Sarah Dunant

Sarah Dunant’s 2017 events

Sarah Dunant will be touring her brand new novel In the Name of the Family across 2017, and we will be keeping this post updated with new events as they are confirmed.


  • 6 March, 7pm: Sarah Dunant at the Ropetackle Arts Centre (Brighton) in association with City Books

    Presented by City Books. This special evening will include a reading, Q&A and book signing.

  • 10 March, 6.30pm: Sarah Dunant at the National Gallery (London)

    Bestselling novelist of the Italian renaissance, Sarah Dunant marks the opening of the Michelangelo exhibition with an illustrated lecture showing how historical fiction, when combined with an understanding of art and cutting edge research can bring alive the past in all its dazzling complexity.

    Her new novel In the Name of the Family follows Niccolò Machiavelli, a jobbing diplomat in Florence and offers a ringside seat on the rise and fall of the Borgias: unscrupulous pope, marriage pawn daughter and psychotic son pushing to create a dynastic state inside Italy.

    Politics, the power of religion, the horrors of war and the wonder of art: the lecture explores how the red-hot lava of energy of the renaissance combined sex and spirituality, corruption and creativity and brutality and beauty.

  • 18 March: Sarah Dunant at the Creative Industries Trafford: Northern Lights Writers’ Conference in partnership with Manchester Literature Festival

    Sarah is the keynote speaker for Northern Lights Writers’ Conference 2017.


  • 23 March: Sarah Dunant at the British Institute, Florence (Italy)


  • 6 April: An evening with Sarah Dunant at Topping (St Andrew’s, Scotland)

    Sarah Dunant, the internationally acclaimed author of The Birth of Venus, joins Topping & Company Booksellers to celebrate In the Name of the Family.

    “It is better to be feared than loved…” – Niccolo Machiavelli

    Dunant’s new novel is a brutal, stunning account of young Machiavelli’s encounter with the notorious Borgia family. A follow-up to the acclaimed Blood & BeautyIn the Name of the Family is a fresh and vital experience for any reader with an interest in the Renaissance period or, of course, Machiavelli himself.

    “A wonderful novel – taking you deep into the world of Renaissance passion and Renaissance papacy. Part of me was happily lost in the time travel, part of me repeatedly struck by how vividly ancient Rome met modern Rome, and how the city of history came to life.” – Mary Beard on Blood & Beauty.

    Thrillingly written and historically accurate, Dunant’s masterclass of Renaissance fiction will capture your imagination and leave you breathless.

The Borgias – What a Family. And an Apology

So, after a resounding silence of almost two years I am coming up for air to say thank you to all who have written. Forgive me if my replies have been slow. Writing is the most all consuming job and I find it so painful to have to leave and return to it, that while I am “in” everything else gets a little lost. I wish I could do it differently, but I can’t.

Blood and Beauty is now finished ( bar a few proof edits and a better map – this is Italy as you have never seen it before) and the clock ticking on publication; May in England. July in America and Canada. Many of you will come to this family with images and thoughts from things written , old history or the recent sky TV series.  All I can say is – suspend everything you think you know and let the novel paint the world and the people for you.  In so far as it is possible ( of course we never know everything about the past – and this is certainly so when it comes to the Borgias) I have set out to be as true to the real history as we know it , even down to real words spoken or written by and about them.  And the story that emerges… well I really I think it is more complex,  more satisfying and more compelling than anything you will have learned in the past.

There is a big debate to be had on how far historical fiction is fiction or history. And what is the responsibility of the novelist to balance imagination with facts.  As those who know my work will appreciate this is the first time I have written entirely about “real people” and that has been the biggest challenge. To bring them alive for a modern reader while still being true to their roots and moment within history. (which despite all of having the same emotions, often makes them “different” in some ways from us). It has been an exhausting but  fascinating journey.  I hope the result is worth it.  I have no doubt you will tell me.

My web site will be moving within the next month to a different format, but I will move with it. And talk as I go about the journeys I made through modern Italy to find the past – and how much of it is still there for you to see. I hope you will join me for the ride.

Thank you all


Why the Borgias?

Is there a family in history more dazzling, dangerous and notorious than the Borgias?

A powerhouse of the Italian Renaissance, the very name Borgia epitomises the ruthless behaviour and sexual corruption of the Papacy.

The father, Pope Alexander VI, a consummate politician and a man with a voracious appetite both for politics and women.

His eldest son Cesare, a dazzlingly cold intelligence with an even colder soul, whose military zeal is immortalised in Machiavelli’s The Prince.

The younger Juan, womanizer and thug, who brings destruction down on his own head.

And their lovely sister, Lucrezia, whose very name has become a byword for poison, incest and intrigue.

But how much of the history about this remarkable family is actually true, and how much distorted, filtered through the age old mechanisms of political spin, propaganda and gossip?

What if the truth, the real history, is even more challenging?

“Blood & Beauty: The Borgias” an epic novel which sets out to capture the scope, the detail, the depth, the colour and the complexity of this utterly fascinating family.