Thomas Heyward, Jr., Patriotic Songwriter and Signer of the Declaration of Independence

heywardINHP225x298Thomas Heyward was born in St. Luke’s parish, on July 28, 1746, in the province of Old House, Beaufort Count, South Carolina. His father, Colonel Daniel Heyward, was a planter of great wealth, which he had chiefly acquired by his industry. He became the husband of Elizabeth Matthews, by whom he sired Daniel Heyward. Later, he married Elizabeth Savage, by whom he sired James, Thomas, and Elizabeth Heyward. 

Unlike many gentlemen of fortune, Mr. Heyward did not appear to idolize his possessions; at least, convinced of the importance of intellectual cultivation, he determined to bestow upon his son all the advantages which a thorough education might impart. Accordingly, the best school in the province was selected for young Heyward, who, by his diligence, became well acquainted with the Latin language, and with such other branches as were at that time taught in the most respectable provincial seminaries.

Having finished his scholastic studies, be entered the law office of a Mr. Parsons, a gentleman who at that time was distinguished for his professional learning and practical skill. On accomplishing the usual term of study, young Mr. Heyward, according to the fashion adopted by families of fortune, was sent to England to complete his legal preparation. He was entered as a student in one of the Inns of Court. Although he had in expectancy a large fortune, he devoted himself with great ardor to the study of law, emulating the diligence of those who expected to derive their subsistence from the practice of the profession.

On completing his studies in England, he commenced the tour of Europe, which occupied him several years. This was an advantage which be enjoyed beyond most of the youth of the colonies. He enjoyed a rare opportunity of contrasting the industry and simplicity of his countrymen, with the indolence, and luxury, and licentiousness, the pride and haughtiness, so prevalent on the old continent.

At length, satisfied with the observations which be had made of men and manners abroad, he returned to his native country to practice law. 

In 1775,  Heyward was elected to fill a vacancy in congress, occasioned by the recall of the distinguished John Rutledge, whose presence was required at home to assist in defending the state against a threatened invasion. At first, Heyward declined. He was, at length, induced to accept, and arrived in Philadelphia in time for the argument for American independence.

In the year 1778, Heyward was appointed a judge of the criminal courts of the new government. Soon after his elevation to the bench, he presided over a treasonable act, one where several people corresponded with the British army, which, at that time, was in the vicinity of Charleston. The treason resulted in the execution of all involved. 

In the spring of 1780, General Clinton seized the city of Charleston. Judge Heyward, who commanded a battalion was taken a prisoner of war. As he had been one of the leaders of the revolution, he and several others were transported to St. Augustine, while the other prisoners were confined on board some prison ships in the harbour of Charleston. During his absence, he suffered greatly in respect to his property; marauders robbed him and destroyed his home. His slaves were seized and carried away. Some of his slaves were afterwards reclaimed; but one hundred and thirty were lost, being transported to the sugar plantations on the island of Jamaica.

According to Denise Kiernan and Joseph D’Agnest in Signing Their Lives Away: The Fame and Misfortune of the Men Who Signed the Declaration of Independence (Quirk Books, 2009, page 217), “While imprisoned, Heyward occupied his mind by writing songs. Imagine, then, that the sun begins to rise off the coast of Florida on the morning of 4 July 1781. Unshaven and dressed in rags, Heyward and his fellow signers stand to face the new day on the fifth anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence. As the British guards try to silence them, they stand on crude bunks and belt out a tune Heyward has crafted in prison. The melody is taken from “God Save the King,” the British National Anthem. But the words have been changed to something far more American. One version of the song, entitled “God Save the Thirteen States,” begins: 

God save the Thirteen States!

Long rule the United States!

God save our States!

Make us victorious,

Happy and glorious;

No tyrants over us; 

God save our States! “

Judge Heyward, and his fellow prisoners at St. Augustine, were eventually returned to Philadelphia. On his passage, he fell overboard and had to save himself or drown.

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Heyward-Washington House | Charleston Area CVB http://www.charlestoncvb.com

On returning to Carolina, he resumed his judicial duties until 1798. During this interval, he acted as a member of a convention for forming the state constitution, in 1790. In the following year, he retired from all public labors and cares, except those which were attached to his commission as judge.

Judge Heyward died in March 1809, in the sixty-fourth year of his age.

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Thomas Heyward, Jr.

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Thomas Heyward, Jr. grave marker

Sources: 

Beaufort County Library 

Colonial Hall

Find a Grave

Geni.com

Rev. Charles A. Goodrich, Lives of the Signers to the Declaration of Independence. New York: William Reed & Co., 1856. Pages 440-443.

Heyward-Washington House 

Society for the Descendants of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence 

Wikipedia 

Posted in American History, British history, Declaration of Independence, Georgian England, history | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey ~ Tudor Poet

henryhBorn in Hunsdon, Hertfordshire, in 1517, Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, was the eldest of Thomas Howard and Lady Elizabeth Stafford’s children. Surrey was of royal descent on both the paternal and the maternal sides of his family. He received an excellent education under John Clark. He learned Latin, Italian, Spanish, and French. Earl of Surrey was his courtesy title, bestowed when his father became the 3rd Duke of Norfolk. He was an early companion to Henry VII’s illegitimate son, Henry Fitzroy, Duke of Richmond.

Surrey accompanied his first cousin Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII, and Fitzroy to France as part of a consultation between England and Francis I, King of France. He returned to England for the marriage of Richmond to Surrey’s sister. He was present in 1533 for the coronation of Anne Boleyn.

At the age of 15, Surrey married Lady Frances de Vere (daughter of the Earl of Oxford) in 1532, but they did not live together until 1535 because they were too young. His first son, Thomas, was born in March 1536. In the same year, his cousin Anne Boleyn was tried for treason and executed. Tragedy struck again when Henry Fitzroy died in July at the age of seventeen. Fitzroy was not only Surrey’s friend, but also his brother in marriage, having married Mary Howard. October of 1536 saw his father subduing the Pilgrimage of Grace rebellion, which protested against the King’s dissolution of the monasteries. Surrey served with his father in this action.

The Howards were strong supports of the Tudors, but the knew difficulties at court when Jane Seymour became queen in 1536. In 1537, the Seymours, a rival faction at court, accused the Howards of holding sympathies with those involved in the Pilgrimage of Grace. Surrey was imprisoned at Windsor when he struck a member of the court for repeating the slander expressed against his family. Surrey’s poem, “Prisoned in Windsor,” relates his boyhood days at Windsor with Fitzroy. He was released later in the year, and served as a mourner in Jane Seymour’s funeral.

Surrey was back in court favor by 1540. He reportedly sported well in the jousts held in honor of Anne of Cleves marriage to Henry VIII.  He was made Knight of the Garter in May 1541 and steward of the University of Cambridge in September. Being honored so was not enough to keep his reputation spotless. He was twice imprisoned in Fleet Prison, once for quarreling with another of Henry’s courtiers and another time for a drunken riot that destroyed property. While in Fleet Prison, he composed his “Satire Against the Citizens of London.”

