If you’re anywhere near Surrey, come along to the beautiful Royal Holloway College on Monday the 14th at 5pm to help launch The Mighty Healer: Thomas Holloway’s Victorian Patent Medicine Empire in Crosslands bar.

I might even divulge the secret pill recipe…

And if you haven’t got your copy yet, Pen & Sword are giving away three copies over on Goodreads. It’s free to enter, and open to entrants anywhere in the world.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Mighty Healer by Verity Holloway

The Mighty Healer

by Verity Holloway

Giveaway ends November 24, 2016.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

Outings: MCM London ComicCon & Holloway College

Hello. Long time no post.

I’ll be on a panel at MCM London ComicCon tomorrow – Saturday the 29th – talking about horror and dark fantasy with Jason Arnopp and Alison Littlewood. We’ll be on the Silver stage at 12pm. I’ll then be on the SolarStorm podcast talking about my upcoming novel Pseudotooth. After that, I’ll be knee deep in Star Wars merch, so say come and say hello while you can.
londonCOMICOnly a few more days until the general release of The Mighty Healer. All being well, there’ll be a launch evening at Holloway College itself on the 14th of November, where I’ll be signing books and lurking at the bar. More details as they’re finalised.


An 1870s Christmas

IMG_5042It’s the weekend before the first Sunday of advent, traditionally the time to whip up your Christmas cakes and puddings so they have time to mature (i.e. get sufficiently saturated in alcohol you’ll be comatose until Twelfth Night). In Britain, we make heavy fruitcakes with chopped almonds and candied citrus fruit peel, as well as puddings with a tarry consistency that we like to set on fire. The recipes haven’t changed hugely since the nineteenth century, though we no longer put pennies or tiny dolls in our puddings because, well, death.

In my research for The Mighty Healer, I got my hands on a gorgeous little household almanac from 1870s Philadelphia. These flimsy books were printed to advertise patent medicines, with calendars, joke pages, and bits of first aid advice inside, so you’d keep it handy and suck up the advertising by osmosis.


They also contained recipes. Some…more appealing than others. Here are some of the Christmas ones. Try them at your discretion/peril.

IMG_5059I’m not sure I can applaud the juxtaposition of beef suet with vermifuge purgative, but the Victorians did invent Christmas, so who am I to judge…

Next up is a more American dish, pumpkin pudding. Just the thing for the pangs of neuralgia.


And finally we have Nun’s Butter and Wine Sauce preceded by Hoofland’s German Bitters, which were good for the appetite, apparently, what with being 25% alcohol.


ADD AS MUCH WINE AS IT CAN TAKE. Nun’s Butter sounds like the brandy butter we put on mince pies to make them palatable. It can also be used as an icing to rescue dry cakes. Trying to dig up the origin of the name, I came across French puff pastries called Nun’s Farts. So there you go. Butter up a Nun’s Fart.



Skint historian in ‘pleads for your help with prohibitive copyright expenses’ shocker

I’ve created a GoFundMe campaign. Here’s why.


My cousin Thomas Holloway was one of the richest self-made men in Victorian Britain. From a humble Cornish childhood in a notorious smugglers’ pub, Thomas built a patent medicine empire known as far away as the pyramids in Giza. He went on to build Holloway College in Surrey and the Holloway Sanatorium for the insane, and amassed a record breaking public collection of Victorian art. Not bad for a man who once languished in debtors’ gaol.

I’m writing The Mighty Healer, a book on Thomas’ life, due for publication by Pen & Sword in 2016. The book looks at the shocking quack medicine trade of the nineteenth century, the fight for women’s education, and the treatment of the mentally ill. It charts Thomas’ spats with Charles Dickens and William Makepeace Thackeray, the inevitable family squabbles over money, and the great legacy he left Britain.

Unfortunately, none of Thomas’ immense fortune trickled down to me. Buying permission to print pictures is an expensive business, and as I have a disabling connective tissue disorder, I don’t currently have a day-job to fund my writing. I need some help. I have sourced a few images royalty free, but three that I can’t do without – including the cover image ­– are in an archive and need paying for. It would mean a lot to me, and to my future readers, if you could help make The Mighty Healer as visually arresting as possible.

There are small rewards to be had, including an acknowledgement in the completed book.

The Mighty Healer: Thomas Holloway’s Victorian Patent Medicine Empire

2015 is off to a busy start. I’m very pleased to say I’ve been commissioned by Pen & Sword to write a book on Thomas Holloway, my Victorian ancestor, who made his fortune with patented pills and ointments.

It’s due for publication in 2016, so I’ll be spending most of this year poring over material like this…