Do You Remember When? A Pin-Up Became a Princess…

2186In the 1940s and 1950s, there was no one “hotter” that Rita Hayworth. With a reserved striptease in the film Gilda, Hayworth became every man’s fantasy. Who could believe in today’s age of near nudity upon every screen that a simple slow peel of arm-length black gloves could be so enticing? Later, Hayworth was reported as saying, “Every man I’ve ever known has fallen in love with Gilda and awakened with me.” (Do you recall Julia Roberts paraphrasing the quote when she is in bed with Hugh Grant in Notting Hill?) 

Hayworth’s pin up poster – the one of her kneeling on a bed in a black lace negligee – became the mainstay of American servicemen during World War II.

Born Margarita Carmen Cansino (the daughter of flamenco dancers) in Brooklyn, NY, Hayworth joined her father as his dancing partner at age 13. With her hair dyed black to emphasize her Latino roots, Rita and her father in performances in Mexican nightclubs in the Los Angeles area. Her parents neglected Rita’s education, and this lack of knowledge increased her insecurities as she matured.

At age 18, she married for the first time to a man named Edward Judson, a man some 20 years her senior. He was a small time wheeler-dealer and used car salesman. Judson was the one, however, to assist Hayworth with an introduction to Harry Cohn, the head of Columbia Pictures. Cohn signed Hayworth to a 7-year movie contract – a contract which required her to slim down her figure, to lighten her hair, and to change her name from “Margarita” to “Rita,” as well as to take the name “Hayworth” from her Irish mother’s surname. ritacolor2

Her first role of any significance came in a supporting role with Cary Grant in 1939′s Only Angels Have Wings. That role was followed by those of an ingenue in Cover Girl, as a terpsichore in You Were Never Lovelier, and the role which became her film signature, the one of Gilda. Her sensuous “Put the Blame on Mame,” which was dubbed by Anita Ellis, was an instant hit upon the music charts.

with Glenn Ford in "Gilda"

with Glenn Ford in “Gilda”

Her marriage to Judson was dissolved in 1943. That relationship was followed by one with Orson Welles. They wed in the fall of 1943. Welles elevated Hayworth’s image from seductress to leading lady by directing her in Lady from Shanghai. Welles co-starred with his wife; they were dubbed as Beauty and the Brain. However, Hayworth was to discover Welles true love was his work. In 1947, she told the press. “I’m tired of being a 25% wife.” Shortly afterwards, she left for the French Riviera with her daughter Rebecca.

Lady from Shanghai

Lady from Shanghai

There, she was introduced to Prince Aly Khan, a man a bit obsessed with the “Gilda” image. They began an affair, which became the fodder of the tabloids. In May 1948 (after both Hayworth and Khan had divorced), they were to have been married at Chateau de L’Horizon, Khan’s seaside villa in the south of France. In reality, they were married at city hall in Vallauris because French law could not be bent even for a prince. Aly placed a 32-carat diamond upon Hayworth’s hand. L’Horizon hosted the reception.

Hayworth soon gave birth to Princess Yasmin, but in April 1951, the couple separated. As it had been with Welles, Aly’s business and social duties kept the “princess” from knowing happiness. Hayworth said after the separation became final, “I have concluded that a happy and contented home life, which I earnestly desire for my children and myself, is otherwise unattainable.” The couple fought openly for the custody of Yasmin, but in 1953, Aly agreed to a $1.5 million settlement in a default divorce. Seven years later, Aly died in a car accident when his Alfa Romeo piled into a tree. He was dead at age 49.

Two more marriages followed. The first to singer Dick Haymes and then to producer/writer James H. Hill Jr. Her last major role for Columbia Pictures was as a stripper-turned-socialite opposite Frank Sinatra in Pay Joey (1957). That role was followed by critic favorites, Separate Tables (1958) and They Came to Cordura (1959).

