Martine Bailey

Martine Bailey


Martine lives in Chester and writes crime and mystery novels with a local flavour. She was inspired to write her debut, An Appetite for Violets, by a collection of 18th century recipes at Erddig Hall and then set out to follow in the steps of Georgian travellers to Italy. Featuring irrepressible young cook Biddy Leigh, the novel was credited by Fay Weldon as creating the ‘culinary gothic’ genre and picked as one of the year’s Ten Best Crime Fiction Debuts by the American Library Association’s Booklist.

Her most recent book, The Almanack, is set in 18th century Cheshire and features a sinister almanack that seems to predict a series of murders around the country year. When Tabitha Hart returns to Chester from London she vows to solve a series of riddles to unmask her mother’s killer. ‘I was enthralled by the riddles and puzzles, twists and surprises.’ (Paula Brackston, author of The Witch’s Daughter).

The Penny Heart, is the story of two very different women, a sensitive young wife and her scheming cook. Set in a dilapidated Hall inspired by Plas Teg, Flintshire, it also transports the reader to Australia and New Zealand, where Martine travelled and researched for 20 months. It was selected as one of The Sunday Times Top Summer Reads.

A keen amateur cook and recipe writer, Martine won the Merchant Gourmet Recipe Challenge and was a former UK Dessert Champion, cooking at Le Meurice in Paris. She has studied with TV food historian Ivan Day and experienced Georgian food and fashion at first-hand with an historic re-enactment society..



Mystery, Thriller, Historical, Crime, Gothic, Food

Publications & Performance History

An Appetite for Violets: UK & Commonwealth (Hodder & Stoughton) May 2014

The Penny Heart UK & Commonwealth (Hodder & Stoughton) May 2015

The Almanack: UK and US (Severn House) January 2019

Workshop & Reading Experience

I have spoken at festivals and libraries (including Storyhouse), including giving popular illustrated talks on the inspirations for my books.

My interest areas are historic food and cookery, crime fiction, and Chester in the Georgian age. I enjoy speaking to book clubs and many groups enjoy baking historic cakes to get a taste of the era – and I’m happy to judge them if they wish!


Sara Porter, Editor at Severn House:

Group size preference

Up to 20

Group age preference


Working languages


Area prepared to travel

I prefer to stay within 1 hour of Chester. I do travel further afield but I might need to charge a fee. Please contact me to discuss.