The Janna Mysteries are set in the 1140s. They follow the quest of a young girl, a healer, to find her unknown father and seek justice for the death of her mother. Along the way she solves various crimes and mysteries, including the truth of her own identity. These are some of the resources I’m using for my research:

Fiction set during the time of the civil war between Stephen and Matilda (Maude):

  • When Christ and His Saints Slept – Sharon Penman
  • The Pillars of the Earth – Ken Follett
  • The Chronicles of Brother Cadfael – Ellis Peters
  • Chronicles: Gesta Stephani, William of Malmesbury, Henry of Huntingdon, the Anglo Saxon Chronicle.


  • The Empress Matilda – Marjorie Chibnall
  • King Stephen – R.H.C. Davis
  • Empress Matilda – Nesta Pain


  • English Society in the Early Middle Ages – Doris Mary Stenton
  • The Penguin Book of the Middle Ages – Morris Bishop
  • From Domesday Book to Magna Carta 1087-1216 – A.L. Poole
  • What Life was Like in the Age of Chivalry – Time Life Books
  • Medieval Women – Eileen Power
  • Assorted guidebooks, pamphlets etc from the sites eg Wolvesey Palace & the Hospital of St Cross plus maps of m/e Winchester, Sarum, Wilton and Oxford
  • Photocopies from the Victoria County Histories – an invaluable series
  • The Domesday Book – Thomas Hinde (ed.)

Writers’ aids, including:

  • See Through History / The Middle Ages – Sarah Howarth
  • I Was There series / Medieval Towns – John D. Clare
  • Illustrated guides on medieval life – pictures are a great source of information
  • Medieval Rural Life in the Luttrell Psalter – Janet Blackhouse (with illustrations)
  • The Medieval Church in Manuscripts – Justin Clegg (with illustrations)
  • The Writer’s Guide to Everyday Life in the Middle Ages – Sherrilyn Kenyon
  • A History of Everyday Things in England – Marjorie & C.H.B. Quennell
  • The Year 1000 – Robert Lacey & Danny Danziger
  • Historical Costumes of England 1066-1956 – N. Bradfield
  • The Evolution of the English Farm – M.E. Seebohm
  • Road Atlas of Britain + Ordnance Survey Maps

Guides to the birds, trees, wildflowers and animals of Great Britain
Culpeper’s Complete Herbal, Gerard’s Herbal, Hildegard of Bingen’s Medicine, Anglo-Saxon Leechcraft, Brother Cadfael’s Herb Garden (Rob Talbot & Robin Whiteman)

NB Some of the above are out of print but may be available through 2nd-hand bookshops, libraries or The internet (Google) is a great resource for research – but nothing can take the place of actually going to the site you’re writing about.

Download and read the Random House reading guides.