Cozy Up to an Austen-Inspired Mystery – The Phantom of Pemberley

The Phantom of Pemberley: A Pride and Prejudice Mystery was my sixth Jane Austen book. As with many of my author friends, I am more than a bit of a “Jane Austen geek.” I have loved Jane Austen’s works since I was a pre-teen.
If he has to kill a thousand men, the Phantom will kill and kill again!
Phantom is what is known as a “cozy mystery,” along the lines of what one would find with Agatha Christie or Sherlock Holmes. A “cozy” has very specific characteristics: is set in a country house or small town; is a domestic crime; has a gifted amateur who cross examines the suspects and after a clever explanation discloses the guilty person. It mostly focuses on solving the mental aspects of the crime.
So, we open the book to find Darcy and Elizabeth, married for a year and blissfully happy with plans for the future of the estate and their marriage. However, we know what happens when we tell God our plans. He has a hearty laugh and sends us a good dose of humility. Enter that humility in the form of the worst snowstorm in a decade. Add the appearances of Lydia Bennet Wickham for a planned visit and of Lady Catherine and Anne de Bourgh, both making an unexpected call at Pemberley, the first since Darcy and Elizabeth’s wedding. Of course, an eclectic mix requires a bit more than the Austen standard fare. Because of the storm, Lydia invites her fellow traveling companions from the public coach to stay at Pemberley. As readers we meet Nigel Worth, a country solicitor, and Evelyn Williams, a naval widow. Compound the mix of guests at Pemberley with a friend of Colonel Fitzwiliam, the future earl of Greenwall, who also finds himself stranded in Derbyshire with no place to stay. Therefore, against his better judgment, Darcy accepts Adam Lawrence, Viscount Stafford, and Lawrence’s mistress, Cathleen Donnel, at the estate.
You will curse the day you did not do all that the Phantom asked of you!
Snowed in for, at least, a week, Darcy and Elizabeth set about entertaining so varied a guest list, but entertainment becomes a minor problem. First, Elizabeth sees an unknown stranger along one of the fields surrounding the manor house, then Georgiana spots a like figure close to the cottagers’ huts. The Pemberley staff think it the Shadow Man, but even that legend does not explain the unusual thefts about the house, the appearance of a disembodied ghost in Georgiana’s room, a staged accident on the stairs, and a series of what appears to be unconnected murders. What Darcy has at Pemberley is a “phantom,” who is obviously set on revenge.
One of the things I enjoy when I write is exploring history and incorporating it into the story line. First, forPhantom, I used the legend of the Shadow Man or Hat Man, as he is sometimes called. Most cultures have a variation on this legend. The easiest way to explain a Shadow Person is when one thinks he sees someone out of the corner of his eye and then turns his head to find nothing. I found it very interesting that Wes Craven spoke of a scary experience with a shadowy creature as a young boy. Some suggest that this incident was the inspiration for Freddy Krueger. To read more of Craven’s story and Shadow People go
Next, finding out creative ways to dispose of the chosen victims was essential. I was very lucky in that women of the Regency era, quite literally poisoned themselves with their beauty products. During this era, white skin signified a life of leisure while skin exposed to the sun indicated a life of outdoor labor. In order to maintain a pale complexion, women wore bonnets, carried parasols, and covered all visible parts of their bodies with whiteners and blemish removers. Unfortunately, more than a few of these remedies were lethal.Into the nineteenth century, ladies used a whitening agent composed of carbonate, hydroxide, and lead oxide, which the body stored with each use, resulting in muscle paralysis or death. By the nineteenth century zinc oxide became widely used as a facial powder, replacing this more deadly mixture. Even in the early 1800s, we must ask the question: What price beauty?
Hopefully, the red herring is not too obvious for those of you who devour mysteries. I have planned some twists and turns to the story, which I pray will keep it interesting. For example, in Phantom, I play a bit more with the character of Anne de Bourgh. In Darcy’s Temptations, I gave Anne de Bourgh a life after Darcy’s desertion, but I found I did not like her much afterwards; and I wanted to like Anne. Therefore, in this one Anne finally gets a spine and seeks love in all the wrong places before finding what is important in a relationship: a apt lesson for a woman well on the shelf by Regency standards.
One of the things I found in writing this book is I became quite interested in the character of Adam Lawrence, a very “major” minor character in The Phantom of Pemberley. Lawrence has developed into what Francis Henning is to author Victoria Alexander. He makes an appearance in eleven other of my works. Therefore, I have written a novella (“His Irish Eve”) about what happens to Lawrence in the future, six years after the close of Phantom. I hope to release two novellas together, each based around the minor characters in my other novels. Fans always ask what I would plan for certain characters. Now they will get a chance to find out. “His Irish Eve” is Lawrence’s story, and “His American Heart Song” is that of Lawrence Lowery from my “Touch” series.
In dreams, that voice calls to me and speaks my name. And do I dream again? For now I find the Phantom is there, inside my mind.
“It is far harder to kill a phantom than a reality.” (Virginia Woolf)
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During the Reign of George IV: The Catholic Relief Act of 1829

140px-Coat_of_Arms_of_the_United_Kingdom_(1816-1837).svg The Roman Catholic Relief Act 1829, passed by Parliament in 1829, was the culmination of the process of Catholic Emancipation throughout Britain. In Ireland it repealed the Test Act 1673 and the remaining Penal Laws, which had been in force since the passing of the Disenfranchising Act of the Irish Parliament of 1728. Its passage followed a vigorous campaign on the issue by Irish lawyer Daniel O’Connell. O’Connell had firm support from the Prime Minister, the Duke of Wellington, as well as from the Whigs and liberal Tories.

