Friday, 20 July 2018

Latest Release set during the City of Bath's Georgian Creation!


A little about my latest release! It's a novel I have become very fond of due to an ancestor of Francis Cavendish's, who held a special place in my heart when writing a series of novels set within the English Civil Wars. 


This is Francis Cavendish the hero! 
He was 18 yrs and newly returned from War when his portrait was painted. 
There is a heavily masked element within this image, and Francis is fortunate that men indeed wear facial powder (some theatrical paste) as well as powdered wigs in his lifetime. But when he rebels and sheds his false appearance reality strikes a cruel blow, at a time when vanity and perfection all things were uppermost. Thus his story begins when he's in his twenties and deep-seated hurt caused by one woman's cruel words haunt him, until he encounters Cassandra Brooke-Lavery. 

Whilst the Georgian era itself is looked upon as glorious period in history, in which ladies wore beautiful gowns, and gentlemen equally wore flamboyant attire, it was also a time of industrious architectural energy with the revival of great and ambitious building projects not seen since earlier times in Stuart England, when the rebuilding of London after the Great Fire of London was set out with plans Charles II approved with fervour. 

But, if one looks at houses built during the Stuart era, the resemblance of many Stately Homes such as Blenheim  Palace, Wilton House, and others, one can see reflections of those builds within the Georgian facades of Bath, Brighton, Cheltenham, and even Clifton in Bristol.

Whilst Francis holds no title and is no architect, he's descended from a long line of Bristol Merchant Venturers (Mountjoy and Thornton's) and that of an earldom within earlier English Civil War novels of mine featuring the Earl of Loxton. Francis  has inherited a vast fortune and becomes an investor, a young man with idealistic views as to what the City of Bath will become with vast crescents, and  glorious town houses. But his life is marred with personal unhappiness until by chance he makes the acquaintance of Cassandra.       

Book Blurb:

... “No one, absolutely no one will dare disturb us, unless the house catches fire”...

Cassandra never envisaged a week in the countryside with her cousin would lead to childish mischief. The prospect of the village stocks looms when they are caught trespassing within a grand country house. However, the law is the law, and the price of freedom in Cassandra’s case proves more costly than imagined, for she loses her heart to the very man whose portrait Sarah had fallen in love with, the man Sarah insists she will tempt and seduce at will. Cassandra’s release from custody by the man himself fuels jealousy and rivalry between her and Sarah. But when shocking revelations of a scandalous affair and illicit passions set precedence for a hasty elopement, stunned by it all, Cassandra discovers passionate asides can lead to true love and romance in the strangest of circumstance.

I hope and pray readers will enjoy this story for what it is - a touch of real-time history in the making and a touching love story! It's in paperback as well as e-book format. 

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

The Creation of Georgian Bath!



The City of Bath, set within the Vale of Avon, and within the County of Somerset, has long been looked upon as the Georgian City of Bath. And ever since Jane Austen lived there, albeit for a short while, few people realise her preference lay with Bristol, Clifton, in particular. Why might that be? If you've been to, or know Clifton, the answer lies in its elevation and the views which were spectacular in her day. 



View from Clifton before the grand terraces and crescents of Georgian Bristol were built. 


From Clifton she looked out across Bristol and the surrounding countryside to the River Avon below, and to the River Severn and the Bristol Channel (tidal waters) running betwixt the West Country and Wales. Clifton was quite unlike Bath, or the old City of Bristol. Although both city centres are set down in a basin surrounded by hills, quite small in modern terms, and at one time consisting of mediaeval buildings. Bristol had the advantage as the second most important sea port in England during the 16th-17th centuries, it was fought over time and time again throughout the years of the English Civil Wars (1642-1649), but as with other great sea ports, such as Plymouth, in the days of Sir Francis Drake, other ports gradually took precedence with shifting fortunes, political and military necessities of war with Napoleon. 

Sadly, in the height of the slave trade Bristol became blighted with a bad reputation for harbouring slavers. Hence as the abolition movement increased in momentum and focus centred on Bristol port in the late 1700s, slavers sought other ports and moved ships up north and to London with wares brought back from the West Indies to disguise their other trade.       

Bristol port was originally in the heart of the city, long since built on and all but disappeared barring a few remnants of the port, and the new port lies farther out on the Western edge of the city.



Bristol Harbour in the 1700s.   