Finally released from Fleet, he served Henry VII in Flanders in an effort to take control of the Netherlands with the English army on the side of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V.
In a letter to Henry VIII, the emperor commended Surreys “gentil cueur.” In  1544, Surrey return to England with a wound suffered at the siege of Montreuil  but was back in France at the head of a company of 5,000 men in Calais. In 1545 he became Commander of Guisnes and Commander of the garrison of Boulogne. After several skirmishes and a defeat at the battle at St. Etienne in 1546, Surrey was replaced in the post by his longtime adversary Edward Seymour, Lord Hertford (later Duke of Somerset).

215px-Henry_Howard_Earl_of_Surrey_1546_detailSurrey erred greatly by promoting his father’s position as Protector to young Prince Edward when Henry VIII’s health was failing in 1546. “The Seymours finally had their day, when Surrey ill-advisedly displayed royal quarterings on his shield. Arrested along with his father on charges of treason, he was imprisoned in the Tower. Several additional claims were made against him, including that he was secretly a papist. Surrey was indicted of high treason in January 1547, despite the lack of any real evidence, condemned, and executed (beheaded) on January 19, 1547, on Tower Hill. He was buried in the church of All Hallows Barking, but was later reinterred in the church of Framlingham, Suffolk. His second son Henry, Earl of Northampton, erected a magnificent tomb for him there in 1614. Surrey’s father, the Duke of Norfolk, remained in prison throughout the reign of King Edward VI, but was released when Queen Mary took the throne. Henry Howard’s first son, Thomas Howard, succeeded his grandfather to the title of Duke of Norfolk in 1553.

“Surrey continued in Sir Thomas Wyatt’s footsteps on the English sonnet form.  Wyatt and Surrey, both often titled “father of the English sonnet”, established the form that was later used by Shakespeare and others: three quatrains and a couplet, with a rhyme scheme of abab cdcd efef gg. Surrey was also the first English poet to publish in blank verse, in his translation of part of Virgil’s Aeneid. Book 4 was published in 1554 and Book 2 in 1557.

“Surrey’s poetry circulated in manuscript form at court. He published his  “Epitaph on Sir Thomas Wyatt, but most of his poetry first appeared in 1557, ten years after his death, in printer Richard Tottel’s Songs and Sonnets written by the Right Honorable Lord Henry Howard late Earl of Surrey and other. Until modern times it was called simply Songs and Sonnets; but now it is generally known as Tottel’s Miscellany. Of the 271 poems in the collection, 40 were by Surrey, 96 by Wyatt, and the rest by various courtier poets. Sir  Philip Sidney lauded Surrey’s lyrics for “many things tasting of a noble birth, and worthy of a noble mind.” (Luminarium)

DESCRIPTION OF SPRING,

WHEREIN EVERY THING RENEWS, SAVE ONLY THE LOVER.

THE soote season, that bud and bloom forth brings,
With green hath clad the hill, and eke the vale.
The nightingale with feathers new she sings ;
The turtle to her make hath told her tale.

Summer is come, for every spray now springs,
The hart hath hung his old head on the pale;
The buck in brake his winter coat he slings ;
The fishes flete with new repairèd scale ;
The adder all her slough away she slings ;
The swift swallow pursueth the fliës smale ;
The busy bee her honey now she mings ;
Winter is worn that was the flowers’ bale.

And thus I see among these pleasant things
Each care decays, and yet my sorrow springs !

[In spring everything comes to life, says the poet, and “each care decays and yet my sorrow springs.”]

______________________

 

“Set me whereas the sun doth parch the green…”

Set me whereas the sun doth parch the green
Or where his beams do not dissolve the ice,
In temperate heat where he is felt and seen;
In presence prest of people, mad or wise;
Set me in high or yet in low degree,
In longest night or in the shortest day,
In clearest sky or where clouds thickest be,
In lusty youth or when my hairs are gray.
Set me in heaven, in earth, or else in hell;
In hill, or dale, or in the foaming flood;
Thrall or at large, alive whereso I dwell,
Sick or in health, in evil fame or good:
Hers will I be, and only with this thought
Content myself although my chance be nought.

[A woman bemoans her lover at sea, says that those who have their lovers at home are fortunate; and when the storm is over, she still worries as to whether he will visit her.]

____________________________

Criticism: Almost all the verses left by Surrey are regular and harmonious and though his nature was less energetic than Wyatt’s he was the better artist. He was dominated by the Petrarchan convention much more than was Sir Thomas Wyatt and sang in sonnets his imaginary love for Geraldine. Less directly influenced by the Italians than his master, he had a sure sense of what best befitted the poetry of his nation For the sonnet form used by Wyatt – two quatrains followed by two tercets, he substituted the form used later by Shakespeare. He introduced blank verse to English literature in his translation of the second and fourth books of the Aeneid

Resources:

The Anne Boleyn Files 

Classic Poems 

Poetry Foundation

Poets.org 

Sonnets.org 

Tudor Place 

Wikpedia 

 

Posted in British history, Great Britain, history, Tudors | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pre-Order “Angel Comes to the Devil’s Keep,” a New Regency Suspense from Regina Jeffers

AnAngelComes_LargeAngel Comes to the Devil’s Keep is now available for preorder. It is a romantic suspense from Black Opal Books, which is set in the Regency Period, and it is loaded with the twists and turns you expect from Regina Jeffers. Angel Comes to the Devil’s Keep is book one of the Twins’ Trilogy, to be followed by The Earl Claims His Comfort and Lady Chandler’s Sister

Back Cover: 

HUNTINGTON McLAUGHLIN, the Marquess of Malvern, wakes in a farmhouse, after a head injury, and being tended by an ethereal “angel,” who claims to be his wife. However, reality is often deceptive, and ANGELICA LOVELACE is far from innocent in Hunt’s difficulties. Yet, there is something about the woman that calls to him as no other ever has. When she attends his mother’s annual summer house party, their lives are intertwined ins a series of mistaken identities, assaults, kidnappings, overlapping relations, and murders, which will either bring them together forever or tear them irretrievably apart.

As Hunt attempts to right his world from problems caused by the head injury that has robbed him of parts of his memory, his best friend, the Earl of Remmington, makes it clear that he intends to claim Miss Lovelace as his wife. Hunt must decide whether to permit Angelica to align herself with the earldom or to claim the only woman who stirs his heart – and if he does the latter, can he still serve the dukedom with a hoydenish American heiress as his wife?

Excerpt: (Huntington McLaughlin and Angelica Lovelace’s first glance of each other)

Chapter 1

London 1819

The odor of the Thames as it wafted over the area beyond Greenland Docks caused Hunt’s nose to snarl, but Sir Alexander had declared that someone paid large sums of money for the privilege of a blind eye to unloaded contraband, and it was Hunt’s duty to learn more of the people involved. The wig Hunt wore itched, and he fought the urge to remove the offending item, and it did not slip his notice how his coachman, Etch, swallowed his amusement.

