Interview with Author Marianne Ratcliffe

Welcome Readers to another installment of our author interview series. Today we have the pleasure of chatting with Marianne Ratcliffe, author of two sapphic historical romance novels.

JMR-Welcome to the Books Delight, Marianne. Tell our readers where you live, what you do for fun and what does the perfect day look like?

MR- I live in Chesire with my wife and three dogs (two Cavalier King Charles spaniels and a black labrador we’ve inherited because my wife’s mum can no longer look after him). A perfect day would be taking the dogs for a walk on a crisp autumn morning – we are fortunate to have so many lovely walks nearby, as we are right next to the Peak District. This would be followed by tea and cake, or an all-day breakfast if we were being particularly indulgent! The rest of the day would be spent writing or reading, before finishing off with some TV and a glass or two of wine.

JMR-What’s your favorite historical time period? Why?

MR- The Victorian era, because it was a time of such huge change – social, scientific, philosophical. Although there was still great disparity, we start to see real opportunities for women and for social mobility. This sense of revolution, that all things are possible, makes it the perfect backdrop for telling stories. It is also a period that is very accessible to modern day readers and writers, with so much literature and information available for research.

JMR-Who is your favorite historical figure? Why? If you could ask them one question, what would it be?

MR- Jane Austen, without a doubt. Because she was clever, witty and observant, and because she wrote six of my favourite books. I would ask what would have happened in her two unfinished novels (The Watsons and Sanditon) and what was in those letters that Cassandra felt she had to burn for the sake of your reputation.

JMR- You trained as a biochemist; how did you come to be a writer of historical fiction?

MR-You can’t be a scientist without having an interest in history. All scientific discoveries are built on what has come before. Without understanding what is already known, you end up going in the wrong direction, or reinventing the wheel. However, my love of historical fiction comes reading novels written in past eras. Austen, Dickens, Trollope and Gaskell transported me into their worlds, and I love to revisit them in my own writing.

JMR- Did you visit anyone of the places in your book? Where did you feel closest to your characters?

MR- My settings are fictional but based in reality. My first historical novel, The Secret of Matterdale Hall is a gothic mystery set in Yorkshire. When I was younger, I loved hiking, and crossed the Yorkshire Moors more than once. Those experiences helped me create the mood for Matterdale Hall, which is of chilly winds and isolation, where breathtaking beauty lives side by side with terrible danger.

I also enjoy visiting National Trust or English Heritage properties. I never visit a country house without an eye for authentic details that I can include in my writing.

JMR- Marianne tell us about your new book, A Lady to Treasure.

MR- A Lady to Treasure is a traditional-style Regency romance (closed door, language appropriate to the period), but the main love story just happens to be between two women. Louisa Silverton has been raised to value only money and profit, but when she meets the unconventional and charismatic Sarah Davenport, she starts to understand that there may be things of greater value than money. Sarah is working tirelessly to save her family estate from ruin. She despises marriage as an institution that subjugates women and cannot understand why someone so intelligent as Louisa is so eager to sacrifice herself for financial gain.

I like my stories to be about more than just two people falling in love, and in addition to the central romance, A Lady to Treasure explores contradictions around money, and what a strong, independent woman might achieve within the bounds of the social and legal constraints of the time.

JMR-What projects do you have in the pipeline?

MR- I’m currently working on a book set in 1870s Kansas – it started out as a fairly standard Western, with a romance subplot (sapphic, of course!) but in the course of research I realized there was much more going in Kansas at that time than we generally see in film and literature. It was such a fascinating time, politically and socially. Kansas was a real melting pot of ethnicities, religions and backgrounds, and the choices people made in the second half of the nineteenth century had huge implications. I’m enjoying weaving these aspects into the narrative.

JMR- Tell our readers how to find you on social media and the web.

MR- I have a website (, where you can sign up to my newsletter. I am also active on Twitter/X and instagram (@ratcliffe_mj)

JMR- What question were you hoping I’d ask but didn’t?

MR-I often get asked why I write sapphic historical fiction, when by far the biggest market for lesbian fiction is contemporary romance. The simple answer is that many of my favourite books were written in the Victorian and Regency periods but it’s almost impossible to find any that feature lesbians. If sapphic love was hinted it, it was usually in the context of moral depravity. The lack of lesbian and gay representation in the literature of the past is a constant reminder that acceptance of homosexuality is recent (and still not complete). In my writing, I try to create the illusion that my book was written in the relevant era. I want the reader to imagine picking up The Secret of Matterdale Hall or A Lady to Treasure in dusty old library next to a copy of Pride and Prejudice or The Woman in White. It seems to me there is a gap to fill, a need to remind everyone that lesbians have existed throughout history. It’s just that we weren’t allowed to tell our stories back then.

JMR- Thank you, Marianne, for stopping by. Your books look really great! Readers, I’ve included a link to Marianne’s books below. Please be sure to check them out.




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