The building of Georgian Bath began with the building of Milsom Street and other in 1762, instigated by Thomas Lightholder. The majority of the buildings were grand town houses incorporating existing detached properties, and it quickly became a commercial street when a bank took up residence followed by goldsmiths, modistes, tailors, et al. Bath was beginning towards a hub of social activity associated with the taking of the waters at the hot springs of the Roman Baths. Thus, Pulteney Bridge was completed in 1774, and likewise Great Pulteney Street and Laura Place became desirable residences. Before all that bridges were far lesser and required a little forethought in which route to take from Keynsham bridge to old bridge in bath, the same in coming from London to Bath, and schooners actually navigated upstream to Bath from Bristol on high tide. 


Old Bridge Bath. 

Earlier John Wood the elder (architect) had a grand visions for new build projects. He leased large tracts of land beyond the old city walls - his plan included Queen Square, the Parades, the Circus and other great ventures. His perception involved the grandeur of palaces combined with the practicality of mini mansions as private houses. Similar to today's builds, plots were individually leased to builders & tradesmen, all able to cater for tenants of differing purses, but each build was subject to Wood's fa├žades of uniform Georgian splendour. His grand plans were created with the visions of Palladian grandeur, not altogether new within England, for similar could be seen with vast country estates such as Blenheim Palace, the Duke of Marlborough's grand house completed in 1722 the Duke of Devonshire's country estate Chatsworth, the new build which began in 1687, though both have Stuart influence as well.    


Two images of Pulteney Bridge to show how beautiful it was during the late 1700s


In both pictures one can see the original diagonal weir, not the modern weir of today that was built in the 20th century. At either side/end of the weir stood two grain mills!


One of the first Crescents to be built was The Royal Crescent and later, Lansdown Crescent (upper edge of pic in the distance) - note the boats on the Avon.


Another view of Lansdown Crescent.


And here we have the Royal Crescent - originally known only as The Crescent.  


Second perspective of the RC. 


And of course, as authors, we have to remember only the Lower Assembly rooms existed in the early part of Georgian Bath along with the original Pump Room.
  


Lower Assembly Rooms with Harrison's Walks (Gardens) Now part of the Parade, since the lower assembly rooms no longer exist.


The Pump Room - 
And one simply cannot mention Bath and leave Beau Nash out of the frame, he, who became the master of ceremonies within the City of Bath's social whirl, and he really did rule the social order with a metaphorical iron glove. 

Thus, the building of Georgian Bath plays a small background roll to my novel -
In Love with a Portrait

Sometimes it's nice to escape Regency England and step back in time to the Georgian period proper. And that's what I did. 


And this is Harrison's Walks in the present day - Parade Gardens.


This is Francis Cavendish the hero!

Book Blurb:

... “No one, absolutely no one will dare disturb us, unless the house catches fire”...

Cassandra never envisaged a week in the countryside with her cousin would lead to childish mischief. The prospect of the village stocks looms when they are caught trespassing within a grand country house. However, the law is the law, and the price of freedom in Cassandra’s case proves more costly than imagined, for she loses her heart to the very man whose portrait Sarah had fallen in love with, the man Sarah insists she will tempt and seduce at will. Cassandra’s release from custody by the man himself fuels jealousy and rivalry between her and Sarah. But when shocking revelations of a scandalous affair and illicit passions set precedence for a hasty elopement, stunned by it all, Cassandra discovers passionate asides can lead to true love and romance in the strangest of circumstance.


  

Friday, 25 May 2018

Ratafia - Innocent Regency Cordial?

Ratafia



Renowned as a ladies cordial within the Regency era, though a much loved drink throughout the Georgian period, it is anything but as innocent as implied.

The ingredients suggest ladies enjoyed a little alcoholic tipple more than might be thought by those who had never partaken of the "supposed innocent" cordial!

Potent - or what?


Ingredients:



  • 1 quart of brandy


    • ½ bottle champagne

    • 1/2 cup of gin


    • ¼ cup of sugar

    • 2 oranges

    • 2 cups of cherries, pitted and squashed

    • 2 cups of blackberries

    • Dash of cinnamon

    • Dash of nutmeg

    • 1 teaspoon powdered rosemary
    • Three cloves (bruised)

    • ¼ cup crushed almonds

    The Process:
    Mix in a gallon glass jar. Cap jar and shake. Store in dark cupboard for three weeks, removing once a week to shake jar. 

    After three weeks, strain liquid through a cheesecloth, pressing down on solids to release their liquid. Distribute and store in several pint jars or tightly corked wine bottles.

    Tuesday, 15 May 2018

    Georgian Hairstyles pre-Regency era.

    Hairstyles of the Georgian period! 

    This article attempts to address the balance of hairstyles and fashion, because far too many readers and literary critics (who deem sense of expertise in matters of Georgian England) often seem to forget the greater part of the Georgian Period occurred within the 1700s - being that of  the 18th Century. Hence modicum of confusion arises with the coming of the Regency Era of the 1800s, being that of the 19th Century in matters of fashion, which includes hairstyles.


