Monday 25 March 2019

Join Historical Romance author, Anna Campbell, as she takes a look at the dashing and heroic, Matthew Flinders. There is also the chance to win one ebook copy of Dashing Widows. #History #Giveaway #HistoricalRomance @AnnaCampbelloz

Flinders Keepers!
By Anna Campbell

Hi Mary Anne! Hi everyone! I hope you’ll forgive that dreadful pun in the title, but I’m all agog that at the beginning of this year, they discovered the grave of great Australian explorer Matthew Flinders (1774-1814). You can read the amazing story HERE!

Matthew Flinders was a dashing and heroic character, one of the most appealing in the early annals of my nation’s history. A Lincolnshire lad, he joined the navy as a 15-year-old boy, much against his family and friends’ wishes, because he was mad about Robinson Crusoe.

Flinders visited Australia twice, the first time between 1785 and 1800, and the second time between 1801 and 1803. He captained the ship that first circumnavigated Australia; in a rowboat, he and George Bass explored large areas of the NSW coast near Sydney; Flinders and Bass also proved Tasmania was an island by circumnavigating it; he was a brilliant cartographer; and he was the first to suggest calling my native land Australia. On a more personal note, he was the first European to sail into Moreton Bay, upon whose shores I grew up and still live.

All this achievement and excitement came to an abrupt end in 1803. On the voyage back to England, Flinders called in at Mauritius for supplies. This was in the middle of the Napoleonic wars, so the powers that be imprisoned him for six years as a spy, an experience that broke his health.

One of the reasons Aussies remember Mr. Flinders so fondly is that a black and white cat named Trim accompanied him on many of his adventures: “The best and most illustrious of his race, the most affectionate of friends, faithful of servants, and best of creatures. He made the tour of the globe, and a voyage to Australia, which he circumnavigated, and was ever the delight and pleasure of his fellow voyagers.”

Trim is honoured with several statues, including one at the State Library of New South Wales in Sydney, where he receives considerably more visitors than his master does several feet away. The vagaries of fame! In a more recent tribute, Trim sits faithfully at his master’s feet in Mark Richard’s lovely statue at Euston Station (putatively marking the site of the explorer’s grave, as in 2014, the body hadn’t been found) which commemorates the 200th anniversary of Flinders’ death.

Trim's statue by John Cornwell behind Matthew Flinders's own in Sydney, Australia.

As a romance writer, my heart warmed to the fact that Matthew Flinders jeopardised his career by trying to smuggle his new bride on board his ship when he left London to go back to Australia in 1801. Sadly, the ruse didn’t succeed. Sadder still, this was the voyage where he ended up imprisoned. Poor Ann didn’t see her husband for another nine years once he left England.

Even more interesting, I discovered that Matthew Flinders’ grandson is the famous Egyptologist Sir William Matthew Flinders Petrie who was the model for Emmerson in the fantastic Amelia Peabody series by Elizabeth Peters. I’m crazy about those books! Isn’t it interesting how research keeps curving back on itself?

As you can imagine, I’ve long wanted to use Matthew Flinders’ life as the basis for a historical romance. I got that chance in 2017 with my sixth Dashing Widow book, Catching Captain Nash. In my story, Captain Robert Nash returns from years of imprisonment in South America to find his ‘widow’ just about to get engaged to another man. Not the homecoming he’d been dreaming about! Unlike poor Matthew, Robert gets to make a full recovery and embark on a long and happy life with the woman he loves and the daughter he didn’t know he had.

If you haven’t read the Dashing Widows, now is a great time to try the series, because the first book The Seduction of Lord Stone is currently free across all platforms. I’m also giving someone who comments today a chance to win the boxed set of the first six stories, including Catching Captain Nash.

If you’re interested in reading further about Matthew Flinders, Wikipedia is a great start.

Matthew Flinders.
Matthew Flinders Petrie.
Even Trim gets his own Wikipedia entry!

I’m not sure Matthew Flinders is at the top of my list of historical characters I admire, but he’s definitely on it. People used to talk about the early maritime explorers in terms of astronauts heading out to space, but in fact they were much braver than that. The astronauts never lost contact with home. Those early explorers set off into an uncharted ocean and basically fell off the edge of the world (if you’re interested in another fascinating story, look up La Perouse, a French captain who disappeared after sailing from Australia in 1788, and think how close Aussies came to eating croissants and saying zut alors!).

Scroll down for a fabulous giveaway!

The Giveaway is now closed.

Anna Campbell is giving away one ebook copy of the Dashing Widows Boxed Set. 

All you need to do is tell Anna the historical figure you admire most and why. Anna is really interested to see your answers!

Leave your answer in the comments at the bottom of this post.

Giveaway Rules

Leave your answer in the comments at the bottom of this post.

Giveaway ends at 11:59pm BST on April 3rd.
You must be 18 or older to enter.

Giveaway is only open to Internationally.
Only one entry per household.

All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion.

Winners will be announced in the comments.

Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

Catching Captain Nash

Home is the sailor, home from the sea…

Five years after he’s lost off the coast of South America, presumed dead, Captain Robert Nash escapes cruel captivity, and returns to London and the bride he loves, but barely knows. When he stumbles back into the family home, he’s appalled to find himself gate-crashing the party celebrating his wife’s engagement to another man.

