville’s, De Basset, De Forest, Spencer’s and other Plantagenets that came to the Colonies? We seem to get overlooked by most British historians and authors. Might be some surprising revelations to discover. England had become a very unfriendly place for us. The new world offered a new beginning for hopeless English families.

    Best Regards,

    Paul Earl Smith

    • anevillfeast says:

      Hi, Paul. Thanks for your kind comments! Sadly, I don’t have the time to expand my research.While trying (and failing) to clear up a mystery in my own family tree (a great-grandfather who went to America and disappeared), I found any attempt to search US records to be rather daunting! I don’t think it’s something I can take on in the foreseeable future.

  10. Paul Earl Smith says:


    Understood! What was your Gr Grandathers name? I have been trying to get back to a project for 5 yrs now – documenting 12 generations on this side of the pond. Are the Neville’s a personal connection or just an intense interest? They are a part of us here so I do feel an intimate relationship with them. William Smyth mentioned in Josephine Tey’s fictional book as the messenger fully charged to convey the concerns of Richard’s older brothers back home during their training at Middleham Castle (letter from Cotton family manuscripts) is an interesting coincidence to my 13th Gr Grandfather William De Heriz-Smith who married Katherine Ashby in 1492 (someone of absolutely no historical record) one year after the death of Lord Herbert the Earl of Huntington. My earliest New England couple the Rev Henry Smith and Dorothy Cotton showed up here in New England a short time after King Charles I seized the Library of the Rev John Cotton in 1628. I’m not saying Katherine Ashby is or isn’t, but she could be Katherine Plantagenet (illegitimate daughter of Richard III). I have spent 35 years looking for proof that “she is not the daughter of Richard III” without success.
    We frequently exhibit Scoliosis and Brackydactyly thumbs and fingers. This is a Plague. Hopefully Richards genome will shed some light on this for everyone. I’m very happy about that and look forward to the truth. What ever that is!

    Kindest Regards,

    Paul Earl Smith

    • anevillfeast says:

      Hi Paul. My great grandfather was last heard of in Derry, Pennsylvania, where we still have a family connection (through his brother). They can shed no light on matters at all, sadly!
      I have no known family connection to the Nevills, though I’m not sure I’d say it was ‘just’ an intense interest. 😀 I have, so far as I know, no illustrious ancestors whatsoever and am in no need of them. The ones I’ve found were hardworking folk and that is achievement enough!
      As to your Katherine Ashby – it’s almost impossible to prove a negative. Good luck with your search!

  11. btlman says:

    Hi there, I just discovered your Page/Posts. Absolutely fascinating. I discovered this looking for information about the Fitzhugh family of Virginia, and lo and behold I find details about the Nevills, another part of my family history. I also discovered stuff about Thomas Cromwell, and yes, another part of my family history. There is nothing on television in Australia so I am going to spend my time on these pages instead. Well done.

    • anevillfeast says:

      HI bitman, and welcome to the Feast! I’ve come across conflicting reports re the Fitzhughs of Virginia – some say there’s a connection and other that there isn’t. It’s not something I’ve looked into – I just don’t have the time!
      If you’ve got cable, there’s a program about the Plantagenets starting on Wednesday night on the History channel. Might be worth having a look!

  12. I very much enjoyed your blog, A Nevill Feast. I am working on a history book-blog of my own, which can be seen at [one word] theoryofirony.com, then clicking on either the “sample chapter” or “blog” buttons at the top. My Rube Goldberg brain asks with an odd, well-caffeinated kind of logic: Why is there an inverse proportion between the size of the print and the importance of the message? Literature. Art. Science. Military. Religion. I call this eccentric thinking the Theory of Irony and if your busy schedule permits, give a read, leave a comment or create a link. In any event, best of luck with your own endeavors.

    P.S. It deals with Classical, Medieval and Modern eras.

  13. Oh gosh, SO glad to have found this blog and your book. I did my master’s thesis on the Kingmaker (and undergrad on Richard III). Greetings, fellow medieval junkies!

  14. LM Harris says:

    So pleased to have found your blog (via The Nevills of Middleham). Am also a Nevill addict. Wrote my MRes thesis on Margaret Nevill (the wayward daughter of John Montagu). What a mixed up lady, in modern terms had something of a personality disorder. Some fascinating stuff emerged regarding her relationship with Charles Brandon, his ‘asset stripping’ exercise, and especially their very dodgy divorce (and sadly outside scope of thesis, but maybe I’ll write something up one day). BTW, Burford (above) was one of the manors that Margaret inherited (Deed of Partition, Cumbria Record Office D HUD 8/89) though apparently ended up in the hands of Henry VII ‘by the death of Anne Countess of Warwick’ according to R.H. Gretton: The Burford Records. Not at all sure how that worked.

  15. Barbara Chivers says:

    I am one of the many Neville descendants from Margaret Neville, Richard Neville’s illegitimate daughter, through her youngest daughter, Joan Huddleston. I have just read Amy Licence’s book on Anne Neville and am currently reading the one written by Philippa Gregory. They fascinate me and visiting their former homes can be quite moving, although Warwick castle is too much of a theme park.

  16. LeeTas says:

    I’m just wondering if there is a family tree that anyone can point me to for the Neville’s and Stanhopes discussed in this blog (esp Stanhopes as they connect to my family tree). I find the discussion fascinating, but would find it easier if I could place the characters in context in a family tree.

    • anevillfeast says:

      Hi LeeTas. I’m so sorry it’s taken me so long to respond. I’m taking a break from the blog since completing my research and the book. I’m not sure I can help with a genealogy of the Stanhopes, though. I’m sorry about that.

  17. Lisa Brock says:

    I love history! I ran across these posts on the Nevilles and started reading. When Richard III was dung up in a parking lot, they started running DNA matches on people that had done DNA tests. He came up as a match for me through the Nevilles in my line. I must say I always thought the Duke of
    Buckingham murdered the Princes. My research when I was a member of the Richard III Society led me to this conclusion. He had a claim to the throne himself, or he could had killed them on the belief that Richard did want them dead, and would perhaps reward him if he did away with them. Richard had Buckingham executed on his nephew Edward’s birthday. I think this sends a very clear message that anyone can hear.

    • Barbara Chivers says:

      How did they link up with you Lisa. I think I am also descended from the Nevilles but have not been able to prove it yet through DNA?

  18. Carl Nelson says:

    Hi Karen, Loving the new book. When I last looked at your site, the Nevill’s were just a family of interest as they had touched the lives of some of my family lines. Much research since then & I have discovered I have direct Nevill heritage to a ridiculous degree, all quite a surprise. I think the most recent amongst my many lines is Katherine (m. William Hastings) and her sister Eleanor (m. Thomas Stanley). Others connected via married names such as Percy’s, Hungerfords, etc. I admit I had them pegged as the villains (as I have some Woodville et al, still not at all keen on Uncle Warwick) but I now have to reassess, paying due respect to newfound family bias, so your Middleham book is very timely. The research & effort is hugely appreciated.

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