“Jist relax, sir. It shan’t be long,” Etch cautioned.

Hunt grunted his response, attempting to disguise his own mirth. He slouched lazily against the back of the chair, just as the baronet had taught him. It was not much, this bit of public duty he performed, but Hunt took a certain pride in doing more than being the Duke of Devilfoard’s heir apparent—more than being the Devil’s cub. His ears perked with interest at the conversation, taking place nearby.

“I tells you,” said the dark-haired man Hunt had followed into the tavern. “The viscounty means to learn more of the earl. Then we be makin’ a call upon his lordship.”

“And this Town lord knows of the earl?” the shorter of the two asked.

“That’s wat the viscounty says. Says he’s got an arr’ngement with the highest. He also say we be keepin’ the high lord company fer awhile ’til we’s know fer certain he be easy pickin’s. The viscounty be wantin’ information on who the high lord shows his attentions.”

The men rose to depart, and Hunt made to leave, but Etch placed a hand upon his sleeve.

“Wait.” The coachman nodded to the door. “Is that not Lord Newsome? Doing business in this part of London?”

Hunt’s expression screwed up in disbelief.

“The viscounty?” he wondered aloud. “This just became interesting.”



“You are pure evil,” she declared as he chased her through the intricate maze.

Dressed all in black, he stalked her, and Angel’s body heated from the brief brush of his fingertips upon her wrist. Catching her skirt tail, she skittered away from his slow pursuit.

“A copper for your thoughts,” she taunted with a nervous giggle.

“I was considering the pure pleasure of possessing my own personal angel.” His deep, resonant voice spoke of desire, but also of contentment.

“Am I that angel?” she rasped when he caught her shoulders and spun her to him.

“Forever.”



“Miss Angelica.” Her maid shook Angel’s shoulder. “Wake up, miss.”

Angelica Lovelace rolled to her back and stretched. She despised leaving the dream behind. It was one of her favorites, and she particularly enjoyed how it always ended with her in the dark stranger’s very masculine embrace.

“What is amiss?” she murmured.

Angelica kept her eyes closed, watching the scene’s details playing out behind her lids. She could not remember a time when she did not dream of her dark lover. Even as a very young girl, she enjoyed his company. When she was a child, he was her best friend, but when she turned to womanhood, he became her secret lover, and although she had never met him, he remained the man by which she judged all others. To her, he was her “dearest Devil,” always dressed in black, his shaggy coal-colored hair streaked with hints of mahogany. Over the years, Angelica blamed her oft-spoken-of irreverent attitude on the mystery man with a wicked wit and a splash of deviltry. If my critics knew of my sultry musings, they would agree I am quite beyond the pale. The thought brought a smile to her lips.

“Your father, miss,” the maid encouraged. “Mr. Lovelace requests you attend him in the small drawing room. Lord Arden has called.”

Angelica forced her eyes open. “Lord Arden?” She pushed herself to a seated position. “What might the baron require?”

“Mrs. Watson be thinking the baron will make himself known as a suitor.” The maid braced Angelica on the steps beside the bed.

“Do you suppose the baron consulted Mrs. Watson?” Angelica asked, with a bit of a tease.

The maid rarely understood Angel’s light sarcasm.

“Oh, no, miss. Mrs. Watson be creatin’ a guess.”

A chuckle slipped from Angelica’s lips. “And I thought an English upper servant worth her salt prided herself on knowing everything within the household.”

“Mrs. Watson knows enough.” The maid unlaced the ties on Angelica’s night rail. “I thought the silver muslin, miss.”

Angelica fought the urge to roll her eyes.

“Another virginal gown. Why is it English ladies announce their marital state with their gown’s color? What could be the harm in wearing a bright red or a royal blue?”

“You may choose whatever color most pleases you once you marry,” the maid observed in severe tones. “Lady Peterson wears only shades of purple. Can you imagine, miss? Purple dresses every day?”

Angelica frowned her disapproval.

“I am not certain I could tolerate the monotony. Needless to say, it would simplify the need for accessories. A few pairs of slippers and gloves would match one’s attire.”

“You’re so practical, miss,” the young girl observed.

Twenty minutes later and without breaking her fast, Angelica swept into the room. She and her father had imposed upon the earl and her mother’s sister Sarah by imploring upon her maternal relatives to open the earl’s Town house for the Season and for Lady Mannington to assume the position of Angelica’s sponsor in Society. Her mother’s older sister married Lord Mannington some five and twenty years prior. This was long before Angelica’s birth and before Lady Victoria Copley married Horace Lovelace and traveled to America.

“You sent for me, sir?” Angelica paused as her mother had taught her. ‘Allow the man to take your full measure.’ The words rang clear in Angel’s mind. It was comforting to have a bit of her mother with her.

Her father struggled to his feet. “There you are, my dear.”

Each day, Angelica became more aware of the man’s mortality. That particular fact was one of the reasons she had agreed to this venture. Her mother had passed two years prior, and her father insisted on carrying out his wife’s dying wishes. For years, Victoria Lovelace spoke of bringing her only daughter to England for a proper debut, but Lady Victoria succumbed to consumption before her wish knew fruition. Therefore, without the love of his life, Angel’s father made the journey.

“Please come in.” He gestured her forward. “You are acquainted with Lord Arden, I believe.”

“Yes, sir.” She curtsied to the man standing aristocratically beside the hearth. “The baron and I stood up together at the Breesons’ ball on Tuesday last.”

Arden executed a respectful bow.

“It is singular you have such perfect recall, Miss Lovelace.”

“Angelica has a quick mind,” her father remarked with pride, but then blustered. “Of course, my Victoria would say a learned lady was not a virtue by English standards.” He winced when shock crossed the baron’s features. “I apologize, Arden. I offer no censure. My late wife always accused me of acting a cake when speaking of our daughter. So many years away from my homeland must make me appear quite the heathen. I am accustomed to a freer-speaking society.”

“It is quite acceptable, Lovelace.” The baron grasped the hand Angelica extended in his direction and offered the obligatory air kiss. “Despite the consensus to the contrary, many Englishmen prefer their wives to possess a sensible nature.”

Angelica gestured to a nearby chair. “But the author of Pride and Prejudice proved in her first novel that sense and sensibility are different from intelligence, my lord,” she countered.

“I am surprised you have read the lady’s novels,” Arden remarked.

Angelica seated herself on the edge of the cushion and straightened her dress’s seam.

“Would your surprise be because the author is British rather than American or because the author is a lady, and women should not trespass upon the male dominated world of authorship?” She did not wait for his response before adding, “Perhaps your astonishment rests in the fact Sense and Sensibility is a novel rather than a serious tome?”