The Act permitted members of the Catholic Church to sit in the Parliament at Westminster. O’Connell had won a seat in a by-election for Clare in 1828 against an Anglican. Under the then extant penal law, O’Connell as a Roman Catholic, was forbidden to take his seat in Parliament. Sir Robert Peel, the Home Secretary, who had until then always opposed emancipation (and had, in 1815, challenged O’Connell to a duel) concluded: “though emancipation was a great danger, civil strife was a greater danger.” Fearing a revolution in Ireland, Peel drew up the Catholic Relief Bill and guided it through the House of Commons. To overcome the vehement opposition of both the House of Lords and King George IV, the Duke of Wellington worked tirelessly to ensure passage in the House of Lords, and threatened to resign as Prime Minister if the King did not give Royal Assent.

The campaign for Catholic emancipation in Ireland, 1828–1829, was led by Daniel O’Connell (1775–1847), organiser of the Catholic Association, but many others were active as well, both for and against.

Richard Wellesley

Richard Wellesley

As Lord Lieutenant of Ireland from 1822 to 1828, the Marquess Wellesley (brother of the Duke of Wellington) played a critical role in setting the stage for the Catholic Emancipation Bill. His policy was one of reconciliation that sought to have the civil rights of Catholics restored while preserving those rights and considerations important to Protestants. He used force in securing law and order when riots threatened the peace, and he discouraged the public agitation of both the Protestant Orange Society and the Catholic Society of Ribbonman.

Bishop John Milner was an English Catholic cleric and writer highly active in promoting Catholic emancipation, prior to his death in 1826. He was a leader in anti-Enlightenment thought and had a significant influence in England as well as Ireland, and was involved in shaping the Catholic response to earlier efforts in Parliament to enact Catholic emancipation measures.

Meanwhile Ulster Protestants mobilised, after a delayed start, to stop emancipation. By late 1828 Protestants of all classes began to organise after the arrival of O’Connellite Jack Lawless who planned a series of pro-emancipation meetings and activities across Ulster. His move galvanised the Protestants to form clubs, distribute pamphlets and set up petition drives. However the Protestant protests were not well funded or coordinated and lacked critical support from the British government. After Catholic relief had been granted, the Protestant opposition divided along class lines. The aristocracy and gentry became quiescent while the middle and working classes showed dominance over Ulster’s Catholics through Orange parades.

The Parliamentary Elections (Ireland) Act 1829 (10 Geo. IV, c. 8) which accompanied emancipation and received its Royal Assent on the same day, was the only major ‘security’ eventually required for it. This Act disenfranchised the minor landholders of Ireland, the so-called Forty Shilling Freeholders and raised fivefold the economic qualifications for voting. Starting in the initial relief granting the vote by the Irish Parliament in 1793, any man renting or owning land worth at least forty shillings (the equivalent of two Pounds Sterling), had been permitted to vote. Under the Act, this was raised to ten pounds.

Political Results
J. C. D. Clark (1985) depicts England before 1828 as a nation in which the vast majority of the people believed in the divine right of kings, and the legitimacy of a hereditary nobility, and in the rights and privileges of the Anglican Church. In Clark’s interpretation, the system remained virtually intact until it suddenly collapsed in 1828, because Catholic emancipation undermined its central symbolic prop, the Anglican supremacy. Clark argues that the consequences were enormous: “The shattering of a whole social order….What was lost at that point… was not merely a constitutional arrangement, but the intellectual ascendancy of a worldview, the cultural hegemony of the old elite.” Clark’s interpretation has been widely debated in the scholarly literature, and almost every historian who has examined the issue has highlighted the substantial amount of continuity between the periods before and after 1828–1832.

Eric J. Evans (1996) emphasises that the political importance of emancipation was that it split the anti-reformers beyond repair and diminished their ability to block future reform laws, especially the great Reform Act of 1832. Paradoxically, Wellington’s success in forcing through emancipation converted many Ultra-Tories to demand reform of Parliament. They saw that the votes of the rotten boroughs had given the government its majority. Therefore it was an ultra-Tory, the Marquis of Blandford, who in February 1830 introduced the first major reform bill, calling for the transfer of rotten borough seats to the counties and large towns, the disfranchisement of non-resident voters, preventing Crown office-holders from sitting in Parliament, the payment of a salary to MPs, and the general franchise for men who owned property. The ultras believed that a widely based electorate could be relied upon to rally around anti-Catholicism.

