Georgian Jeweler to the “Ton”

This state portrait of Queen Victoria by George Hayter (detail), shows her wearing the new Imperial State Crown "expressly made for the  solemnity of the Coronation" by Rundell, Bridge & Co., with 3,093 gems. George Hayter - http://www.gac. search/Object.asp?object_key=29134 - Public Domain

This state portrait of Queen Victoria by George Hayter (detail), shows her wearing the new Imperial State Crown “expressly made for the
solemnity of the Coronation” by Rundell, Bridge & Co., with 3,093 gems.
George Hayter – http://www.gac.
search/Object.asp?object_key=29134 – Public Domain

In my current WIP, I had the need to discover something of the jewelry trade during the Regency Era. Rundle & Bridge were considered jewelers for the ton after 1805. Remember that if one had money, the Regency was an era of custom-made jewelry. So while some might browse a few pieces made up, it’s more likely that person would view some drawings and the stones and have something made to order. Even heirloom sets were often reworked and remade to suit fashion. 

Philip Rundell headed up a silver manufacturing company. Jewelry of every type (watches, rings, necklaces, custom-made items) filled his shop at number 32 on Ludgate Hill. Rundell was an apprentice to a jeweler in Bath before arriving in London in the mid 1700s. He worked for many years at Theed and Pickett, Jewelers and Goldsmiths. Eventually, he made partner with the group and later (1785) purchased the shop, which was to bear his name. 

John Bridge became Rundell’s partner soon afterwards. Through a connection of a cousin, Bridge soon earned the notice of King George III. Soon, Rundell and Bridge were known as “Jewelers and Goldsmiths to the King.” The business received royal warrants from George IV and Frederick, Duke of York. 

To learn more of the other partners and designers associated with Rundell, Bridge, and Rundell, please see this post on the Georgian Index. It contains fabulous images of some of the most important pieces created by the firm, including “The Shield of Achilles,” designed for George IV’s coronation. 

An excellent list of merchants (including jewelers) for the Georgian era can be found here –

You might also find this source of interest if you are doing research on the time or on commerce. 

Rundell, Bridge and Rundell – An Early Company History
Robert W. Lovett
Bulletin of the Business Historical Society
Vol. 23, No. 3 (Sep., 1949), pp. 152-162
Published by: The President and Fellows of Harvard College
DOI: 10.2307/3111183
Stable URL:
Page Count: 11

This description comes from JStor. 

Posted in British history, business, company, Great Britain, Living in the Regency, Regency era, Victorian era | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

UK “Real” Estate: The Isle of Portland and Nanny Diamond Faires


Isle of Portland, United Kingdom Location Guide

Isle of Portland, United Kingdom Location Guide

The Isle of Portland is a limestone tied island, 6 kilometres (4 mi) long by 2.4 kilometres (1.5 mi) wide, in the English Channel. Portland is 8 kilometres (5 mi) south of the resort of Weymouth, forming the southernmost point of the county of Dorset, England. A tombolo, over which runs the A354 Road, connects it to Chesil Island and the mainland.

Portland is a central part of the Jurassic Coast, a World Heritage Site on the Dorset and east Devon coast, important for its geology and landforms. Portland stone, famous for its use in British and world architecture, including St Paul’s Cathedral and the United Nations Headquarters, continues to be quarried.

Portland Harbour, in the bay between Portland and Weymouth, is one of the largest man-made harbours in the world. Building of stone breakwaters between 1848 and 1905 formed the harbour. From its inception it was a Royal Navy base, and played prominent roles during the First and Second World Wars; ships of the Royal Navy and NATO countries exercised in its waters until 1995. The harbour is now a civilian port and popular recreation area, which will be used for the 2012 Olympic Games.

The Isle of Portland, Dorset, contains eight settlements, the largest being Fortuneswell in Underhill and Easton in Tophill. Castletown and Chiswell are the other villages in Underhill, and Weston, Southwell, Wakeham and the Grove occupy Tophill.

On the isle, near Southwell, fairies, known as “Nanny Diamonds” reportedly haunt the road. Likely, the name comes from “Nanoid,” meaning dwarf like and “Diana,” the Goddess of the Moon.

Dorset, itself, has numerous earthworks and barrows. It is believed that fairies inhabit these burial mounds. Six hillocks from the Bronze Age

The Dorset landscape would not be complete without is numerous ancient earthworks and barrows. In the past, these burial mounds were believed to be inhabited by fairies. Six hillocks, dating to the Bronze Age, can be seen from Bincombe Hill overlooking the port of Weymouth. These hills are known as the “Music Barrows.” Legend says that if one puts his ear to the top of one of the barrows at noon, he can hear the plaintive tones of fairy music.

The Isle of Portland was once a popular fairy haunt, but according to local legend; when the first church bell rang out over the island, all the fairies were seen fleeing in terror along the Chesil Beach and were said to have never returned. However, small fairies known as ‘Nanny Diamonds’ are still said to haunt Southwell, along the road that leads to Cheyne.

