If You Like….

Remember, remember the 5th of November/ Gunpowder, treason and plot;/ I see no reason why gunpowder treason/ Should ever be forgot….

It’s been 407 years since the Gunpowder Plot was discovered and no one, after years of scholarly wrangling, is entirely sure what happened. Who sent that mysterious warning note? Was the plot really a fabrication, an invention of the cunning mind of Robert Cecil? And after all these years, why does it still have the power to catch our imaginations?

I wanted to do an “if you like” about books related to the Gunpowder Plot, but all I could think of was:

— Antonia Fraser’s Faith & Treason: The Story of the Gunpowder Plot and Mark Nicholls’s Investigating Gunpowder Plot, both excellent and highly readable accounts of the complexities of the plot and the various actors involved;

— and, of course, that modern cinematic offshoot, V for Vendetta.

— LATE ADDITION: Chanpreet tells me that the latest in Susan Carroll’s Dark Queen series, The Lady of Secrets, is set around the Gunpowder Plot. It comes out December 11th.

Can you think of any good novels or nonfiction set around the Gunpowder Plot?

[A quick addendum from the author: In the plotting stage, The Seduction of the Crimson Rose was originally Gunpowder Plot inspired. I spent a ridiculous amount of time trying to map out the cellars of the Parliament buildings (the old ones) and the buildings nearby. In the end, however, the plot took a different turn, and my villain wound up blowing up something else instead.

As my villain puts it, “I had planned to blow up Parliament, in a tribute to Guy Fawkes, but when this opportunity arose, it seemed too good to pass by. Ever since the Gunpowder Plot, they do have an inconvenient habit of inspecting the cellars before the King gives his speech.”

“Very inconsiderate of them,” agreed Mary sarcastically.]


  1. Jessica @ Quirky Bookworm on November 5, 2012 at 10:25 am

    I can’t think of any others. But now I’m going to have “Remember, remember, the 5th of November” stuck in my head all day!

    I liked V for Vendetta the movie, much better than V for Vendetta the graphic novel, which my husband thinks is sacrilege. Oh well.

  2. Alexa J on November 5, 2012 at 1:00 pm

    Equivocation is a fantastic play about the Gunpowder Plot, William Shakespeare, and telling the truth in difficult times.

  3. Lauren on November 5, 2012 at 2:11 pm

    Jessica, my work here is done. Evil chuckle….

  4. Abby on November 5, 2012 at 10:44 pm

    I am a History professor and about a month ago, the secretary for the Dean of the college called my department chair to schedule a faculty meeting with the Dean for November 5. Oh, said my department chair, “Remember, remember, the fifth of November. Gunpowder, treason and plot.” There was a long silence on the other end of the phone line and my chair then had to explain that no, we were not planning to overthrow anyone. Not yet anyway.

    It’s not the Gunpowder plot but Joan Aiken’s Wolves of Willoughby Chase series has a later book (Dido and Pa, I think) which has a similar plot line intended to parody what is known of the original plan.

  5. Nessa on November 6, 2012 at 2:46 pm

    In Edith Nesbit’s classic “The House of Arden” Edred and Elfrida travel back in time to 1605 and encounter the Gunpowdwer plot.

  6. Lisa on November 9, 2012 at 8:19 pm

    Gunpowder Plot, the 15th book in the Daisy Dalrymple series by Carola Dunn, centers around a Guy Fawkes celebration. The entire series is very enjoyable.

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