For the past five years or so I have been living in the past or sort of, since I have spent all of that time doing research for my book: In Search of Annalena: a Life of Tragedy and Triumph in Renaissance Florence, due to be published by the end of October 2020. I’ve lost track of the number of hours that I must have spent poring over ancient documents in the State Archives in Florence and working in libraries both in Italy and in the UK. Carrying out the research was an immensely satisfying part of the process of writing my book whilst the actual writing itself was the ultimate expression of my labours.
The wonderful thing about research is that you never know where it might take you. Entering into the world of the fifteenth century noblewoman Annalena Malatesta brought me closer to a whole host of fascinating and interesting personalities from Renaissance Italy including members of the great Medici family of Florence, the Guidi of the Casentino and not least Annalena’s own family the Malatesta. Dark secrets came to the fore; most significantly the intrigue and mystery surrounding the murder of Annalena’s husband the great condottiere Baldaccio d’Anghiari. Furthermore, important Italian Renaissance art works both surviving and lost, took on a surprising and exciting new significance.
I wanted to live and breathe the air that Annalena Malatesta once did but most importantly I want to share her remarkable story with others. The name of Annalena still lives on in the city of Florence today. Annalena Malatesta was one of the most important female spiritual figures in fifteenth century Florence and as such her name deserves to be included in the line-up of individuals that helped to make Florence great.