Second-rate films peppered her filmography during the 1960s and by the 1970s there were rumors of drunkenness. She was replaced as the lead in the Broadway production of Applause because she could not remember her lines. She walked off sets of movies. Her behavior became quite irrational. Finally, the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s proved the alcoholism a mistaken assumption. Rita Hayworth died at age 68 in May 1987.

dancing with Fred Astaire

dancing with Fred Astaire

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The Princess Royal’s Not So Happy Life

The Princess Royal’s Not So Happy Life

As we watched Kate Middleton marry into the Royal Family, people kept saying things that made the life of a princess seem “ideal,” but we who have studied the Regency Period can name six princesses who knew nothing of the glam and glamour of being named “princess.” The Princess Royal, Charlotte Augusta Matilda, was the oldest of those.

The infant Charlotte in the arms of her mother, Queen Charlotte

George III and Queen Charlotte beget a total of 15 children: nine sons and six daughters. Life in the royal household was anything but ideal. Reportedly, the boys were often beaten for the least infraction, but they also had their “freedom.” So, despite George III’s “whip hand,” the king’s sons were given money and their own residences, some receiving these liberties as early as age eleven. The King’s daughters, however, were kept at home under the watchful eye of both parents. The diarist, Fanny Burney, wrote, “Never in tale or fable were there six sister Princesses more lovely.” However, late marriages and spinsterhood plagued all six.

One of the issues that kept the daughters out of the marriage ring was their parents’ insistence that the girls marry men whose politics aligned with the King and Queen’s. Therefore, the princesses were rarely out in Society. Obviously, the girls could not be seen dancing with someone of the Whigs party. Only the daughters of loyal Tories were ever invited to Windsor. Queen Charlotte remained quite adamant in that matter.

Princess Charlotte in 1769

Most experts agree that Queen Charlotte’s allegiance to her husband doomed the girls. Although King George III loved his daughters, he did not want them to marry. Repots say that before he went mad in 1788 that the King apologized to his daughters for not finding them appropriate husbands. The King’s madness and the French Revolution kept the girls at home until their mother’s watchful eye. Queen Charlotte feared her husband’s illness may have passed to her children, and she watched them carefully for early signs of the disease.

Several hopefuls applied for the girls, but each was turned away. Charlotte Augusta Matilda, the oldest of the daughters and known as the Princess Royal to distinguish her from her mother, was two and twenty when her father displayed signs of his madness in 1788. No talk of marriage was possible during these trying times. However, when the King took a turn for the better in 1789, the royal court received new offers of marriage. Denmark, Brunswick, Wurttemberg, and Orange sent inquiries, but the King continued to turn down all offers.

The Prince of Wales attempted to arrange a marriage for the Princess Royal to the heir to the Duke of Oldenburg, but those plans were thwarted. Finally, when Charlotte was nine and twenty, the Hereditary Prince of Wurttemberg approached her father about a possible match. Immensely fat, the Prince was no great prize. He was forty when they married. He had been married previously, and after bearing an illegitimate child in Russia, his wife had died under “suspicious” circumstances. The former Princess of Wurttemberg had been George III’s niece, daughter to his sister Augusta, Duchess of Brunswick. Therefore, King George insisted on clearing the Prince’s name before he would allow his daughter to marry the man.

Frederick I of Wurttemberg

On 18 May 1797 (after the Prince had been cleared), the Princess Royal, age 30, and her groom, Prince Frederick, who had turned forty, were finally permitted to marry. Princess Charlotte left England, never to see her dear father again. Charlotte was happy in her new home, and although her only child was stillborn, she gladly became stepmother to her husband’s four children. Prince Frederick succeeded his father as the reigning Duke of Wurttemberg on 22 December 1797. Charlotte courageously faced the ravages of the European continent during the Napoleonic era. Having previously fled the French several times, Charlotte received the conquering Napoleon with dignity when he marched into Wurttemberg in 1805. Duke Frederick ceded Montbeliard to France before assuming the titled of Elector of Wurttemberg, but Napoleon named Frederick King of Wurttemberg on 26 December 1805. Electress Charlotte became Queen on 1 January 1806. The action further alienated the former Princess Royal from her English family. Wurttemberg had joined Napoleon’s short-lived Confederation of the Rhine, which made the country an enemy of England and George III.

