Thursday, 28 March 2013

The Ides of March, 44 BC, Rome.

Dearest Mother,

I do not  know if this message will reach you but Cleopatra has told me to write to you with the news. Today at the Senate, Julius Caesar was brutally murdered  and the city is in turmoil and confusion. The Queen is weeping and has disappeared into her bedchamber and closed the door. You told me once that she loved Julius Caesar when she was very young and I see this must be true. I miss Egypt, even though Rome is very splendid. There are statues everywhere and the food, though strange, is very tasty. Still, I miss our country and the wide river Nile. The Tiber is very different. I wish I had brought my old comfortable sandals with me. The Queen goes about the city and I go with her and the straps of my best sandals sometimes chafe between my toes. It's not yet very hot...not like at home, but still I am eager to be back. When I get home, the first thing I will do is greet my  beloved cats and stroke them for as long as I can.  I hope you are looking after them. They like to be brushed, too. They are as careful of their appearance as Cleopatra herself!

I send you fond love from Rome. No one knows what will become of this place now that Caesar is dead.

Your daughter,


Adelle Geras was born in Jerusalem. She has written more than 95 books for children, young adults, and adults. Her best-known books are Troy (shortlisted for the Whitbread Prize and Highly commended for the Carnegie Medal) Ithaka, Happy Ever After (previously published as the Egerton Hall Trilogy), Silent Snow, Secret Snow, and A Thousand Yards of Sea. Her novels for adults are: Facing the Light, Hester's Story, Made in Heaven, and A Hidden Life.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Postcards from the Past - From Vinci to Leonardo

5th December 1512

Dear Thomas,
A time-traveller from the 21st century has visited to tell me of the marvels of the age you live in. I am so excited to know that my ideas about flying machines really do work and are used by quite ordinary people. He also told me about the Olympic Games in London and described to me the engineering you did to make a cauldron for the Olympic Flame. Indeed, he carried a little device full of moving pictures which showed me what you had made. I just wanted to let you know how much I admired it. It is a thing both beautiful and functional. You don't need any advice from me but I'm an old man of sixty now and have learned a thing or two about inventions so I'm going to give you some -  Always finish what you start. I didn't always do that and I regret it now. Good luck!

Your friend,


Mary Hoffman was born in Hampshire and studied English Literature at Cambridge University. She has been a freelance, self-employed professional writer and journalist since the mid-90s. She was nominated for the post of Children's Laureate, 2011–2013. In total, she has written over 90 books, and now concentrates on longer books for teens, including the Stravaganza series and a new thread of historical novels.