My hero was always going to be a scribe.  They spent months working on a single book, often in very uncomfortable surroundings, but dedicated to making such beautiful work.  A chance news item in The Atlantic sparked off some more ideas:

‘Why a Medieval Woman Had Lapis Lazuli Hidden in Her Teeth’

Why not have a female scribe working in the monastery?  Although we have the idea that gender roles were fixed during the past, there was often a degree of practical flexibility, especially where there could be cost savings.

At the time of the book, the printing revolution was well underway but it didn’t kill off hand scribed manuscripts immediately.  Printed books tried to look like they were made by hand, to seem familiar and also more costly.  Just as e-books haven’t killed off paper books, the two technologies overlapped for some time.

I wanted to know more about what Linnet (my scribe) would have been using, so I started researching inks. has a wide range of traditional materials and I am working on producing my own iron oak gall ink  – with mixed results!  

I’m also very grateful to the British Library for their courses and resources on manuscripts and writing, and intend to keep researching this fascinating area further as I continue to write more of Linnet’s stories.