She smiled prettily at the man. Her mother may have determined Angelica required an English aristocrat for a husband. However, Angel had decided only a partner who could accept her flaws, as well as her substantial dowry, would do.

Arden frowned in what appeared to be confusion. He clearly did not expect a challenge to his opinions. “I suppose all three, Miss Lovelace.”

“But you hold no objection, my lord, to a woman who develops her mind through extensive reading?” Angel chuckled internally at the familiar line from the British author’s books. She was certain Arden possessed no idea of the remark’s source.

“I would imagine my wife would oversee our children’s educations. Therefore, I would expect a certain rationality—”

“Which brings us to the reason for Lord Arden’s visit, my dear,” her father interrupted. “Arden has requested my permission to call upon you with the intention of a courtship. That is, if you are agreeable.”

“A time to learn if we would suit?” Angel took a closer look at the baron. His thick dark brown hair had a tendency to curl about his collar. Barely six feet, the man struggled to appear more than a walking block of wood, but he possessed a pleasant countenance.

The baron bristled. “Customarily, such details are not discussed before the lady.”

Angel forced her mouth into a straight line. Since making her debut a month prior, she had delighted in ruffling the feathers of a number of gentlemen who saw her dowry as an inducement to marriage, even though it would be to a hoydenish American. When her father suggested this journey, Angel reminded him, as she had often reminded her dear mother, Angel’s ways would not sit well among the English elite for she spent too much time studying her father’s book on antiquities, tending to Horace Lovelace’s growing string of thoroughbreds, and overseeing the health and happiness of her father’s workers. Those were the things that brought her contentment in her Virginia home, but they were not qualities most men of the English peerage sought in a wife.

“We Americans often take a divergent course. I pray that fact does not present a difficulty to our future felicity, my lord,” she said with a practiced smile.

“Certainly not.” Despite his words of assurance, Arden frowned. “I welcome your frankness, Miss Lovelace.”

Angel heard the man’s insincerity, but she had promised her Aunt Sarah not to make predisposed judgments.

“Then how should we proceed, sir?”

“I thought I might escort you on daily outings,” he began. “If it is agreeable, we could drive today during the fashionable hour. I also hoped you would consider accompanying me to the theater tomorrow. My sister and her husband will join us.”

Angel stood to end the conversation. “I am amenable, Lord Arden.”

He followed her to his feet. “Then I will call for you this afternoon.”

“I shall anticipate it.” She directed him from the room, but before Angel opened the door to the main hallway, she paused. With her hand resting on the latch, she smiled innocently up at the man. “Might I ask one question before you leave us, my lord?”

He appeared surprised and then assumed a cynical expression. “By all means.”

Angel hesitated, undecided, but, in truth, she meant to set guidelines before their courtship began. “During this time where we determine whether we might suit, am I to limit my interactions with other gentlemen callers? I would prefer to understand our agreement.”

The baron’s eyes narrowed. “I would expect your undivided attention, Miss Lovelace.”

She smiled sweetly. “Then I would expect the same from you, my lord.”

“Of what do you accuse me, Miss Lovelace?” he huffed.

Angel withheld a glare of disgust. “I meant no offense, sir.” She schooled her features to portray politeness. With that, she opened the door and turned the baron over to the waiting footman.

“Was that necessary?” her father grumbled as he poured himself a glass of claret.

She resumed her seat. “I studied the list of potential candidates Uncle Lancelot provided us. Arden has a long-standing title, but he is deeply in debt. My dowry must appear quite tempting. The baron would accept a woman lacking in effeminate ways to salvage his estate. I mean to keep the baron off balance until I am certain of his motivations. Who knows? Perhaps we shall suit, but I shan’t be his subject. When I marry, I wish a relationship as loving as yours and mother’s.”

“Lady Victoria Copley was one of a kind,” her father said wistfully. “Your mother possessed a magnanimous heart. My Victoria deserved better than a minor son, but I am more than grateful she chose me from among her many suitors. You will find it difficult to discover a man of even half Lady Victoria’s merit.”

Angel thought of her devilish dreams. A man of passion and compassion would do well for her. “I require a man of vision, like my father,” she said in earnest.



The slow carriage procession drove Angel nearly to Bedlam, but she kept the smile upon her lips. She had agreed to the craziness of the “Marriage Mart,” as her Uncle Lancelot termed it, but she preferred to be anywhere else. The baron’s gig crawled along behind a Stanhope. Every few feet, the man would slow the carriage to acknowledge another member of the beau monde before introducing her to his acquaintances. The ton practiced their pompousness with prescribed efficiency, and Angel found it blatantly boring. With amusement, she wondered what her devil would say to such pretentiousness. Mayhap he would use it as a prime argument in defense of passion ruling the world. Not that Angel knew anything of passion. In fact, she had never known even the most faithful of kisses.

“Woolgathering, Miss Lovelace?” a brittle voice broke through her thoughts.

Angel flushed as she looked up into the countenance of a frowning earl. “I beg your pardon, Lord Townsend, I was simply enjoying the park’s splendor on a spring day.”

“You should always carry a parasol, Miss Lovelace,” Lady Townsend warned. “We would not wish to see you become too brown from the sun.”

Angel doubted the woman’s sincerity. She was certain the ton would celebrate any flaw Angel sported. She despised the British standard for unblemished skin. White pasty skin. Virginal white gowns. Proper manners, which hid prejudice and censure. A bland lifestyle wrapped in formality. She missed her American friends and her home in the picturesque Virginia mountains, and she missed riding at break neck speed across her father’s land.

“I am grateful for the suggestion, ma’am, and honored by your attention.” The carriage nudged forward, and Angel prepared to greet the baron’s next acquaintance. “What a crazy tradition!” she observed. “Would it not be wonderful to give the horses their heads?”

“A proper gentleman would never place his cattle in danger,” Arden said in chastisement.

Angel stiffened. His tone increased her often-quick ire. The baron’s first thought was of his team. Should he not think of the park goers or of her position in the high backed gig if safety was his true concern?

“I never suggested you turn your team free. I simply made the observation it would be a pleasant experience to feel the wind upon one’s cheeks.”

“Acting such would age a woman,” he said with another scowl.

Angel considered arguing, but she stifled her words. It was useless to think she might find a mate who spoke to her soul. Dutifully, she apologized. This was her first outing with Arden, and she would not leave the man with a poor impression of her manners. She ignored his declaration, and instead focused on the families enjoying the park. I wish for family, she thought. Children and a husband, who knows pleasure in me and in my devotion. A marriage where love rules our reason.

In resignation of what may never be, Angel turned her head and watched a tall figure toss a ball to a boy hefting a cricket bat. Even from a distance, she could tell he cut a fine figure. It was brazen of her to study one man when riding out with another, yet, she could not turn her gaze. Without realizing the reason, she extended her gloved hand in his direction, as if she wished to turn him toward her so she might look upon his features. It was the oddest sensations, and Angel swallowed hard against the rising constriction in her chest.