Queen Charlotte of Wurttemberg

To reciprocate, the new Queen arranged a match between her stepdaughter Catherine and Napoleon’s brother Jerome, which made Catherine queen of the new Kingdom of Westphalia. Toward the end of 1813, with Napoleon’s losses, Wurttemberg changed sides in the continuing conflict. In 1814, George IV invited his sister Charlotte to England for the victory celebrations, but Frederick refused to permit his wife to go. Frederick remained affronted by his wife’s family abandonment. Charlotte pretended an illness rather than to embarrass all involved with her refusal to attend.


When Frederick died in 1816, Charlotte maintained that she had been happy with the man. To honor her marriage vows, she wore black for the rest of her days. The Dowager Queen of Wurttemberg lived out her days in Stuttgart. Occasionally, she hosted visits from her brothers, the Duke of Kent, the Duke of Sussex, and the Duke of Cambridge, as well as Princess Augusta Sophia. By proxy, she was godmother to her niece, Princess Victoria of Kent, the future Queen Victoria. The year before she died in 1828, she returned to England for surgery for dropsy. Unfortunately, for her sisters, Charlotte’s successful marriage did nothing for their own prospects. The King and Queen used the dangers in which Charlotte found herself during the Napoleonic era as reason not to permit her sisters of making an appropriate match.

Posted in British history, George IV, Georgian Era, Great Britain, Living in the Regency, political stance, real life tales, Regency era | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Victorian Astonomer, Francis Baily

150px-Francis_Baily_(The_Royal_Astronomical_Society) Francis Baily (28 April 1774 – 30 August 1844) was an English astronomer, most famous for his observations of ‘Baily’s beads’ during an eclipse of the Sun.

Baily was born at Newbury in Berkshire in 1774 to Richard Baily. After a tour in the unsettled parts of North America in 1796–1797, his journal of which was edited by Augustus de Morgan in 1856, Baily entered the London Stock Exchange in 1799. The successive publication of Tables for the Purchasing and Renewing of Leases (1802), of The Doctrine of Interest and Annuities (1808), and The Doctrine of Life-Annuities and Assurances (1810), earned him a high reputation as a writer on life-contingencies; he amassed a fortune through diligence and integrity and retired from business in 1825, to devote himself wholly to astronomy.

Astronomical Work
By 1820, Baily had already taken a leading part in the foundation of the Royal Astronomical Society, and he received its Gold Medal in 1827 for his preparation of the Society’s Catalogue of 2881 Stars (Memoirs R. Astr. Soc. ii.). Later, in 1843, he would win the Gold Medal again. He was elected as president of the society for four consecutive two-year terms prior to his death.

The reform of the Nautical Almanac in 1829 was set on foot by his protests. He was elected a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1832. He recommended to the British Association in 1837, and in great part executed, the reduction of Joseph de Lalande’s and Nicolas de Lacaille’s catalogues containing about 57,000 stars; he superintended the compilation of the British Association’s Catalogue of 8377 stars (published 1845); and revised the catalogues of Tobias Mayer, Ptolemy, Ulugh Beg, Tycho Brahe, Edmund Halley and Hevelius (Memoirs R. Astr. Soc. iv, xiii.).

His observations of “Baily’s Beads,” during an annular eclipse of the sun on 15 May 1836, at Inch Bonney in Roxburghshire, started the modern series of eclipse expeditions. The phenomenon, which depends upon the irregular shape of the moon’s limb, was so vividly described by him as to attract an unprecedented amount of attention to the total eclipse of 8 July 1842, observed by Baily himself at Pavia.

220px-Solar_eclips_1999_6Baily’s Beads
In other work, he completed and discussed H. Foster’s pendulum experiments, deducing from them an ellipticity for the earth of 1/289.48 (Memoirs R. Astr. Soc. vii.). This value was corrected for the length of the seconds-pendulum by introducing a neglected element of reduction, and was used, in 1843, in the reconstruction of the standards of length. His laborious operations for determining the mean density of the earth, carried out by Henry Cavendish’s method (1838–1842), yielded the authoritative value of 5.66.

