We are back with another post in our interview series, and I am very excited to be talking today with Rebecca Larson. Rebecca is the owner of Tudors Dynasty, a fantastic historical website and podcast. Tens of thousands of listeners tune in every week to listen to Rebecca’s podcast, and she is currently working on publishing her first non-fiction history book. Do check out her website and podcast, and you can also find her on Twitter and Facebook!
Thank you for speaking to us today! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself – how did you first get interested in history?
My fascination with history began as a child with my own family history. From a young age I became obsessed with learning more about my father’s side of the family. We had this family history book that an older cousin had put together on a specific branch of the family. I spent hours upon hours looking through that book – reading old newspaper articles and obsessing over the places my ancestors had lived. But, my love for the Plantagenets and the Tudors didn’t happen until I was pregnant with my daughter in the early 2000s. I wanted her to know her family history and I began to do some digging on my own. Through my research I discovered a connection to Henry VIII’s sister Margaret. I was hooked and began reading Jean Plaidy books provided to me by a co-worker at the time. Eventually, the Tudors premiered on Showtime and I was fascinated to learn more about this family I believed I was related to. Unfortunately, I discovered not long after that I was not related to the Tudors and that I had made a mistake in my family tree research. Even though I was saddened by the discovery it was too late – I was already hooked!
I slowly began to move away from historical fiction into nonfiction….and the rest is, well, history.
You started your blog, Tudors Dynasty, in 2015. What inspired you to start it, and did you find it difficult?
Every morning I would open my Facebook feed and see posts about things that had happened on that day in Tudor history. It became the highlight of my day to learn about these figures I had never heard of before. As with my family history, I wanted to know more. During all of this my husband encouraged me to start my own blog, but I was not comfortable writing and kept making excuses. So, instead, I created a Paper.li account that allowed me to essentially create my own Tudor magazine. It was fear that was holding me back. Eventually he convinced me to start my own blog and encouraged me to keep at it. I still insisted that I was not a good writer, yet he reminded me that the more I did it the better I would get. He was right! Here we are, six years later and I am writing a book! I have since been taught palaeography and understand the importance of a good primary source versus using only secondary sources. I’ve stopped allowing fear to control and instead have walked toward it.
You then went on to start a podcast which has grown to have a huge audience. What is the hardest thing about running a podcast – and what is your favourite thing?
I honestly never imagined doing a podcast, but always had an interest in being on the radio, so this became an opportunity to live out that dream. The hardest thing about running a podcast is all the time and research that go into each episode – especially when you’re already writing and researching blog articles or a book. It’s very time consuming and sometimes difficult to find the balance in life. This is still something I struggle with to this day, but also the reason I began taking off a few months in the Summer – not only to recharge my batteries, but to spend more time with my family.
My favourite thing about the podcast is that I get to talk to so many amazing people! Never in my wildest dreams would 2015 Rebecca believe I would have the opportunity to interview the likes of Dan Jones, Suzannah Lipscomb, Tracy Borman, Alison Weir, Margaret George and oh, so many others that I looked up to. I still pinch myself about it. I’ve also had the opportunity to connect with so many like minded people, and get to chat with many amazing authors as well. I’ve made so many wonderful friendships because of the podcast. I feel very honoured and blessed to have the support I have, from my family to my fans and of course my wonderful patrons on Patreon.
Adding Steph Stohrer to the show as a host has made the biggest impact. With her help, and the help of many historians, authors and PhD students, this season of the podcast has allowed me to break into the Top 100 History podcasts in the world. I feel so blessed.
Do you have any tips for someone who might want to start their own historical podcast?
Tips? Hmmm…. Be prepared to make mistakes! Most podcasters aren’t fantastic from the start. It takes time to hone your craft. Don’t be afraid to make changes either. I’ve changed my format several times since February 2017, and each time those changes were well received. Be yourself. Don’t be afraid to let your listeners learn about you – that human connection makes all the difference.
Do you have a particular Tudor figure that you find yourself drawn to? If so, why?
Yes, of course! This will come as no surprise to most reading this, but Thomas Seymour is the figure I am most drawn to. When I first became interested in him it was because I was curious about how this man who was brother to a queen consort, uncle to a king, and husband of a dowager queen could be executed. I made it my mission to understand who he was and why he made the choices he did.
Thomas doesn’t have a very good reputation, do you think this reputation is justified?
I believe there are bits of his reputation that are justified – but many more that are not. He was a man of his time – ambitious and sometimes greedy, but I might argue that in this case he had the right to be greedy. There is so much about his story that has not been told. His reputation and the “awful” things he did have merely been repeated over centuries, with few historians willing to look into him further. I’ve discovered a very loyal servant to the king, a man whom I believe loved Kateryn Parr (and their daughter), who got mixed up in court politics. There were those who saw him as a threat, and that is why he had to be executed. I’ll go more into the reasons I’ve discovered in my upcoming book on his life and downfall. I’m hoping to publish by the end of 2022.
Why do you think people care so deeply about people who lived long ago? This seems particularly so with the Tudors, with people having a favourite wife or hating a particular figure from the period. It brings out a lot of emotion in people!
For me, it was the drama and intrigue of the time. The Tudors were like a modern day soap opera, but they were real people. Look no further than Henry VIII and his six wives and you’ll discover some amazing stories of people who likely never would have imagined that we would still be talking about them today.
They were definitely a dramatic dynasty! Do you have anything else in the works that we can look forwards to?
Always! Haha. I’m also doing research on a book called The Other Seymours and another one that focuses on a specific year in history. I’m not sure what the future holds for the podcast, but I’d like to (someday) begin a new podcast called History Lair. I already have a website I started during the pandemic by that name, but I’d love to be able to branch much further into history and see what I can learn.
A huge thank you to Rebecca for speaking to us today. It has been so interesting to gain an insight into running such a successful podcast and hearing her passion for the Tudor period. Please do check out her podcast and website, and keep an eye out for her book on Thomas Seymour next year!
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