Huntington McLaughlin, Marquess of Malvern, ignored the continual line of carriages tooling its way along the lane leading to and from the Serpentine, as well as the Society mamas, who attempted to catch his attention. He never understood the ton’s desire to be on display. In fact, Hunt could not recall the last time he suffered a drive through the park during the fashionable hour. Today, he had brought Logan and Lucas, his sister’s twins, to the park. Earlier, he spent what felt like hours pacifying his father’s high dudgeon regarding Hunt’s refusal of Lord Sandahl’s virginal daughter, Lady Mathild.

“I want nothing of an innocent,” he declared.

If his father forced him to marry, Hunt would consider a widow, but no green girl straight from the schoolroom. He wished for a woman to place her love for him above all others—a woman who shared his passions for life and adventure and learning.

“What is amiss, Uncle Hunt?” Logan called as he took a few practice swings.

Hunt escorted his nephews to the park to remove them from Henrietta’s way. His twin sister was heavy with another child, and with Viscount Stoke away on governmental business, Hunt promised to see to the twins’ safeties, while permitting the boys to expend some of their unbridled energy.

“Nothing,” he mumbled, but he brought his forearm across his eyes to block the sun. Despite standing in an open field and surrounded by many of Society’s best, his loins tightened. From the long equipage line, he watched a slow-moving carriage turning toward Rotten Row. A golden-haired beauty clung to the gig’s side, the wisps of her hair alive with light, and she turned in the seat to stare at him. Too young, his mind argued, but his body reacted nonetheless. He hardened, and although he knew it a foolish act, as the distance between them was too far apart to distinguish each other’s features, he lowered his arm so she might look upon him. “Bloody hell,” he mumbled as the gig moved away.

“Come on, Uncle Hunt,” Logan encouraged.

Hunt withdrew his eyes from the departing carriage, but not before he spotted what he thought was the woman reaching out to him. It was like nothing he had ever experienced, and the movement set his body on alert.

“Right away,” he said with little conviction. With the girl no longer in sight, Hunt turned to the seven-year-olds. “Are you prepared?” He tossed the ball in the air to catch it again.

“It will be a fiver,” Logan bragged.

Hunt laughed at his nephew’s puffed-out chest. “No boasting until after you produce.” Yet, while he tossed the ball to Logan, Hunt thought only of the pleasure of greeting the unknown girl with an embrace she would never forget.

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My Happy Dance…the Musical? Musing on Pride and Prejudice as a Broadway Show

I have been fortunate over the last couple of years to have several of my titles recognized with awards from various RWA groups.  My latest cozy mystery, The Prosecution of Mr. Darcy’s Cousin, has recently been named as a 2016 Runner-up in Historical Mystery for the Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense. With each  announcement, I mentioned my “Happy Dance.” To understand my “Happy Dance,” one must have a knowledge of Zero Mostel’s performance as Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof ~ specifically, Mostel’s freestyle dance about the stage when he sang, “If I Were a Rich Man.” Of course, such “freedom” sets my brain to thinking, which is not always a good thing. For example, I wonder what songs would the characters in Pride and Prejudice break into if we were doing P&P as a Broadway musical? Do not throw your hands up in despair! Hear me out on this. 

Logo from the 2011 NY Musical

First know that I am aware that Lindsay Warren Baker and Amanda Jacobs brought to the stage, Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, A Musical. In this production, Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy’s romance comes to life with fresh eyes as Jane Austen revisits her unpublished manuscript, First Impressions. As Austen transforms their story into what will ultimately become her masterpiece, Pride and Prejudice, both the author and her characters struggle to learn the joy of second chances.

I am also aware that First Impressions: A Pride and Prejudice Broadway Musical was one of the failures of the 1958-59 Broadway season, despite having Polly Bergen, Hermoine Gingold, and Farley Granger as its stars. Actually, Bergen had replaced Gisele MacKenzie at the last minute. In the role of Elizabeth Bennet, Bergen had but three weeks to learn the score.

images-5In reality, my idea would be a mish-mash of my favorite Broadway tunes added to a dramatic format. Let me explain what I had in mind. Let us return to “If I Were a Rich Man.” Could you not envision the character of George Wickham breaking into song and belting out the following words:

“Dear God, you made many, many poor people. / I realize, of course, that it’s no shame to be poor./ But it’s no great honor either! /So, what would have been so terrible if I had a small fortune?”

If I were a rich man, /Yubby dibby dibby dibby dibby dibby dibby dum. /All day long I’d biddy biddy bum. /If I were a wealthy man.

I wouldn’t have to work hard. /Ya ha deedle deedle, bubba bubba deedle deedle dum./ If I were a biddy biddy rich, /Idle-diddle-daidle-daidle man.

I’d build a big tall house with rooms by the dozen, /Right in the middle of the town./ A fine tin roof with real wooden floors below. /There would be one long staircase just going up, /And one even longer coming down, /And one more leading nowhere, just for show.

(or)

imgresimagesHow about Charlotte Lucas and Jane Bennet joining together on “People” from Funny Girl?

From Charlotte Collins: People–people who need people/ Are the luckiest people in the world,

We’re children, needing other children/ And yet letting our grown-up pride/ Hide all the need inside, /Acting more like children ~ Than children.

From Jane Bennet: Lovers are very special people,/ They’re the luckiest people in the world.

With one person, one very special person/ A feeling deep in your soul/ Says you were half; now you’re whole./ No more hunger and thirst Jane-and-Mr-Bingley-pride-and-prejudice-couples-6970674-451-170/ But first be a person who needs people.  

images-1Can you not imagine a segue from Lambton to Pemberley with Elizabeth Bennet sharing her fears of meeting Mr. Darcy with “On the Street Where You Live” from My Fair Lady?”

I have often walked down this street before; /But the pavement always stayed beneath my feet before./All at once am I, Several stories high. /Knowing I’m on the street where you live.

Are there lilac trees in the heart of town?/ Can you hear a lark in any other part of town?/ Does enchantment pour Out of ev’ry door?/ No, it’s just on the street where you live!

And oh! The towering feeling/ Just to know somehow you are near./ The overpowering feeling/ That any second you may suddenly appear!

People stop and stare. They don’t bother me./ For there’s nowhere else on earth that I would rather be./ Let the time go by, I won’t care if I/ Can be here on the street where you live.

images-6I would not mind seeing Lydia Bennet rocking out to “Ease On Down the Road” from The Wiz.  

‘Cause there maybe times / When you think you lost your mind/ And the steps you’re takin’/ Leave you three, four steps behind

But the road you’re walking/ Might be long sometimes/ You just keep on steppin’/ And you’ll just be fine, yeah 

Ease on down, ease on down the road/ Come on, ease on down/ Ease on down the road

Don’t you carry nothing/ That might be a load/ Come on, ease on down/ Ease on down the road

images-2I can also imagine Darcy singing “One” from A Chorus Line when he discovers that he is heels-over-head in love with Elizabeth Bennet.

