Writing Alfred of Wessex

I grew up in Bradford on Avon in Wiltshire, with a view across towards the Westbury White Horse above one of the great battlefields of Alfred’s time, and I now live in Dorset, both in the heartland of Wessex.

With a longstanding interest in Anglo-Saxon history and archaeology, a degree in Political Science and three published books so far, I seem to have been preparing my Alfred of Wessex series for a number of years.

In my teenage years I took part in archaeological digs in southern England, and since then I have always read widely on historical subjects.

In thinking about writing a novel of Alfred the Great’s life, I read as much as I could of the sources and of historian’s views. I was struck by one particular quote, “It would be dangerous in the extreme to assume from the silence of our narrative sources that Alfred’s reign was so extraordinary as to contain no rebellion or intrigue of any kind (indeed, a charter provides evidence for the rebellion of one ealdorman).” (The Anglo-Saxon State, James Campbell.)

So where was the story of the intrigues alongside the battles against the Danes? Perhaps a novel could fill in the gaps, while using the known history as pillars.

I began writing in 2004-5, but the novel was laid aside while my day job took precedence, alongside other writing projects.

I had developed an interest in cycling as well as writing. These, combined with my historical knowledge and a quirky sense of humour, developed into three cycling travelogue books:

  • The Full English: Pedalling through England, Mid-Life Crisis and Truly Rampant Man-Flu
  • A Bit Scott-ish: Pedalling through Scotland in Search of Adventure, Nature and Lemon Drizzle Cake
  • A Lake District Grand Tour: Pedalling through Lakeland. The Challenge, The History, The Wildlife, The Scones

I picked up the Alfred project again in 2020. With more research of newer sources and with a great deal of editing and re-editing, the first book of a trilogy was ready for 2022.

That is how Yours is a Dangerous Inheritance was born.

Mike Carden