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Exquisite Excerpt from and the History Behind “The Disappearance of Georgiana Darcy”

Exquisite Excerpt from “The Disappearance of Georgiana Darcy”

JeffersDofGD To give you a look at The Disappearance of Georgiana Darcy, I thought I might provide you a taste of the story line with two short excerpts and a bit about the historical setting. The Disappearance of Georgiana Darcy begins some three months after the close of Christmas at Pemberley. At the end of CatP, Georgiana Darcy and Colonel Fitzwilliam have married in a rush before he must join Wellington at Waterloo. At the beginning of TDofDG, Georgiana, in anticipation of her husband’s return to England, has traveled to Galloway in Scotland to prepare the Fitzwilliam property for their “honeymoon.” Alone on the Scottish moors, Georgiana receives word that her beloved Edward has died on the battlefield. Distraught, she has raced from the home she had set in preparation for celebrating their joining. Back at Pemberley, Darcy and Elizabeth are told in a hastily written letter from the Fitzwilliam housekeeper that they have conducted a search for Darcy’s sister on the Merrick moor, and Georgiana is presumed dead.The Disappearance of Georgiana Darcy is a cozy mystery based on the Scottish legends of the Merrick Moor and of Sawney Bean.

EXCERPT #1 (A girl has been found upon the moors and placed in a prison cell.)

Although the nightmare had returned, when a brace of candles floated into the room her eyes opened to devour the precious light. She pushed herself to a seated position and shoved several loose strands of hair behind her ears. She no longer possessed an idea of the number of days and nights she had spent curled up on the hard cot.

“I ‘ave brought ye a warmer gown—one of wool,” a female voice said. “If ye will change from yer fine cloth, I’ll be seeing to the stains.” The woman placed the expected food plate on the small stool. “I ’ave brought ye a bit of cheese this time.”

She watched the movements—memorizing the actions. How would it feel to walk across the room—to stretch her cramped muscles? By twisting awkwardly, she had managed to stand beside the cot and to mark her steps in place. To give her weakened legs some much-needed relief. But to actually take a step would be glorious. However, even the slightest shift on her part allowed the manacle to cut into her wrist.

“Come,” the woman said as she unlocked the metal cuff and assisted her to her feet. “There. Does that not feel better?” The woman rubbed her hands with her own, and life rushed into the girl’s fingertips. She searched the woman’s face, but all she could discern was the lady’s age. Likely her late fifties. Silver-gray hair. Very strong hands. Not dainty like those of a woman of good breeding. Her ministrations indicated that the woman did not readily retreat from hard work. Was she someone familiar? But the shadows robbed the girl of her savior’s other features. “Permit me to assist ye with yer laces and yer stays.”

Obediently, the girl turned her back to the woman. “My, yer skin be so smooth,” her captor said. The gown slipped down her body to the floor, and she stepped from it. A cold shiver rocked her spine, but she kept her focus on her surroundings. Where was she? Could she escape? The room resembled a cell–a place for prisoners, which is exactly what she was: someone’s prisoner, and she needed never to forget that fact. Breaching the stone walls was not possible. She would need another form of flight.

“This gown should be making ye more comfortable.” The woman dropped the cloth over her head and began to lace the eyelets. Without her stays, she would be able to move more freely. “I ’ave also brought ye some gloves, as well as this strip of cloth. It’ll be keepin’ the shackle from cuttin’ into yer skin.”

She turned to the stranger. “Must I be returned to the cuff?” She wanted to explore her options more fully, but she permitted the woman to refasten the chain.

“I ’ave no right to order it otherwise.” her captor’s gravelly voice held sadness, but the girl wondered if the woman offered an untruth. Something did not feel right. A shiver ran down the girl’s spine as she bent to accept the fastening.

“Then to whom should I plead my case?” she implored.

The woman’s mouth set in a tight line. “you’ll see in time.” The stranger straightened the gown’s line, tugging at the seams. “It be a bit tighter than I be thinkin’,” the woman said as she bent to retrieve the traveling dress from the floor.

Without considering the gesture, the girl’s hand came to rest upon her abdomen. “My family shall pay whatever you ask for my release,” she said softly.

“Not yer husband?” the woman accused as she strode toward the door.

“My husband is dead,” the girl said softly into the empty room.

EXCERPT #2 (When she discovers the news of Georgiana’s disappearance, Elizabeth chases Darcy into the Scottish countryside. She refuses to permit him to face the possibility of Georgiana’s death alone.)

“How much farther, Mrs. Darcy?” Ruth Joseph asked as she shifted in the coach’s seat.

“Mr. Simpson reports that we should be in Gretna Green within the hour. We shall spend the night. I would like to share some time outdoors with Bennet. I miss walking about with my son in my arms.”

“From Gretna, where to next?” Mary asked as she searched the landscape.

“Tomorrow, we shall turn toward Dumfries and then onto Thornhill. The next day we shall arrive at Kirkconnel.” Elizabeth, too, stared at the changing scenery. “The land seems so hard,” she said as she thought of her home. “I once considered Derby and the Peak District quite savage, especially as compared to Hertfordshire. Yet, it was not wild, but wonderfully majestic and as old as time. Now, I look at this rugged terrain and wonder about those who live in the Scottish Uplands.” Elizabeth sighed deeply. “Will these people have nurtured Mr. Darcy’s sister? Is she safe among those who eke out a living in this rocky soil? Will such people treat kindly a girl who until not two years prior shrank from her own shadow?”