One singular sensation, every little step she takes/ One thrilling combination, every move that she makes

One smile and suddenly nobody else will do/ You know you’ll never be lonely with you-know-who

One moment in her presence and you can forget the rest/ For the girl is second best to none, son

Oooh! Sigh! Give her your attention / Do I really have to mention, she’s the one

imgres-1How about Elizabeth giving her sister Jane a lesson in hope after Mr. Bingley leaves Netherfield by sharing the most famous pageant song ever written, “Tomorrow” from Annie?

The sun’ll come out Tomorrow/ Bet your bottom dollar/ That tomorrow, There’ll be sun!

Just thinkin’ about Tomorrow/ Clears away the cobwebs,/ And the sorrow, ‘Til there’s none!

When I’m stuck a day/ That’s gray, And lonely,/ I just stick out my chin/ And Grin,/ And Say, Oh!

The sun’ll come out Tomorrow/ So ya gotta hang on ‘Til tomorrow/ Come what may

Tomorrow! Tomorrow!/ I love ya, Tomorrow!/ You’re always a day away!

imgres-2images-3I could also easily see the residents of Meryton, especially the unmarried females, breaking out into “Big Spender” from Sweet Charity when Darcy and Bingley make their entrance.

The minute you walked in the joint,/ I could see you were a man of distinction,/ A real big spender,

Good looking, so refined./ Say, wouldn’t you like to know/ What’s going on in my mind?

So, let me get right to the point,/ I don’t pop my cork for ev’ry guy I see.

Hey, big spender, spend…/ A little time with me!

imgres-3imgres-4Could you also see Darcy looking at Georgiana and wondering when she had grown into a woman? I’m returning to Fiddler on the Roof and the haunting melody of “Sunrise, Sunset.” (I have taken the liberty to change the wording a bit to be only about a young girl.)

Is this the little girl I carried?/ Is this the little child at play?

I don’t remember growing older/ When did she?

When did she get to be a beauty?/ When did she grow to be so tall?

Wasn’t it yesterday when she was small?

Sunrise, sunset/ Sunrise, sunset/ Swiftly flow the days

Seedlings turn overnight to sunflowers/ Blossoming even as we gaze

Sunrise, sunset/ Sunrise, sunset/ Swiftly fly the years

One season following another/ Laden with happiness and tears

images-4Finally, I would offer up “For Good” from Wicked as part of Darcy’s second proposal.

I’ve heard it said/ That people come into our lives for a reason/ Bringing something we must learn

And we are led/ To those who help us most to grow

If we let them/ And we help them in return

Well, I don’t know if I believe that’s true/ But I know I’m who I am today/ Because I knew you

Like a comet pulled from orbit/ As it passes a sun

Like a stream that meets a boulder/ Halfway through the wood

Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better?

But because I knew you/ I have been changed for good

So, tell me what you think? Could my version of P&P, the Musical make it? What other songs might we add? Is there a future for other Austen productions?

________________________

Awards 

The Prosecution of Mr. Darcy’s Cousin: A Pride and Prejudice Mystery – 2016 Finalist for the Frank Yerby Award for Fiction; 2016 Finalist for the Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense

The Mysterious Death of Mr. Darcy: A Pride and Prejudice Mystery – 2013 SOLA’s Eighth Annual Dixie Kane Memorial Awards, Honorable Mention, Romantic Suspense; Finalist 2014 Frank Yerby Award for Fiction; Winter Rose Awards 2014, 2nd Place, Romantic Suspense

Angel Comes to the Devil’s Keep – 2013 SOLA’s Eighth Annual Dixie Kane Memorial Awards, 3rd Place, Historical Romance

A Touch of Grace: Book 4 of the Realm Series – 2012 SOLA’s Seventh Annual Dixie Kane Memorial Awards, 3rd Place, Historical Romance

The First Wives’ Club – 2012 SOLA’s Seventh Annual Dixie Kane Memorial Awards, Honorable Mention, Historical Romance

The Scandal of Lady Eleanor (aka A Touch of Scandal): Book 1 of the Realm Series – 2011 Write Touch Readers’ Award, 2nd Place, Historical Romance

Christmas at Pemberley: A Holiday Sequel to Pride and Prejudice 2011 Booksellers’ Best Award Finalist, Inspirational Romance; 2012 New England Book Festival, 2nd Place, General Fiction

The Phantom of Pemberley: A Pride and Prejudice Mystery – 2010 SOLA’s Fifth Annual Dixie Kane Memorial Awards, 3rd Place, Romantic Suspense

Darcy’s Temptation: A Sequel to Pride and Prejudice – 2009 Booksellers’ Best Award Finalist, Long Historical

 

Posted in Austen actors, film adaptations, Jane Austen, music, Pride and Prejudice | Tagged , , , , | 12 Comments

Social Class in Jane Austen’s “Emma”

There are those who claim Emma represents Jane Austen’s literary accomplishment. I am not of that persuasion, although I think my indifference comes more from the fact I do not find Emma Woodhouse a character I admire than it does from Miss Austen’s ability to craft a tale. In Edward Austen-Leigh’s A Memoir of Jane Austen, he says that Austen, too, thought Emma not a character that many would like. Emma Woodhouse transforms from snobbish girl to mature woman in the length of the novel, which describes her path to self-knowledge.

So, what do we know of Emma’s character? First Miss Woodhouse…
** is 21 years of age
** believes in the rightness of her opinions
** is clever
** is handsome of countenance
** is rich (an oddity in Austen’s heroines)
** is snobbish about class structure
** possesses the tendency to permit her imagination free rein
** manipulates the path of Love for many of her acquaintances
** is the mistress of her father’s house since age 16
** dominates the affable Mr. Woodhouse
** thinks well of her abilities and judgments

Emma_1996_TV_Kate_BeckinsaleEmma is the younger of Mr. Woodhouse’s daughters. She resides with her father at Hartfield; Woodhouse is the second highest ranking man (behind Knightley) in the neighborhood. Mr. Woodhouse (like Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice) comes from an ancient and well-respected family. Like Georgiana Darcy, Emma Woodhouse has a dowry of 30,000 pounds. Her sister Isabella is married to Mr. John Knightley, a lawyer in London and the brother of Mr. George Knightley.

The setting of this novel is more limited than many of the others. Highbury is the center of Emma’s world. People come and go, but Emma never leaves the beloved village where she reigns as the “queen” of society. This constriction creates a quandary for Emma. She would prefer not to associate with those below her social class, but if she acted as such, she would possess no social life whatsoever.

Mr. George Knightley is the ideal country squire. He takes his responsibilities to his land (Donwell Abbey) and to his dependents seriously. He is known for his benevolence to others. The Knightleys and the Woodhouses are the upper echelon of society in Highbury.

