Thursday, April 4, 2019

Wiltshire - The Perfect Setting

I have started a new book--my twelfth! I can hardly believe it. And this Regency romance is set in Wiltshire, with a foray into Somerset for a visit to Bath.

The year is 1807, and all is tranquil in the county that is home to Stonehenge, Salisbury, the River Avon, and smugglers who gave the nickname Moonrakers to its native residents. The days are quiet at least in the fictional village that I have created for my characters. This village lies on the edge of the Vale of Pewsey with Salisbury Plain to its south, and the North Wessex Downs to the north.

My village is quiet, but Wiltshire in 1807 was a busy place.

Political concerns were in front of the public in May as new members were required for Parliament. Thomas Calley, the High Sheriff for 1807, was occupied with meetings and paperwork for the nominations and elections.

And then there were Quarter Sessions, promising justice, social gatherings and a great deal of business for everyone involved.
Salisbury and Winchester Journal - Monday 11 May 1807
The Wiltshire Yeomanry Cavalry was busy in the autumn of 1807. The Yeomanry had been formed in 1797, and although it did not fight abroad in the Napoleonic Wars, it was kept busy with internal skirmishes such as machine riots, and other civil troubles.
Salisbury and Winchester Journal - Monday 26 October 1807
Charitable activities abounded, and the turnpike trust was busy about the county improving the roads.
Salisbury and Winchester Journal - Monday 20 April 1807
The social life was likewise active with concerts available, and shops eager for business.
The proximity of Bath added to the social possibilities for residents of Wiltshire, and it is possible my heroine may have take advantage of advertisements like the last one in this trio--for lodgings.
Salisbury and Winchester Journal - Monday 26 October 1807
 So this is my life at present, researching lovely Wiltshire. I must say it is delightful work!

'Til next time,


Monday, March 4, 2019

Ahhhh, Brighton

Regency London is fascinating, Regency Bath is charming, but oh, Regency Brighton captures my heart and imagination. The seaside location, the humble origins, the rapid growth under the patronage of the Prince of Wales and the extravagance of the subsequent Prince in his Regency--it is all fodder for imagination and story-telling.

It can be difficult however, to get a clear picture of Brighton during the early years of the 19th century. One of the best of the contemporary reports on the town in my opinion, is Attree's Topography of Brighton.

I have not been able to discern which member of the Attree family was responsible for the book. The Attrees were a prominent and long-established family of Brighton. William Attree who died in 1810, was a lawyer and Clerk to the Town Commissioners, and was sometimes known as the King of Brighton. He had a brother Harry who may be the H. R. Attree on the title page above; William also had at least eight children.

Whichever Attree prepared the 'Topography', he/she did a grand job. The detail is remarkable and certainly shows a long familiarity with the town and its surroundings.
Attree unashamedly displays his admiration of the town.
The Pavilion of course is among the first places to be described. Its exterior at the early date was substantial but without the Eastern flair it later displayed.

And he does go on to describe every major room in all its highly decorated glory. But he also describes the town, street by street, almost building by building.

And he describes businesses: printing offices, coach offices, carriers' wagon offices and the post office. As well he recommends inns, the Old Ship Inn among others, and
 and boarding houses:
The Royal Circus is described as a building "exceedingly well adapted for the purpose for which it is intended...and its decorations
I could go on excerpting but this post is already long enough. You can find the book at Google Books and download it free for your reference use. Attree appended to the Topography a 'Picture of Roads' that lead to the town. It is as exhaustive and descriptive as his Topography; all the towns and villages nearby Bath are detailed.

If you are interested in the history of Brighton, I can recommend the following books as well:
New Encyclopaedia of Brighton by Rose Collis, Tim Carder
Historical Brighton: An Illustrated History of Brighton and its Citizens (Classic Reprint) by J. P. C. Winhip
A History of Brighton & Hove by Ken Fines
The Coach Roads to Brighton by Geoffrey Hewlett
and particularly,
Life in Brighton by Clifford Musgrave

If you enter Brighton in this blog's search box, you will find other posts about this interesting English town. Enjoy!

'Til next time,

Friday, February 15, 2019

It is release day for The Governess's Peculiar Burden! It is an exciting time for me, releasing my latest endeavour to the world.