EXCERPT #3 (When she falls and strikes her head upon the harden floor, the girl is moved to a room where her captors can tend her.)

“There. There.” The woman patted the back of her hand. “Ye be safe. We let nothin’ happen to you.”

The girl opened her eyes wider. The room was cleaner and larger than she had expected. “Where am I?” She attempted to sit up, but the woman pressed her back.

“Might be best not to move too quickly,” she said.

The girl sank into the soft cushions. “I am thankful for your consideration, but I would know the name of my rescuers and of my current direction.”

The woman captured her hand. The warmth felt good against her chilled fingers; yet, a warning rang in her subconscious. She could not pinpoint the exact moment that betrayal manifested itself upon the woman’s countenance, but it had made a brief appearance. Her breathing shallowed in response. “We be the MacBethan family, and you be a guest at our home in Ayr. Me oldest son is the current laird. Of course, ye know me youngest Aulay.” She gestured to a young man in his twenties waiting patiently by the door. “One of arn men found ye and brung ye to arn home. Do ye remember any of wot I tell?”

Her mouth twisted into a frown. “I recall a different room, and I remember your presenting me with a fresh gown.”

“And that be all ye remember?” The woman asked curiously. “Nothin’ of yer home? Yer family befoe ye came to Normanna Hall?”

The lines of the girl’s forehead met. A figure stroking her hair softly fluttered at the edges of her memory. And another of water sucking the air from her lungs. Tentatively, she said, “Only what I have previously said.” She would not speak more of the comfort the figure had given her until she knew what she faced in this house. The woman shot a quick glance at her son. Soothing the hair from her face, she told the girl, “The room must ’ave been the sick- room. Ye be lost on the moor for some time and be in despair. We not be knowin’ if’n ye wud live. The family be thankin’ the gods for yer recovery.”

The girl stared at the woman who tenderly stroked her arm; nothing of what this woman spoke rang true; yet, she could not dispute the obvious. She had suffered, and she was a stranger at Normanna Hall. “May I know your name?”

“Dolina MacBethan. Me late husband, may he rest in peace, and now me son be Wotherspoon.”

“Dost thou raise sheep?” The girl inquisitively asked before she could resist the urge to know more of her surroundings.

The woman pointedly dropped her hand. “The family surname comes from those who tend sheep. It be an honest trade. Although our fortunes are now tied to Galloway cattle. The land be not so fit for farmin’.”

The girl shoved herself to her elbows. “I meant no offense.” The woman’s tone reminded her that she would need to guard her impulsive tongue.

As she watched, her hostess purposely smiled; yet, the gesture did not appear genuine. “Of course, ye not be offering an offense. ye be part of the family. Or very near to being so.”

Suspicion returned, but the girl schooled her tone. “I am a part of the MacBethan family? When did that happy event occur?”

“It not be official.” The woman straightened her shoulders. “ye have accepted Aulay’s plight, and we be planned a joinin’ in a week or so. As soon as ye be regainin’ yer strength.”

“I am to marry Aulay?” she said incredulously. “how can that be? Until a few hours ago, I held no memory of your son. He is a stranger to me.”

Dolina turned quickly toward the door; she shooed her son from the room. “I be givin’ ye time to remember yer promise to this family, Lady Esme, and yer lack of gratitude for our takin’ ye to our bosom.”

“Lady Esme?” The girl called after her. “Is that my name?”

The woman turned to level a steady gaze on her. “Of course, it be yer name. Ye be Lady Esme Lockhart, and ye be Aulay’s betrothed.”

“Mam?” Aulay whispered in concern once they were well removed from the closed doorway. “Wot have ye done? She not be Lady Esme Lockhart.” he gestured toward the room where they detained the girl. “She no more be Lady Esme than I be Domhnall.”

Dolina shushed his protest. “Didnae ye hear the gel? She cannae remember her own name. We kin create the perfect mate fer ye. Do ye not comprehend? I knows ye be slow, but it must be as plain as the lines on me face. She cannae rescind her agreement without just cause. It not be the ’onorable thing to do. Besides, when the gel recalls the bairn she carries, then she’ll be glad to ’ave a man who’ll accept another’s child.”

“But we be tellin’ her the truth?” he insisted. “We tell the gel of ’er real family?”

His mother rolled her eyes in exasperation. “Certainly, we’ll tell the gel of ’er roots. But for now, she be Lady Esme.”


This is the Grey Man in Merrick. The snow hill behind him is Benyellary.

Book Blurb:

Shackled in the dungeon of a macabre castle with no recollection of her past, a young woman finds herself falling in love with her captor–the estate’s master. Yet, placing her trust in him before she regains her memory and unravels the castle’s wicked truths would be a catastrophe.

