Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Penning earthy Georgian and Regency Romance novels & dissing author myths.

“...she had never thought it was possible to fall in love at first sight...”

An arranged marriage against her will and Erica Townsend is at odds with her father, and worse, he is not the father she had thought he was when friends and acquaintances of his pay visit to the family house. Albeit initially intrigued and voyeuristically mesmerised by an event that unfolds within the garden arbour, she and her younger sister decide they cannot remain within a house where Erica’s betrothed debauches other women at will, as does their father. Desperate in seeking the help of a gentleman neighbour who is sweet on her sister, their chosen escape route is fraught with temptations along the way. Whilst Erica dares to appear bolder than she is, can she truly trust the Earl of Epsom, or is he as much a libertine as her betrothed?

Although I love penning Georgian and Regency romance novels I refuse to abide to a rose-tinted perspective of historical periods in which men of means acquired mistresses at will, and libertines were rife. Nor do I ignore the facts of parish church registers relating to marriages and births, which declare six and seven month pregnancies were higher during the period of the Napoleonic Wars than the post-Restoration years of Charles II and his libertine reign. Whilst it is true to say, it takes two to tango, by that maxim a lot of young Georgian and Regency misses lost their virginity long before they were marched down the aisle by a father who may, or may not have held a pistol to the bridegroom’s back afore hand. Thus I am bold enough to present stories of a realistic bent in which passions of a romantic nature oft start innocently enough, until a potent kiss stirs feelings and needs that override good sense in the heat of the moment. Hence my novels and novellas range from sensual to steamy; as and when the characters feel the need to express more than mere sentiments with spoken words.

It is also a myth inspired and perpetuated by authors of Regency romances that most, if not all young ladies of good breeding had chaperones. Jane Austen frequently walked alone in places where she lived, not least in the City of Bath, thus her heroines' reflect that same freedom to come and go as they wished and without parental supervision or companionship of a maid, maiden aunt, or other. The reason adult females accompanied a young miss on her first outing to Almack’s/Almacks – either form of the latter is correct, if one looks at differing time-frames on invitations signed and dispatched by the patronesses – the same rule applied to the opera or the theatre, all places where it was considered unseemly for unsupervised young ladies to attend in the company of adult gentlemen.

A secondary myth abounds to do with Almack’s/Almacks, in which young gentlemen could secure an invitation for a young lady to attend at functions. No, that is utterly incorrect – not even if the young gentleman was her brother or cousin could he obtain an invitation: the only exception being if that gentleman was her legal guardian. Aunts and married female cousins could elicit an invitation from the patronesses if the aunt or cousin had access to or a close connection to a patron of Almack’s/Almacks inner circle.

If you feel inclined toward realistic and earthy accounts of Georgian and Regency romance and love stories that are often linked in some way, you may have discovered from reading some of mine, that characters from one book often reappear in another. I sincerely hope readers enjoy discovering who fraternises with whom in the years spanning the Georgian period and the Regency era!

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Purchase of Military rank in Regency era - before & after.

The Rose tinted aspect of Regency Romance Novels & the thorny issue of missing key facts when writing Historical Fiction. 


Not all regiments were open to purchase of rank! The RMA (Royal Military Academy) was founded in 1741 at Woolwich to train gentlemen cadets for the Royal Artillery and Royal Engineers, and later for the Royal Corps of Signals.

The RMC (Royal Military College) began in 1800 as a school for staff officers which later became the Staff College, Camberley. A Junior Department was formed in 1802, to train gentlemen cadets as officers of the Line. A new college was built at Sandhurst, into which the cadets moved in 1812. After 1860, the RMC succeeded the East India Company’s Military Seminary as the establishment where most officers of the Indian Army were trained. Following the abolition of the purchase system in 1870, attendance at Sandhurst became the usual route to a commission. The college was enlarged in 1912, when New College was built.

The RMAS (Royal Military Academy Sandhurst) as we know it today at Sandhurst was formed in 1947. It was descended from two older institutions, the Royal Military Academy (RMA) and the Royal Military College (RMC).

Commissions could only be purchased in cavalry and infantry regiments, and therefore up to the rank of Colonel only. Commissions in the Royal Engineers and the Royal Artillery were awarded to those who graduated from a course at the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich, and subsequent promotion by seniority. Such officers (and those of the Army of the British East India Company), were often looked down upon as being "not quite gentlemen" by officers who had purchased their commissions. Not all regiments were open to purchase of rank!


The Royal Navy never practised the sale of commissions, with advancement in officer ranks being solely by merit and/or seniority. But, if your father was an admiral or vice admiral the chances were good you would attain advancement faster on the proviso you passed relevant exams/tests!  

Time and time again I keep encountering blog posts referring to purchase of Army and Navy commissions, and many of the blog posts are inaccurate. So this is a short reminder for authors of not only Regency novels, but other periods in history where you have chosen a British naval officer as your hero etc. No one, not even aristocrats could "purchase a commission" within the English Royal Navy. New recruits had to start at the bottom as "Midshipman" and that went for any boy from a good family to a duke's son. Some boys, such as Horatio Nelson, Viscount Nelson, started as servants to a senior officer. 

Midshipmen were usually the sons of wealthy or aristocratic families training to become commissioned officers. The majority were from seafaring families with a long history of serving King & Country at sea, either as naval personnel or became privateers once they had gained a captaincy. They joined the navy at the age of 12 to 14 and were easily identified by the white patch on the collar of their uniform. They were taught navigation, astronomy and trigonometry by the ship's schoolmaster as well as undertaking watches on deck, To gain higher rank they were required to sit exams, stiff exams, and many failed and often left the navy and instead purchased a commission within the Army Regiments.