Please visit or your favourite ebook retailer for your copy.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Less than Two Weeks

It is now eleven days until the publication of my newest book "The Governess's Peculiar Journey." You can probably tell that I am excited about my latest release!

I don't like to talk about a book while I am writing it, but once the story is finished, I enjoy discussing it. The heroine of this book is the governess of the title. But she is a governess in Victorian England, in 1865. This is odd for a Regency romance, but with time travel all things are possible.

Avice Palsham is my governess's name, and she travels back in time to 1815. I have discussed governesses before in this blog, but not Victorian ones. But in fact, the life of a governess changed little in the fifty years from 1815 to 1865. Governesses in both eras were under-valued, and derided, and inhabited ill-defined positions
in the households where they resided.

A governess is arriving into a merchant's house
by Vasily Perov (Russian) circa 1860
The Governess by Richard Redgrave 1844
The oil paintings above show situations Avice Palsham might certainly have experienced.

Governess by Rebecca Solomon (detail)
This picture above, painted in 1851, shows a governess and her young charge much like Avice and little Jacob. 

When looking for a post, Avice might have advertised  like her Regency counterpart did, below.
Morning Post 1 January 1810
Or she might have used an agency like the one below.
Morning Chronicle Monday, January 4, 1819
Another option Avice might have chosen, and perhaps she wished she had when the time travel occurred, was that of 'daily governess'. We might today call such a teacher, who did not live in the home of their employer, a 'tutor'. I find the position of the daily governess intriguing, and I have written a short story about such a governess.
Morning Chronicle January 3, 1815
There were many books available that instructed the governess on how best to teach her  pupils. From what I know of Avice, she would have read as many of these as were available to her.

Avice Palsham is certainly a real person now to me, after writing her story. I hope that when this book is released on February 15, she will become real to everyone who reads it.

'Til next time,


Monday, January 7, 2019

The Red Tower Stories

Happy New Year!

"The Governess's Peculiar Journey" is now available for pre-order at Amazon and other e-booksellers! It's the end of the long writing process and the beginning of the marketing process.

However, here, I want to talk about writing the books, the how and why of the two Red Tower stories. The first, as you may know, was The Earl's Peculiar Burden. It took shape as I began to think, a few years ago, about how modern and amazing the Regency era in England would look to someone from several centuries earlier.

Most time-travel stories involve either someone from our current time traveling to the past, or someone from the past traveling to the present. In my time-travel story, I didn't want to involve the present day at all.

In the Red Tower stories I have taken the Regency era in England as my 'present day' and I bring characters from other eras to the Regency. So, in the first book, Ysmay of Scarsfield travels from the 1200s to the Regency and finds it a place of unimaginable advancement and wonder. 
This is how I see Ysmay when she first arrives from the Middle Ages. (Wikimedia Commons)
But in this new, second book, Avice Palsham, a governess from 1865, finds the Regency old-fashioned and she has a Victorian preconception of the era as immoral and uncouth.
This is how I visualize Avice in her 1865 garb. (Perov 'guvernanka kupe' [detail] from Wikimedia Commons)
It has been fascinating to imagine the characters' views of the Regency era in which they find themselves. To make those views authentic though took a lot of research. Fortunately, as you know, I love research, and because I have been reading English history for a long time, I had the books I needed right in my research library. 
A portion of my 'research library'
For a general overview, in writing both books, I referred to "The Culture of the English People" by N. J. G. Pounds and "A Social History of England" by Asa Briggs among other titles. For the Victorian era, I looked at "The Victorian Scene: 1837-1901" by Nicolas Bentley, and others (I must admit to having a lot of books on the Victorian period). The Medieval period is excellently described in the books of Frances and Joseph Gies written in the 1970s and 80s, including "Life in a Medieval Village" and "Life in a Medieval Castle".

It has been fun writing the Red Tower stories. There will probably be more, and who knows, one may include someone from our present-day travelling to the Regency. I will never say it will never happen! But time travel may have to wait a while--other Regency tales are swirling, there are characters who want their stories told.

If you ever wish to discuss writing in general, or in particular, please contact me. If you have a research question or problem you need help with, I would be glad to try and assist you. Also, you may notice that my blog has a brand-new look; I would love to know what you think of it.

'Til next time,