    In this picture are examples of Georgian hair styling.
    The first image represents back-combed hair with short ringlets and powered for fashionable effect.
    The second image is a young lady with natural hair in a pretty and becoming style, and this style remained popular for unmarried ladies until the coming of the Greek revivalist movement during the Regency era, when men went for the Corinthian, the Adonis, and other fashionable bent, whilst women went for short curls framing the face, top-knots and dangling ringlets.  
    The third picture is a strawberry-roan wig, no doubt similar in colour to the ladies natural hair colour, also lightly powdered.    

    To take stock of the early/mid part of the Georgian Period of England, it helps to remember Marie Antoinette was Queen of France, wife of Louis XVI at that time.



    Marie Antoinette.

    She was renowned for her outrageous wigs, but not all women during the Georgian period wore wigs, though some did, as did the Duchess of Devonshire when married, but when young she merely lightly powdered her hair and had it styled to the fashion of one long coil of hair over her shoulder similar the middle image top of page. 


    Duchess of Devonshire

    Other ladies of note, namely Lady Sheffield,  wore long style wigs.




    Whilst Mary Hamilton had her own hair styled and powdered.

    The following images are of TV/Movie productions, almost all with relevant hairstyles for the Georgian period - and pretty obvious which of these are wigs. Note the hairstyle bottom left corner which is totally wrong for Georgian period, not even early Victorian and is late Victorian /Edwardian. 



    Just prior to the Regency era, hairstyles were softer, wigs were worn far less by women who had lovely hair, though married women often still powdered their hair. And by now waistlines had crept upward, the A-line/French Empire line taking precedence. 




    By the Regency Era young girls were still given to wearing hair in loose coils (down) for informal dress, and up for formal occasions. Married ladies and mistresses always wore it up!




    In the year George, Prince of Wales, took office as the Prince Regent, the year of 1811, he assumed the working role of head of State in his father's stead. George III was sadly diagnosed as mentally incapable, thus the Prince of Wales, now Prince Regent had no idea when his father the king would die nor how long before he would become the monarch. 
    In 1820 The Regent became King. 
    The Regency era was at end, a mere 9 yrs in tenure, but Regency fashion and hairstyles continued until William IV became King on George IV's demise in 1830, merely ten years after the Regent became King. 

    During the reign of William IV ladies waistlines dropped, hairstyles went to buns and bunches, and silly side curls come the death of William in 1837, thus Princess Victoria became Queen.  


    Young Victoria!
      

    Sunday, 29 April 2018

    Book Covers Matter - or do they?


    “Book Covers Matter - Book Covers Matter”
    The above is the age-old Mantra of publishers, book designers, and authors alike.
    Then there’s the Secondary Mantra for Historical Novels!
    “Historical Accuracy is a Must- Historical Accuracy is a Must”
    ~
    And one would suppose that in the sphere of Historical Romance the Accuracy Mantra would be essential to depict accurately a Genre, Period in History, and Theme.
    Not so, Not so... Anything goes!

    Sadly, Historical Romance novels have transitioned across the years from the early days of elegant covers with inanimate objects or sensual painted pose.

     



    to the Bodice-Ripper era




    to the Headless or semi-headless Heroine era


    to the now Fantasy era of women bare-backed/half stripped, and those models in modern shirts. 




    Ahhhhhhhhh The shirt is all Wrong!


    Effectively covers have gone from the sublime to the ridiculous with supposed Historical Heroines depicted wearing modern Prom dresses or Fancy Dress Disneyesque frocks instead of Period Perfect Gowns. If that wasn’t enough to have officiandos of Historical accuracy cringing as they peruse book lists at Amazon, the mens' shirts can cause outrage amidst re-enactor communities and the Period Specific nerds, the latter of which I am one of many!



    A shirtless hero is by far preferable to one wearing incorrect attire for the period depicted within the pages of the novel.

      Nap-Shirt 



    Lace Jabot


     And it should be remembered button-through shirts didn’t exist prior to the 18th and throughout the Georgian period as a whole - inclusive the Regency period. But true enough, during the late Victorian era button-through shirts gradually came to fruition. So do not have your hero or heroine unbuttoning his shirt, unless you are writing a late-Victorian/Edwardian era novel. And remember smock shirts were still customary wear for the average Joe, as were nightshirts. It may also surprise readers and authors to learn ready-made attachments, such as frilled cuffs and a jabot - the former affixed with looped-through ties and the latter with back-buttons.



    Button-Through Victorian Dress shirt!

    Don't you just love that moustache... Tickle me, do...