Far away at Pemberley, the Darcys happily gather to celebrate the marriage of Kitty Bennet. But a dark cloud sweeps through the festivities: Georgiana Darcy has disappeared without a trace. Upon receiving word of his sister’s likely demise, Darcy and wife, Elizabeth, set off across the English countryside, seeking answers in the unfamiliar and menacing Scottish moors.

How can Darcy keep his sister safe from the most sinister threat she has ever faced when he doesn’t even know if she’s alive? True to Austen’s style and rife with malicious villains, dramatic revelations and heroic gestures, this suspense-packed mystery places Darcy and Elizabeth in the most harrowing situation they have ever faced – finding Georgiana before it is too late.

This is the infamous “Murder Hole.” Legend has it that many years ago weary travelers were robbed and their bodies dumped in the hole never to be seen again. In summer there is a ring of reeds growing around the hole but none grow in it. Its also rumoured that in even the coldest winters, the centre never freeze.

Posted in book excerpts, British history, gothic and paranormal, Industry News/Publishing, Jane Austen, legends and myths, Scotland, Ulysses Press, writing | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Georgian Happenings: The Wapping Coal Riots of 1798

John Harriott

John Harriott

Wapping Coal Riots of 1798
By Regina Jeffers

Coal was a major source of heat and an important commodity to London’s financial stability. As such, ships filled with coal called in at the various ports of London on the River Thames. Early on, officers of the West India Merchants and Planters Marine Police Institute (England’s first organized police force) patrolled the crowded Thames waters from their headquarters at Wapping New Stairs.

To understand the changes coming to the area at the turn of the 19th Century, one must realize that NO absolute authority existed to stifle the crimes, which followed the rapid growth of the area. John Harriott and Patrick Colquhoun organized their “Thames River Police” differently from what we know today of a marine police force. For one thing, the officers were watermen, lumpers, and surveyors. Initially, only five officers patrolled the area, and Harriott and Colquhoun learned to depend on “honest” workers among those who frequented the docks along the Thames. Harriott employed lumpers and watermen to help “police” the unloading of vessels. These men were under the protection of the Marine Police Office. They were paid extra for their diligence in stifling the crimes committed along the river. One such man was Gabriel Franks, the first “police officer” killed in the line of duty. When the coal ships were unloaded, thieves helped themselves to a substantial amount and sold it at “coal markets” along the streets of Wapping.

With Government's approval obtained the Marine Police began on the 2 July 1798 in Wapping High Street, on the site of the present Headquarters of the Marine Support Unit (MSU) of the Metropolitan Police.

With Government’s approval obtained the Marine Police began on the 2 July 1798 in Wapping High Street, on the site of the present Headquarters of the Marine Support Unit (MSU) of the Metropolitan Police.

On 16 October 1798, three men had been accused of coal theft and were standing trial at the Thames Magistrates Court attached to the Marine Police Office. Two of the men were coal heavers, while the third was a watchman’s boy. “They were all convicted and each fined forty shillings. As they left the building, friends arrived at the court, and paid the fines. Upon leaving, one of the three, Charles Eyers was met by his brother, James, who said, ‘Damn your long eyes, have you paid the money?’ Charles said, ‘Yes, I have.’ James then took his brother by the collar, dragged him toward the door and said, ‘Come along and we shall have the money back or else we shave have the house down!’ Within a very short period of time a hostile crowd had gathered outside the police office, and stones and rocks were being directed against the windows. The action that was to follow was to leave two men dead and another wounded.” (Thames Police Museum)

ps354348_lThose inside the Marine Police Office attempted to secure the building, but as the crowd and the violence continued, Officer Perry removed his pistol and fired upon the crowd. One of the rioters was killed, and the crowd outside withdrew slightly, but they did not disperse. Patrick Colquhoun took the opportunity to step into the street and to read the crowd the Riot Act. However, they refused to abandon their mission.

A man named Gabriel Franks was in a nearby public house. Upon hearing the noise of the crowd, he made his way to the Police Office and asked to be admitted, but the crowd drove him away. He retreated where he might observe the goings on. Franks instructed one of his companions (Mr Peacock) from the tavern to keep an eye on the rioters while he went to secure a cutlass for their protection. Unfortunately, before Franks could return, he was shot along the Dung Wharf.
Franks did not immediately succumb to his wounds, but lived on for several days. William Blizzard, a surgeon at the London Hospital, treated him. Assumptions are made as to the reason(s) for Franks’ attack, likely he was singled out for his association with the Police Office. Despite there being little evidence to the act, James Eyers was eventually arrested and charged with Franks’ murder. Eyers’ inciting the riot was, as a point of law, was responsible for Franks’ death, and the court agreed. He was tried and convicted of the crime and sentenced to hang. “In passing sentence the judge, Mr Justice Heath, donned the traditional black cap and spoke the usual and well-known phrase, ‘Prisoner. May the Lord have mercy upon your soul.’ Eyers replied, “Amen, I hope he will.” (The Thames Police Museum)

The actual trial transcript can be viewed at the Old Bailey trial site:

Meet Regina Jeffers:
Regina Jeffers is the author of several Austen-inspired novels, including Darcy’s Passions, Darcy’s Temptation, Vampire Darcy’s Desire, Captain Wentworth’s Persuasion, The Phantom of Pemberley, Christmas at Pemberley, The Disappearance of Georgiana Darcy, Honor and Hope and The Mysterious Death of Mr. Darcy. She also writes Regency romances: The Scandal of Lady Eleanor, A Touch of Velvet, A Touch of Cashémere, A Touch of Grace, A Touch of Mercy, A Touch of Love and The First Wives’ Club. A Time Warner Star Teacher and Martha Holden Jennings Scholar, Jeffers often serves as a consultant in language arts and media literacy. Currently living outside Charlotte, North Carolina, she spends her time with her writing, gardening, and her adorable grandson.

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Do You Remember? Ingrid Bergman’s Fall from Movie Royalty

This is second installment of my new series: Do You Remember? Tell me, do you recall the extramarital affair with nearly destroyed Ingrid Bergman’s career? What do you think of how this affair shook out? Does it change how you feel about the actress? Leave your comments below.

Bergman had once played the role of “Joan of Arc,” and in the court of public opinion she was “burned at the stake” for the scandal of her infidelity: Ingrid Bergman, wife and mother and beloved movie star, had begun an affair with the Italian avant-garde film director Roberto Rossellini, who was also married at the time.

The Players: Lindstrom, Bergman, and Rossellini

The Players: Lindstrom, Bergman, and Rossellini

Swedish-born Bergman had a married Petter Lindstrom, a much older dentist-turned-neurosurgeon, and had had a child, a daughter named Pia. She had attracted notice in several Swedish films, and David O. Selznick, the producer of Gone with the Wind, had flown to Sweden to bring Bergman to Hollywood to co-star with Leslie Howard in Intermezzo. (The Hairpin) Selznick assumed control of Bergman’s career, casting her in a series of box-office hits: Casablanca (1942); For Whom the Bells Toll (1943); Gaslight (1944), for which she won an Oscar; and Spellbound and The Bells of St. Mary’s (1945). In America, through her films, Bergman earned the reputation of the “virginal, good girl.”

After seeing Open City and prompted by Irene Selznick, “in the late ’40s, Bergman wrote an adorable letter to Italian Neo-Realist director Roberto Rossellini – a man known for womanizing…and wearing sunglasses when most people in America were still squinting into the sun.

Dear Roberto, I saw your films Open City and Paisan, and enjoyed them very much. If you need a Swedish actress who speaks English very well, who has not forgotten her German, who is not very understandable in French, and who in Italian knows only “ti amo,” I am read to come and make a film with you.  - Ingrid Bergman” (The Hairpin)

Rossellini cabled her: “I just received with great emotion your letter which happens to arrive on the anniversary of my birthday as the most precious gift. It is absolutely true that I dreamed to make a film with you…” (Memories, February/March 1989) Bergman and Rossellini met in Paris in 1948 to speak on her starring in Stromboli, the first of seven ill-fated films the pair would make together.

All seemed fine whe Rossellini, Bergman, and Lindstrom came together for the 1948 screening of the film. When Rossellini called upon the Lindstroms, Bergman put down a 30 foot red carpet before her house to welcome the director.

All seemed fine whe Rossellini, Bergman, and Lindstrom came together for the 1948 screening of the film. When Rossellini called upon the Lindstroms, Bergman put down a 30 foot red carpet before her house to welcome the director.

Immediately, Rossellini replaced his previous lover, Anna Magnani, with Bergman for the lead role in his next film Stromboli. Rumors say Rossellini had made a bet with a friend he could bed Bergman within two weeks. There are also reports that the affair started when Rossellini stayed with the Lindstroms in Hollywood, but the affair became more obvious once the pair was on set in Italy.

Bergman denied the rumors of a pregnancy to gossip columnist of the day, Hedda Hopper. Less than a week later, Hopper’s rival Louella Parsons confirmed the pregnancy. Hopper was so angry about being scooped by her arch rival that she lambasted Bergman often and most thoroughly in her columns. Ed Sullivan, who produced and hosted the biggest show on television during this time, refused to permit Bergman on his show. Denunciations came from the Vatican. The actress was also denounced on the floor of the U. S. Senate  by Senator Edwin C. Johnson of Colorado as a “powerful influence for evil.” He continued by saying, “If out of the degradation associated with Stromboli, decency and common sense can be established in Hollywood, Ingrid Bergman will not have destroyed her career for naught. Out of her ashes may come a better Hollywood.” (The Hairpin) Once the affair became public knowledge, Bergman was shunned by Hollywood and was “forced” to leave the United States. She also lost the rights to her only child, 10-year-old Pia. The international press followed Bergman and Rossellini everywhere, reporting of their “vacation” on a remote island off the Italian coast only two weeks after her arrival in Italy for filming. The contrast between Bergman’s husband Lindstrom, who was described as plain spoken, strict and religious, to the flamboyant, poised and charming Rossellini was the text of any good romantic affair.

