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Exile Anthology: Annie Whitehead

meet the authors and read snippets from Historical Stories of Exile

Historical Stories of Exile

Join me for a series of spotlights from a collection of short stories by thirteen award-winning authors:

Annie Whitehead, J.G. Harlond, Helen Hollick, Anna Belfrage, Elizabeth Chadwick, Loretta Livingstone, Elizabeth St.John, Alison Morton, Charlene Newcomb, Marian L Thorpe, Amy Maroney, Cathie Dunn, Cryssa Bazos. With an introduction by Deborah Swift

Exile: a risky defiance, a perilous journey, a family’s tragic choice – or an individual’s final gamble to live. Exile: voluntary or enforced, a falling-out between friends, a lost first love, a prejudiced betrayal – or the only way to survive persecution?

In this historical fiction anthology thirteen authors (they are not superstitious!) have written exclusive short stories on the theme of exile. Some are based on true history, others are speculative fiction. All mine the depths of human emotions – fear, hope, love, and the fortitude to survive.


Author Annie Whitehead

and her story:


(Tread The Path of Exile)

A story about Ealdgyth, wife to Gruffudd of Wales and the woman who became the wife to King Harold II in 1066…


The early morning September mist hung low over the river. The grass beneath the horses’ feet was pebbled with dew and the sun had begun its climb, promising to burn away the low clouds and offering the prospect of a bright day. It seemed irreligious to be sad on such a beautiful morning. Ealdgyth shivered, pulled her cloak a little tighter over her shoulders, and fought the urge to turn her horse and run away. Behind her, where the rising eastern sun would surely obscure the view, was the only land she’d ever known, but she needed no blinding morning rays to tell her that her home was already long out of sight…

read the full story in HISTORICAL STORIES of  EXILE


The named characters in this story were all real historical people with the exception of Rhodri and all the events mentioned really happened. The dialogue and motivation are my own ideas, of course. No one knows what happened to Ealdgyth after she got to Chester, but anything’s possible, and my research into her fate is ongoing. Because Gruffudd was, unusually, styled king of Wales and not prince, Ealdgyth holds the unique record of having been queen of Wales AND England.

Ealdgyth and her family also feature in my story for the anthology 1066 Turned Upside Down, and all of my books, fiction and nonfiction, feature Mercians and/or the fascinating women of the Anglo-Saxon era, including my novel about Æthelflæd, Lady of the Mercians To Be A Queen.


Annie Whitehead is an author, historian, and elected Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, and has written four award-winning novels set in Anglo-Saxon England. She has contributed to fiction and nonfiction anthologies and written for various magazines, has twice been a prize winner in the Mail on Sunday Novel Writing Competition, and won First Prize in the 2012 New Writer Magazine’s Prose and Poetry Competition. She was a finalist in the 2015 Tom Howard

Prize for Nonfiction and was shortlisted for the Exeter Story Prize/Trisha Ashley Award 2021.

She was the winner of the inaugural Historical Writers’ Association/Dorothy Dunnett Prize 2017 and is now a judge for that same competition. She has also been a judge for the HNS (Historical Novel Society) Short Story Competition.

Her nonfiction books are Mercia: The Rise and Fall of a Kingdom (Amberley Books) and Women of Power in Anglo-Saxon England (Pen & Sword). She has contributed to a new history of English Monarchs, Kings and Queens: 1200 Years of English and British Monarchs (Hodder & Stoughton) and has signed a contract to write her third nonfiction book, to be published by Amberley books in 2024.

“Annie Whitehead gets the balance of research and story exactly right. And what a story she tells!” Glynn Young, author, reviewer and book blogger.


Buy Annie’s books on Amazon:

(Also available from other online stores or order from any bookshop.)

One family, two kingdoms, one common enemy …

This is the true story of Aethelflaed, the ‘Lady of the Mercians’, daughter of Alfred the Great. She was the only female leader of an Anglo-Saxon kingdom.

Born into the royal house of Wessex at the height of the Viking wars, she is sent to her aunt in Mercia as a foster-child, only to return home when the Vikings overrun Mercia. In Wessex, she witnesses another Viking attack and this compounds her fear of the enemy.

She falls in love with a Mercian lord but is heartbroken to be given as bride to the ruler of Mercia to seal the alliance between the two Anglo-Saxon kingdoms.

She must learn to subjugate her feelings for her first love, overcome her indifference to her husband and win the hearts of the Mercians who despise her as a foreigner and twice make an attempt on her life.

When her husband falls ill and is incapacitated, she has to learn to rule and lead an army in his stead. Eventually she must fight to save her adopted Mercia from the Vikings and, ultimately, her own brother. To Be A Queen was Long-listed for HNSIndie Book of the Year 2016 and has been awarded an indie BRAG Gold Medallion.

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