No red-blooded naval officer takes a challenge like this lying down; but five years is a long time, and beautiful, passionate Morwenna has clearly found a life without him. Can he win back the wife who gave him a reason to survive his ordeal? Or will the woman who haunts his every thought remain eternally out of reach?

Love lost and found? Or love lost forever?

Since hearing of her beloved husband’s death, Morwenna Nash has been mired in grief. After five grim years without him, she must summon every ounce of courage and determination to become a Dashing Widow and rejoin the social whirl. But she owes it to her young daughter to break free of old sorrow and find a new purpose in life, even if that means accepting a loveless marriage.

It’s like a miracle when Robert returns from the grave, and despite the awkward circumstances of his arrival, she’s overjoyed that her husband has come back to her at last. But after years of suffering, he’s not the handsome, laughing charmer she remembers. Instead he’s a grim shadow of his former dashing self. He can’t hide how much he still wants her—but does passion equal love?

Can Morwenna and Robert bridge the chasm of absence, suffering and mistrust, and find the way back to each other?
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Anna Campbell

Australian Anna Campbell has written 10 multi award-winning historical romances for Grand Central Publishing and Avon HarperCollins, and 21 bestselling independently published romances. Look out for The Highlander’s Lost Lady, the third Lairds Most Likely story, out at the end of April.

Connect with Anna: WebsiteFacebookTwitter.


  1. What a very interesting story. One of my favorite historical figures is George Washington. He was a great leader yet humble in his fame. Thanks for the chance to win.

    1. Michele, what a great choice! I like you love a hero who keeps a hint of modesty!

  2. Honestly, Matthew Flinders is up there, and as an Egyptological enthusiast his connection with Flinders Petrie (and Emerson!) only makes me love him more.

    But with all of history to choose from - Elizabeth I of England, who survived a miserable and dangerous childhood and adolescence and survived as monarch at a time when women were considered unfit to rule. She may have made mistakes - we all do - but she navigated the times as well as she could for her people, and if it wasn't quite the golden age we learnt about in school, it was better than some of her predecessors and successors!

  3. Rachel, I've always had a tremendous admiration for Elizabeth. As you say, circumstances were so against her and she triumphed. I'm so glad you're another MF fan - I think even in Australia he's remarkably under-appreciated, given what he did. When I found the Flinders Petrie connection, it was so cool!

  4. Hi Anna, picking just one figure is hard. I have a lot of 20th century heroines - Anne Frank and Amelia Earhart, especially, for their courage. Straddling the 19th and 20th centuries is Marie Curie (scientist) and then going back to Regency/Victorian times, Ada Lovelace, Lord Byron's daughter and more importantly, a mathematician and the world's first computer programmer. However, since Elizabeth 1 has already been named, I'll split my final vote between Eleanor of Aquitaine and Catherine the Great, two very powerful, politically savvy leaders. Actually, I'll have to give it to Catherine the Great. She overthrew a husband she hated whom the people hated too, established the first school for girls in Russia, and had many, many lovers. An outrageous woman. I adore her!

    1. Laura, what a great selection. I remember seeing a TV doco about 5 years ago about Ada Lovelace and finding it absolutely fascinating. Helena in my Dashing Widows books is a bit of a tribute to her - she ends up corresponding with Charles Babbage about the difference engine. And Catherine the Great is a wonderful choice. Go, the girls!

  5. Hi Anna! So sorry I am late but would love to get into this giveaway! I had my knee replacement surgery this morning so I maybe MIA for a bit! Love your books! ❤️

    1. Kat, ouch to the knee replacement. Hope it all works out well and you're back dancing in the ballet soon! Definitely not too late to enter so good luck!

  6. I've seen the statue of the cat at the NSW Library and never knew the significance! Thanks for the story as it now makes sense! My fav. historical figure at the moment is my husband's 4th great grandfather- Captain Samuel Augustus Perry. He explored and mapped Queensland and did a lot of mapping of Sydney. He did magnificent watercolours of Sydney, Kiama, Domenica and castle ruins in Spain/Portugal. He was part of the contingent who returned the 3 horses of the apocalypse to St. Mark's in Venice after Napoleon was captured. A very interesting character, whom I am continuing to learn about! xo

    1. Wow, that's some relative to have in the family tree! I'm impressed. I used to take breaks down in Kiama from Sydney - lovely spot! If you go inside the library, the gift shop is full of Trim memorabilia. Much more than they've got on MF himself!

  7. I LOVE Henry Percy - Hotspur. What a man!! He was a warrior, fought for what he believed in, and died for his ambition. I find him fascinating, and think that his wife, Elizabeth Mortimer was one very lucky lady!!

    1. Oh, I remember him from Henry IV! Definitely a charismatic character. Great choice. I knew some interesting answer would pop up here when I asked the question.

  8. Thanks to Mary Anne for hosting me and for everyone who swung by to say hello! Stay tuned for the announcement of the winner of the boxed set of Dashing Widows stories. Good luck!

  9. The winner of Dashing Widows is Rachel. Congratulations!


See you on your next coffee break!
Take Care,
Mary Anne xxx