Bergman and Rossellini

Bergman and Rossellini

The 2 May 1949 issue of Life magazine ran a photo of the pair holding hands and the headline “Stombolian Idyl.” The Motion Picture Association of America reportedly cabled Bergman to warn her that her behavior would destroy her acting career. Instead of taking the caution to heart, Bergman and Rossellini flaunted their affair during the summer’s filming schedule. Lindstrom had no means of contacting his wife because of the lack of phones on the island. He learned of the affair in the newsprint. Lindstrom wrote his wife and begged her to show discretion, but she answered with words of finally discovering her love and her people. Years later, Bergman claimed her marriage was already in tatters before the affair began.

“As the attacks in the press and in Hollywood mounted, she concluded that she had to abandon her career, as well as her husband. At a press conference in Rome on 5 August, she released a statement: ‘Persistent malicious gossip that has even reached the point where I am made to appear as a prisoner has obliged me to break my silence and demonstrate my free will. I have instructed my lawyer to start divorce proceedings immediately. Also, with the conclusion of the picture it is my intention to retire from private life.” (Memories)

Unable to marry in Italy after her Mexican divorce, she and Rossellini married by proxy in Mexico on 24 May 1950, three months after Robertino had been born. Two years later, Bergman bore Rossellini their twin girls, Isabella and Ingrid. Between the two pregnancies, Stromboli was released to poor reviews and poor attendance. Rossellini would not permit her to take roles in the films of other directors, and so a string of forgettable flicks were produced. Bergman said of the period, “The world hated the Rossellini version of me, so nothing worked. It was something we did not talk about. But the silences between us grew longer.” (Brunette, Peter. Roberto Rossellini. Berkeley:  University of California Press,  c1996 1996.

Their marriage was annulled in 1956. Bergman then traveled to England to make Anastasia, a role which won her her second Oscar. In 1957, she won acclaim for her role in the Paris version of Tea and Sympathy. Bergman’s career was rekindled from the ashes. In 1958, she married Swedish producer Lars Schmidt. At this time, she permitted her children from Rossellini to return to their father in Rome. She won her third Oscar for best supporting actress in 1974′s Murder on the Orient Express. Bergman fought a courageous battle with breast cancer for eight years. She died on her 67th birthday on 29 August 1982.



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Literary References in Jane Austen’s “Persuasion”

Literary References in Persuasion

Henry Austen in “A Biographical Notice of the Author,” said of his sister, “Short and easy will be the task of the mere biographer. A life of usefulness, literature, and religion, was not by any means a life of event.”

Jane Austen’s last novel is less “light” than her earlier efforts. Anne Elliot is more unhappy and constrained than the likes of Elizabeth Bennet or the Dashwood sisters. Anne certainly is no Cinderella figure. She is too rich and too well placed in Society to be a sympathetic figure, but somehow Austen creates just such a character.

Anne is reminiscent of Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, except that Anne lacks Miss Eyre’s sharp tongue. Anne’s personality is visible only to Austen’s readers, those who share Anne’s literary mind and understand the references in the story. Persuasion reflects Jane Austen’s very “typical education.” She had improved her mind by extensive reading. Her audience would also have been aware of her references, but modern audiences are less likely to do so. Below are some of the those points of greatness found in Austen’s last novel.

In reading Persuasion, an Austen fan must have a background in the literature of the time period. For example, the story begins with a reference to John Debrett’s Baronetage of England, which was published in 1808. That is quickly followed by a reference to Sir William Dugdale’s catalogue of Seventeenth Century nobility. Both mentions set the stage for Sir Walter’s vanity.

In Volume 1, Chapter 11, Austen says, “… the woody varieties of the cheerful village of Up Lyme, and above all, Pinny, wiht its green chasms between romantic rocks ….” Likely, Austen was “borrowing” from Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “Kubla Khan,” in which the Romantic Period poet spoke of “deep romantic chasm” (1. 12) and “dancing rocks” (1. 23). At the end of the same chapter, Anne and Captain Benwick discuss his poetry choices. There are references to Sir Walter Scott’s “Marmion: A Tale of Flooden Field” (1808) and “The Lady of the Lake: A Poem” (1810). George Gordon’s (Lord Byron) receives a mention for “The Giaour: A Fragment of a Turkish Tale” (1813) and “The Bride of Abydos: A Turkish Tale” (1813). Bryon’s works were much talked about at the time of Austen’s writing her novel.

In Volume 1, Chapter 12, there is another Byron reference. “Lord Byron’s ‘dark blue seas’ could not fail of being brought forward ….” This is a reference to Bryon’s “Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage,” Canto 2, Stanza 17 (1812). At the end of Chapter 12, one finds an allusion to Matthew Prior’s poem “Henry and Emma.” Austen says, “Without emulating the feelings of an Emma towards her Henry, she would have attended on Louisa ….” Prior’s poem is based on the traditional ballad “The Nut-Brown Maid.” The poem “Henry and Emma” tells the story of a girl who proves her selfless love by extending her devotion to the woman she considers to be her rival.