One of the things which might appear as out of step with many Regency novels (but is more to the truth of the day) is the fact that Mr. Knightley does not keep a stable of horses. He prefers walking to riding, and when horses are required for his carriage, Knightley lets them. This is a sore point for Emma, who thinks Knightley acting so has people not recognizing his proper place in society. Emma feels that Knightley encourages too much familiarity with those below him.

stovel-figure4Knightley’s interactions with people is in sharp contrast to Emma’s opinions. Knightley is cognizant of social distinctions, but he presents respect to those who are deserving of it. For example, whereas Emma poo-poos Robert Martin’s position as a tenant farmer on Knightley’s land, Knightley calls Martin superior to Harriet Smith, saying that Martin is a “respectable, intelligent, gentleman-farmer.” Knightley claims Harriet without intelligence and no connections. His words are not disdain, just the truth. Even if Harriet were possesses beauty and a sweet nature, her illegitimate parentage would keep her from aspiring to a man above Martin’s station in life. In contrast, Knightley declares Jane Fairfax an appropriate companion for Emma. He judges Miss Fairfax as intelligent, beautiful, and accomplished (although the woman is without a fortune).

Emma is offended by Mr. Elton’s offer of marriage because she feels Mr. Elton should not think himself her equal socially. This situation predisposes Emma to find the new Mrs. Elton as vain and possessing too much self-importance.

Emma’s snobbish attitude is very evident when she tells Harriet:

“A young farmer, whether on horseback or on foot, is the very last sort of person to raise my curiosity. The yeomanry are precisely the order of people with whom I feel I can have nothing to do. A degree or two lower, and a creditable appearance might interest me; I might hope to be useful to their families in some way or other.”

Emma even goes so far as to tell Harriet that it pleases Emma that Harriet refused Martin.“I could not have visited Mrs. Robert Martin of Abbey-Mill Farm.”

Below the Knighleys and Woodhouses, we find Mr. and Mrs. Weston. Mr. Weston spent time in the military, but his fortune comes from trade. The Eltons are also part of this middle ground. All we know of Mr. Elton’s past is that he is “without any alliances but in trade.” As a vicar, he has received a gentleman’s education and Elton is accepted in the finer homes in the area. Mrs. Augusta Elton comes to her marriage with a dowry of 10,000 pounds via her parents’ fortune in trade. I find it ironic to hear Mrs. Elton speaking of her sister’s family – a family by the name of Sucklings. The Sucklings flaunt their wealth with a large estate near Bristol and a barouche-landau. In this class, we also find Mrs. Bates, who is the widow of a clergyman. Although the woman’s marital status keeps her in the company of the wealthier families, Mrs. Bates and her unmarried daughter reside in let rooms above one of the shops in Highbury. Even so, the Bateses depend upon “the kindness of others” for the luxuries of life. Mrs. Goddard is the last of this class. She is mistress of the village school.

Some of Emma’s neighbors are part of the “upwardly mobile” class. These include the Coles (who prospered in trade), Robert Martin (a farmer on the Donwell Abbey estate), the Coxes (country lawyers in Highbury), Mr. Perry (the apothecary), and Mr. Hughes (a physician).

We note Emma’s reluctance to interact with those in this group beyond what is necessary. In fact, she thinks to refuse an invitation to a dinner at the Coles until she learns that the Westons and Mr. Churchill will attend.

Below the Coles, etc., we find Mr. and Mrs. Ford (shop owners), Mrs. Stokes (the Crown Inn’s landlady), William Larkins (Mr. Knightley’s steward), Mrs. Wallis (the pastry cook’s wife), and Miss Nash and Miss Prince and Miss Richardson (school teachers). Harriet Smith would be part of this level of society if not for Emma’s patronage.

maxresdefaultHarriet Smith is the illegitimate daughter of a merchant, who placed her with Mrs. Goddard, but who had ignored Harriet since.

“In taking up an illegitimate parlour boarder in Mrs Goddard’s village school, Emma chooses a protégée she can do what she likes with. There is a snag: Harriet has already formed an attachment with a young farmer, Robert Martin. Emma tries to force the issue by telling Harriet that she (Emma) cannot possibly associate with anyone of Martin’s class. The influential American critic Lionel Trilling argues that Emma is ‘a dreadful snob.’ Being aware of one’s position in society, however, is not the same as being a snob.

“Critic Paul Pickrel argues that Trilling has simply misread Austen’s novel. Whatever we think of her heroine, we shouldn’t take what she says at face value. Emma wants to control everyone and everything around her. The combination is a dangerous one, and by interfering in Harriet’s life she poses a real threat to the future of a naive 17-year-old. But it is too simplistic to say snobbishness causes her to sideline Robert Martin: she wants Harriet to herself and, like a child, will say anything to keep her.” [Austen’s Outspoken Heroines]

Other Highbury characters include James (Mr. Woodhouse’s coachman), Patty (the Bateses’ maid), and Mrs. Hodges (Mr. Knightley’s cook).

The characters who visit Highbury and change the village’s complexion include Jane Fairfax (a rival to Emma for Mr. Knightley’s affections), Frank Churchill (who seeks Jane’s affections and flirts with Emma), Mrs. Elton (who snubs Harriet and attempts to manage Jane), and the gypsies.

Austen masterly weaves these levels of society together. The characters of Mrs. Bates and Miss Bates are the link holding the differing levels together. Miss Bates is gregarious and likable, and the woman, as well as her mother, are the “comic relief” in the novel. Emma’s poor treatment at Miss Bates is the source of Mr. Knightley’s criticism of her and the turning point in the novel.

 

Although Austen does not go so far as to include characters such as Squire Western from Fielding’s Tom Jones in the plot of Emma, she does display hints of what we find in her last novel, Persuasion: self-made men who are superior to the gentleman class.

“Some of Austen’s female characters – Jane Bennet, Fanny Price, Anne Elliot – are gentle and passive. Austen’s two favourite heroines, Elizabeth Bennet and Emma, are precisely the opposite. Both are able to have equal and intimate relationships with men through their use of speech and laughter. In her essay ‘Silent Women, Shrews, and Bluestockings,’ feminist critic Jocelyn Harris argues that in allowing her women characters to speak so cleverly Austen subverts ‘misogynist constructions of women,’ who ‘have always been discouraged from knowing, speaking, and writing.’

