The Lorenzo da Bologna Series

Bernard Trafford was inspired by a visit to Bologna in 2015 to write an adventure novel set in that medieval city during the mid-13th Century - the period in which its extraordinary stone towers were at their most numerous and powerful families lived their lives and conducted their intrigues in an almost separate world high above the city's streets,  That first book, Song for a Spy, was published in 2018, and received positive reactions.

Bernard found himself mining such a rich seam of historical background that he felt impelled to write a sequel: Ballad of Betrayal was published in 2020. 

He feels that there is still more to tell concerning Lorenzo and his friends, and the next book in the series (working title Requiem of Revenge) is underway.

What they said about Song for a Spy: 

"Inherently fascinating, historically detailed, exceptionally well written, and engagingly compelling, Song for a Spy is an extraordinary and fully entertaining read from beginning to end.”  Midwest Book Review 

“A really enjoyable read: the historical background was well researched, and the perception of music was inspiring. I also felt convinced by the depiction of the city states of Italy at the time - the casual violence and corruption, the commitment to the arts, the confusion of political allegiances.” Amazon review


Song for a Spy

Bernard's first novel, a historical adventure story, is available via Amazon for instant download or in paperback: click here. 

How does Lorenzo, until two days before a highly-trained choirboy, though already far from innocent of the world’s cruelty, find himself at the opening of the book helpless and facing excruciating torment at the hands of powerful and ruthless men?  The tale he recounts is set in thirteenth-century Bologna, against the backdrop of a power-struggle with neighbouring Modena amid the chaos of the Interregnum of the Holy Roman Empire. It leads him through kidnap, flight, political intrigue, seduction, torture and murder to the application of his skills as troubadour, scribe, eavesdropper, spy, willing but inexpert lover, unwilling but expert assassin. It reaches a bloody climax among Bologna’s corrupt potentates in their bizarre, rarefied world high in that city’s legendary medieval towers.


Ballad of Betrayal 

The thrilling sequel to Song for a Spy is also available in paperback and for instant download on Kindle via Amazon. Click here

A priceless relic is stolen and a captive king goes missing in a power-struggle centred on 13th-Century Bologna. In this rollicking sequel to Song for a Spy, choirboy-turned-lawyer’s clerk-turned-troubadour-turned-spy Lorenzo uncovers a plot that spells deadly peril for him and threatens chaos across the entire Holy Roman Empire.  

Compelled to forsake his comfortable way of life, he must undergo imprisonment, ordeal, seduction, torture and siege and put his life on the line to thwart powerful conspirators and save his friends held hostage and facing certain death.


Bernard's other writing

journalism, education and work for the stage


Though his first novel, Song for a Spy, was published only in 2018, Bernard Trafford has been writing widely and prolifically for three decades, penning first song lyrics, then serious educational articles and books before moving into journalism. For seven years he contributed a popular weekly opinion column to Newcastle's regional daily paper, The Journal, subsequently working with former Journal columnists to set up the blog-site Voice of the North

Education journalism

From around 2013 to 2020 Bernard wrote weekly educational blogs for tes magazine (formerly Times Educational Supplement) and occasional advice pieces for the online schools magazine SecEd.

He was a Leading Thinker for the National Education Trust, writing occasional articles and comment for its website.


For some years, Bernard advised the UK government's education ministry on Citizenship and Participation. He also worked with the Council of Europe and, in 2007, co-authored with Swedish headteacher Elisabeth Bäckman a manual on the Democratic Governance of Schools for circulation among the 49 member states: drawing closely on his professional experience and PhD research, it was translated into more than a dozen languages. 

Writing for the stage

Though he has been writing music for as long as he can remember, 2012 saw the production of Bernard's first stage script. For his contemporary/ political musical Flotsam, staged at Newcastle's Royal Grammar School in June/July 2012, he wrote not only the music and lyrics, but also the book. The performance is available for view on YouTube: click separately for Act 1 and Act 2.