From Volume 2, Chapter 3, one finds the quote, “The elegant little clock on the mantle-piece had struck ‘eleven with its silver sounds,’” to describe Mr. Elliot’s late visit to Camden-place. This is likely a reference to Alexander Pope’s “The Rape of the Lock,” canto 1, line 18 (1714).

In Volume 2, Chapter 8, Austen adds to the story line with a mention of a character from Fanny Burney’s Cecilia. “She could not do so, without comparing herself with Miss Larolles, the inimitable Miss Larolles ….” In the 1782 novel, the character seats herself at theatrical performances in a manner where she might “cultivate” those in her vicinity.

Finally, in the opening paragraph of Volume 2, Chapter 11, Austen makes a reference to The Arabian Nights or The Thousand and One Nights. “Her faith was plighted, and Mr. Elliot’s character, like the Sultaness Scheherazade’s head, must live another day.” Scheherazade kept her head by telling the legendary king of Samarkand a new tale every night.

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The Lovely World of the English Language ~ Why Do People Speak as They Do?

UnknownIn late February, I included a post on idioms and word play. It was a huge success, so I thought to revisit the format.

“Aboveboard” – No, this one has nothing to do with ships or sailing. Actually, it comes to us from those who attempt to fleece others with their skills of dexterity with cards or magic tricks. Those who practice to deceive place their hands “Under” the table (or “board”) to prepare their tricks. Therefore, “aboveboard” has come to mean to be without guise.

“To bone up,” as with one’s studies comes to us from the publishing of “trots” from the publishing firm known as Bohn. The “trots” were to assist students in passing their Greek and Latin courses. Therefore, to “Bohn up” was to study. Naturally, the word was changed to “bone.”

“Exchequer” comes into the English language from the Old French word (eschequier) for a chess  board. During the reign of Edward I of England, the King’s revenues were collected and overseen by a special court. This court used a checkered table cloth to cover the table upon which the revenues were displayed. Therefore, the court was to be called the “exchequer.”

“Mother Earth” comes to us from a legend retold from the time of the Romans. Supposedly Tarquinius’s two sons, along with Junius Brutus asked the Delphic Oracle which of them would succeed to the Roman throne. The oracle responded as oracles always do, with a riddle: He who shall first kiss his mother. Tarquinius’s two sons raced home to place a kiss upon their mother, but Junius Brutus fell to his knees and kissed the ground upon which he walked. “Thus I kiss thee, oh Earth, great mother of all.” Needless to say, which of the three became the king.

“Damask or Damascene” – In the eleventh and twelfth centuries, the weavers of Damascus brought the production of silken textiles to the pinnacle of rich designs. With colors woven into the pattern, these fabrics became the choice of nobles. English weavers called the fabrics damask after the city of origin of the cloth. There was also a blush-colored rose from Damascus which bore the name of damask. Shakespeare and others spoke of “fair ladies with damask cheeks.”

“Foyer” – In what were often less than pristine theatres of a century and a half prior, the audience was often met with “bitter cold.” Therefore, between acts, they rose and walked about to warm up. In the entrance hall of the theatre, one could also find a fire in the hearth. The actors congregated around a similar hearth in what is known as the greenroom. In French, the word for hearth is foyer. Eventually, the word included the hall in which the hearth was located.

“Maudlin”- The origin of this word is found in the miracle plays of the late 13th to 16th centuries in England. The plays were based on a Biblical miracle story line or a story based on the life of a saint. They were initially produced by English religious houses, but eventually became the product of the various guild halls. Many of the favorite story lines dealt with the life of Christ, and Mary Magdalen was one of the chief characters of the tales. The French name, Madelaine, became the English “Magdalen,” which was pronounced (and often spelled) as “Maudlin.” Magdalen College, Oxford, and Magdalen College, Cambridge, are pronounced thusly. Therefore, maudlin came to mean a state of tears.

“On Velvet” – It is stated in the Wardrobe Accounts of Edward II that the British King had a kerchief of velvet (l courerchief de veluett). From the 1300s of Edward II’s time through the late 1500s, velvet was an expensive fabric. Therefore, to possess any fabric of velvet was a sign of prosperity. Edmund Burke, as Premier, in 1769, stated “who is always on velvet” lacks knowledge of difficulties.

“In One Ear and Out the Other” – The earliest English language reference come from a John Calvin sermon “upon Deuteronomie.” An English translator, Arthur Golding (who translated 30 works from Latin to English), gave us the following translation of Calvin’s work: “goes in one eare and out at the other.”

“Here’s Mud in Your Eye” – This one is not a toast to good health. In truth, its origins can be found in horse racing. If the track is muddy, the losing rider is likely to be covered in the mud of all those ahead of him. The phrase means: “I hope I win over you.”

“To Be a Piker” – Nowadays, the phrase means to be a gambler and a poor loser. This is an American term dating back about 150 years. Likely, it comes from the War of 1812 and Colonel Zebulon M. Pike. Pike’s regiment, ironically, often drilled with a pike in hand instead of a bayonet. A second source could be from Pike County, Missouri. Supposedly, those from the area who were lazy and uninspiring were referred to as Pikes or pikers.


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