“In Emma, says Harris, the heroine’s openness is preferable to Jane Fairfax’s reserve, even if Emma ‘says too much too often.’ She, ‘like Elizabeth Bennet, speaks too freely because her father’s power is weak.’ But Austen shields these two outspoken, intelligent heroines from being labelled shrews by the use of free indirect speech – so we sometimes find them thinking uncharitable thoughts that they are too tactful to express out loud. Austen was highly conscious of the effect of gender on language. Anne Elliot in Persuasion comments that ‘men have every advantage of us in telling their story. Education has been theirs in so much higher a degree.’” [Austen’s Outspoken Heroines]

“Jane Austen and her works are generally considered representative of the late eighteenth-century “classical” world view and its values—judgment, reason, clarity of perception—those of the ‘Age of Reason.’ In its best sense, this is a moral world view, reflecting the values of the Enlightenment. Austen’s values represent order in the face of disorder, but her concept of order embodies what is true, organic, living, not the static order imposed merely on the exterior, from ‘society’ or ‘the church,’ for example. Austen’s attitudes actually differ in subtle ways from the conventional manifestations of the classical attitudes and forms of the late eighteenth century—of the excesses of classicism that the Romantics rebelled against so vehemently. However, Jane Austen’s novels can also be called anti-Romantic in that they counter the extremes of the Romantic imagination epitomized by the Gothic novels so popular during her time, and satirized by Austen in Northanger Abbey. In Emma she also satirizes romantic excess, particularly in the character of Harriet Smith who, in a sense, enshrines Mr. Elton by keeping as ‘her most precious treasures’ relics of a scrap of ‘court plaister’ he handled and an old pencil piece that had belonged to him.

“The ordered society in Austen’s world is one in which people live in authentic harmony—socially, economically, emotionally, and ethically. Balance, order, and good sense exist in the face of too much sensibility; a balance of intellect and emotion, thought and feeling, outer and inner experience, society and the interior life, is the key to understanding Austen’s schema of meaningful experience and right relationships. Throughout Emma we are part of the energy of the novel leading toward the fulfillment of this ideal in the vitality of the characters.” [PERSUASIONS ON-LINE V.21, NO.2 (Summer 2000) The Dilemma of Emma: Moral, Ethical, and Spiritual Value by Karin Jackson.]

[Note: Squire Western is a caricature of the rough-and-ready, conservative country gentleman. Affectionate at heart, the Squire nevertheless acts with extreme violence towards his daughter Sophia, by constantly incarcerating her, and even verbally and physically abusing her. However, since the Squire is a caricature, Fielding does not intend for us to judge these actions too harshly. Similarly, the Squire’s insistence on Sophia marrying Blifil has less to do with greed than with his stubbornness and adherence to tradition. Squire Western’s speaks in West Country dialect, and peppers his speech with curses.]

Posted in Austen actors, Austen Authors, book excerpts, film adaptations, Georgian England, Georgian Era, historical fiction, Jane Austen, Living in the Regency, marriage customs, reading, Regency era | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Colorful, Colored, and Colorless Words: Fixing Writing Errors

Do you recall the dreaded 500-words’ essay often assigned by English teachers? Do you also recall the sinking feeling of coming up with 500 words on a subject for which you held no opinion? Do you also recall writing something similar to…

In my opinion, it seems to me that Jane Austen was an overrated author. The reason why I think this is true is because I feel…”

In this age of self-publishing we find a plethora of examples of poor writing. I am not saying some of what is published by traditional publishers is not equally as troublesome, but many self-published writers also lack the skills to edit their mistakes.

Now that I have mentioned that dreaded 500-words’ essay, do you also recall the grade you received on it? Was it because you “padded” the essay to fill the word count. Instead of stuffing your sentences with cotton balls, try to eliminate the padding. Make your sentences leaner.

Common-Errors-to-Avoid-in-WritingRather than circling warily around what you want to say for a half page or more, you need to illustrate the details. You must also learn not to hedge on a subject. If the person is a fool, call him one. Do not spend time with “in my opinion” or “as I see it” or “from my point of view.” Say what you wish to say. Avoid euphemisms. Admittedly, in certain time periods, euphemisms are plentiful to soften subjects that are sensitive or taboo. Just think of the number of ways to say that someone died: passed away, pushed up the daisies, met his Maker, kicked the bucket, cashed in his chips, etc. As I write books based in the Regency, I am conscious to say with child or enceinte for pregnant. I also include phrases such as “lying in” to describe the weeks leading up to the baby’s delivery.

However, do not toss in every word or phrase within your vocabulary. Is it not better to read, “To be or not to be, that is the question,” than to read “To continue as a social unit or not to do so. That is the personality problem. Whether it is a better sign of integration at the conscious level to display a psychic tolerance toward the maladjustments and repressions induced by one’s lack of orientation in one’s environment….” [“What Do You Mean by Rhetoric?” by J. R. McCuen and A. C. Winkler]

Be conscious of “pat” expressions. They are often hard to avoid and appear to be necessary, when they are. Pat expressions include phrases such as “under cover of darkness,” “worked his fingers to the bone,” “when all is said and done,” “the pure and simple truth,” “took the easy way out,” etc. The trouble with pat expressions is that they some time stand between the writer and the reader’s understanding. So, phrases such as “our national heritage” does not say everything we wish it to do.

Discovering the right word is the author’s bane. Some words are “colorful.” Instead of “She sat in the chair,” why not use sprawled, lazed, lounged, etc. The 19th Century in which I write prefers its prose to be rich, while the 20th Century took a leaner approach. In opposition to colorful words, we also have “colored” words. Those are words with attached associations, good or bad. The meaning of a word is the sum of the contexts in which it occurs. Liberty, patriotic, mother, childlike, etc., possess positive associations, while reactionary, radical, mother-in-law, foolish, etc., hold negative tones. Finally, writers may use colorless words. As a former English teacher, I despise words such as nice, hot, cool, dude, etc., for they add nothing to the description. There are also nouns of very general meaning, such as instances, factors, attitudes, relationships, etc. “In some circumstances you will find that those cases of writing which contain too many instances of words like these will in this and other aspects have factors leading to unsatisfactory relationships with the reader resulting in unfavorable attitudes on his part and perhaps other eventualities.” Notice that “etc.” means, “I’d like to make this list longer, but I can’t think of any more examples.” [McCuen and Winkler]

Posted in eBooks, editing, language choices, publishing, word choices, word choices, word play, writing | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Carolina Book Fest 2016 ~ Coming October 15

 

Book Signing
Carolina
Book Fest
 is a book signing taking place in the Queen City
of Charlotte, North Carolina on October 15, 2016. The book signing
will be held at the Marriott City Center in downtown Charlotte from 10am until 3pm.

This is the perfect opportunity to meet over 100 bestselling authors from all
genres!  You can find more information on the Marriott by going here.

Monster Mash (After Party)
Join us at 7:30 pm back at the Marriott for our Monster Mash! We will be throwing an epic after party to end our night! Dress in your best costume and get ready to mingle with authors and readers! We will have dancing, a photo booth, and other fun things! A cash bar will be provided at the party. 
Admission Prices
Book Signing: $15
Book Signing & After Party: $25
If you are interested in purchasing tickets
to attend Carolina Book Fest 2016, they can be purchased here:  http://bit.ly/carolinabookfest2016tickets
Attending Authors
Here is our current list of attending
Carolina Book Fest Authors! Check out http://www.carolinabookfest.com/attending-authors
to learn more about them!
 
 
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