Thursday, November 4, 2010

Guy Fawkes Night Mysteries

We may not celebrate Guy Fawkes Night here in the U.S., but this popular U.K. holiday is celebrated in several places around the world and appears in many crime fiction novels. As a listmaker, I felt compelled to put one together for this holiday. :-) See list below.

Guy Fawkes Night, also known as Bonfire Night, is an annual celebration, primarily in Great Britain, traditionally and usually held on the evening of November 5.  Festivities are centered on the use of fireworks and the lighting of bonfires.

Historically, the celebrations mark the anniversary of the failed Gunpowder Plot of November 5, 1605. Guy Fawkes Night originates from the Gunpowder Plot of 1605, a failed conspiracy by a group of provincial English Catholics to assassinate the Protestant King James I of England and replace him with a Catholic head of state. The survival of the king was first celebrated on 5 November 1605, after Guy Fawkes, left in charge of the gunpowder placed underneath the House of Lords, was discovered and arrested.

Traditionally, an effigy (or "guy") representing Fawkes is ritually burnt on the bonfire. In the weeks before bonfire night, children traditionally displayed the "guy" and requested a "penny for the guy" in order to raise funds with which to buy fireworks. This practice has diminished greatly, perhaps because it has been seen as begging, and also because children are not allowed to buy fireworks. In addition there are concerns that children might misuse the money. And another reason might be that Halloween is becoming more popular and replacing  Guy Fawkes Night in many British communities.

Just an interesting FYI:
In Britain, there are several foods that are traditionally consumed on Bonfire Night:
Bangers and mash
Black treacle goods such as bonfire toffee
Toffee apples
Baked potatoes which are wrapped in aluminium foil and cooked in the bonfire or its embers
Black peas with vinegar
Potato pie with pickled red cabbage

Check out for a great recipe for Bonfire Brownies

Guy Fawkes Night Crime Fiction

The Progress of a Crime by Julian Symons
The Powder Treason by Michael Dax
Gunpowder Plot by Carola Dunn
A Demon in My View by Ruth Rendell
A Fearsome Doubt by Charles Todd 
The Desperate Remedy: Henry Gresham and the Gunpowder Plot by Martin Stephen
"Murder in the Mews" by Agatha Christie

Thanks to everyone for help with titles. Did I miss any titles?

How are you celebrating Guy Fawkes Night?


Anonymous said...

I'm grilling out and watching "V for Vendetta".

vallerose said...

The new play, Equivocation, also deals with Guy Fawkes. The main character is Shakespeare and he is asked by King James to write a play. The plot is very convoluted but deals with many apparent discrepancies between what the accusers said happened and what actually happened.