Baily died in London on 30 August 1844 and was buried in the family vault in St Mary’s Church in Thatcham. His Account of the Rev. John Flamsteed (1835) is of fundamental importance to the scientific history of that time. It included a republication of the British Catalogue.

The lunar crater Baily was named in his honour, as was the rigid and thermally insensitive alloy used to cast the 1855 standard yard (Baily’s metal, 16 parts copper, 2.5 parts tin, 1 part zinc).

Posted in British history, Great Britain, Living in the UK, real life tales, science, Victorian era | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Pride 47 – Prejudice 5

Pride and Prejudice was originally entitled First Impressions, which is a much better title when one considers how Jane Austen bombards her readers with the theme of “impressions”: first, flawed, and founded. However, that is material for a future post.

JeffersVDDWhat I would like to consider today is why did the publishers deem it necessary to change the title to Pride and Prejudice? There are several among my friends, who have had title changes at their publishers’ suggestions. For example, I have seen Wayward Love changed to Captain Wentworth’s Persuasion; Darcy’s Dream to Darcy’s Temptation; Darcy’s Hunger to Vampire Darcy’s Desire, and most recently, A Touch of Gold to The Scandal of Lady Eleanor. Changing titles is a common practice among publishing companies.ladyeleanorsmall

Can one imagine the conversation between Thomas Egerton Publishers and Jane Austen?
Egerton: Miss Austen, we believe the reading public would respond to a title change.
Austen: Are you implying that I must add the word Darcy or Pemberley to the title to sell books?
Egerton: No, that will not be necessary for another 200 years.
Austen: (in awe) Do you expect my works to survive and become part of the British literary canon?
Egerton: Of course, not. You are a female. We will be fortunate to sell a few hundred copies, Miss Austen.
Austen: (a bit disconcerted by his condescending tone) But my book is about misconstruing others – of the weakness of making judgments based on first impressions.
Egerton: (ignoring her objection) We will follow the pattern of your first publication. Sense and Sensibility will be followed by Pride and Prejudice. It will give you a “hook” to capture your readers. Now, if you will sign the contract, we can begin publication.

But why did Austen’s publishers choose those two words: pride and prejudice? Was it to stimulate a debate among those who wonder whether it was Darcy or Elizabeth who was prideful? Who acted with prejudice? College professors base entire semesters on just that concept. Or, perhaps, it was how often those two words are found in Austen’s text: The publishers’ belief that such repetition would create resonance and “connectiveness.”
The word “pride” appears seven and forty times in the text. One of my favorite uses of the word occurs in, “Vanity and pride are different things, though the words are often used synonymously.” I am also found of, “With what delightful pride she afterward visited Mrs. Bingley, and talked of Mrs. Darcy, may be guessed.”

“Prided” is used but once, as is “proudly” and “proudest.” Meanwhile, “proud” is used one and twenty times. “Some may call him proud, but I am sure I never saw anything of it,” is spoken by Mrs. Reynolds. Later in the story, Elizabeth considers Darcy’s actions in dealing with Wickham. “For herself, she was humbled; but she was proud of him – proud that in a cause of compassion and honor he had been able to get the better of himself.”

“Prejudiced” is found once in the text; “prejudices” is used twice, and “prejudice” appears five times. “The general prejudice against Mr. Darcy is so violent, that it would be the death of half the good people in Meryton to attempt to place him in an amiable light.”

darcystemptationsmallWhen I originally entitled my second book Darcy’s Dreams, I did so because I mimicked Austen’s repetition. I used the word “dream” seven and fifty times in the book. When Ulysses Press added the word “temptation” to attract readers, I made a mad scramble to add temptation to the manuscript. The process made me wonder if Austen did the same thing with pride and prejudice. Although I know it’s an illogical assumption, I like to imagine our dear Jane adding those two words as motifs within her text and also imagine her grumbling, just as I did with temptation.captainwentworthspersuasionsmall

Posted in British history, editing, Industry News/Publishing, Jane Austen, language choices, Regency era | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

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

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.

245px-Richard_WellesleyAs 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.

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