Fairy Tales on Pinterest | Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and Arthur ... Frank Cheyne Papé ~ Ringfalla Bridge ~ The Diamond Fairy Book ~ c1911

Fairy Tales on Pinterest | Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and Arthur …
Frank Cheyne Papé ~ Ringfalla Bridge ~ The Diamond Fairy Book ~ c1911

They wear short white dresses and white Phrygian hats and though they seem quite cute and friendly, they are not to be trusted, for they have the power to bring the ‘Evil Eye’ upon anyone who crosses them. They offer people forbidden fruits and promises of love and riches.

However, between noon and one of the afternoon, legends say that the Nanny Diamonds can be bribed into granting wishes. One must hide a silver coin among the nooks and crannies in the dry stone walls on either side of the road.

 Ringstead Bay - Wikiwand View of the Isle of Portland from Ringstead Bay

Ringstead Bay – Wikiwand
View of the Isle of Portland from Ringstead Bay

Parts of this post come from information found on Wikipedia and other parts on Britain Express.

Posted in British history, Great Britain, Living in the Regency | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Last Day of “The Kid’s Are Back in School, Time to Read” Sale ~ Purchase Now!

Today is the last day for “The Kids Are Back in School, Time to Read” Sale. So, hurry to your favorite eBook site (Kindle, Kobo, and Nook) to pick up great deals on SEVENTEEN of my best titles. All books are $2.50 or less. Each is a full-length novel (not a novella). 

First up, check out these Austen-inspired title. 

dpcover2CFWP Crop2Darcy’s Passions: Pride and Prejudice from His Point of View

Captain Frederick Wentworth’s Persuasion: Austen’s Classic from His Point of View


MDF Cover copy

EBD Cover Concept copy

Elizabeth Bennet’s Deception: A Pride and Prejudice Vagary

Mr. Darcy’s Fault: A Pride and Prejudice Vagary



Jeffers-H&H2Honor and Hope: A Contemporary Pride and Prejudice 11004710_10205865004207221_1135780387_n

[It’s not part of my sale, but check out Evie Cotton’s Specialty Soap “North Carolina Homecoming,” made especially for “Honor and Hope.” ~ See earlier post on the soap’s release.]


These Regency Romances are also part of the sale:

If you have not had the opportunity to enjoy the men of the Realm and the women they adore, NOW is the time.

The Realm is a specialized force serving the English Home Office during the Napoleonic Wars. The men of the Realm are far from being without their flaws, but you love them even more for their fallibilities. You will also admire the strong-willed women who claim their hearts. The Realm returned to England to claim their titles and a bit of happiness, but a long time enemy, Shaheed Mir, swears one of them stole a fist-size emerald, and the Baloch warlord means to have it back. The series is made of up…

ATOV eBook Cover
ATOS eBook Cover ConceptA Touch of Scandal: Book 1 of the Realm Series (aka The Scandal of Lady Eleanor) [James Kerrington, Viscount Worthing, and Lady Eleanor
Fowler’s story]

A Touch of Velvet: Book 2 of the Realm Series [Brantley Fowler, the Duke of Thornhill, and Miss Velvet Aldridge’s story]


ATOCcrop2ATOGraceCrop2A Touch of Cashémere: Book 3 of the Realm Series [Marcus Wellston, the Earl of Berwick, and Miss Cashémere Aldridge’s story]

A Touch of Grace: Book 4 of the Realm Series [Gabriel Crowden, the Marquis of Godown, and Miss Grace Nelson’s story]



ATOMCrop3A Touch of Mercy: Book 5 of the Realm Series [Aidan Kimbolt, Viscount Lexford, and Miss Mercy Nelson’s story]

A Touch of Love: Book 6 of the Realm Series [Sir Carter Lowery and Mrs. Lucinda Rightnour Warren’s story]


ATOHCrop2A Touch of Honor: Book 7 of the Realm Series [Baron John SwHAHSenton and Miss Lucinda Neville’s story]

His American Heartsong: A Companion Novel to the Realm Series [Lawrence Lowery, Lord Hellsman, and Miss Arabella Tilney’s story]


ATOE eBook Cover - Green TextA Touch of Emerald: The Conclusion to the Realm Series [Released August 24, 2015]

Four crazy Balochs. A Gypsy band. An Indian maiden. A cave with a maze of passages. A hero, not yet tested. And a missing emerald.

For nearly two decades, the Realm thwarted the efforts of all Shaheed Mir sent their way, but now the Baloch warlord is in England, and the tribal leader means to reclaim the fist-sized emerald he believes one of the Realm stole during their rescue of a girl upon whom Mir turned his men. Mir means to take his revenge on the Realm and the Indian girl’s child, Lady Sonalí Fowler.

Daniel Kerrington, Viscount Worthing, has loved Lady Sonalí since they were but children. Yet, when his father, the Earl of Linworth, objects to Sonalí’s bloodlines, Worthing thinks never to claim her. However, when danger arrives in the form of the Realm’s old enemy, Kerrington ignores all caution for the woman he loves.


Unknown-1FWCCoverjpgcropHis Irish Eve 

The First Wives Club: Book 1 of the First Wives’ Trilogy



In addition to Honor and Hope (listed above), my contemporary romance based on a reality TV show called “Second Chances” is also available.

SCCover2Second Chances: The Courtship Wars


Posted in publishing, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Celebrating Some of Our Favorite Austen Actors Who Have Birthdays in September!!!

party-clip-art-balloons-different-coloursHappy September Birthday to these Fabulous Austen-Inspired Actors…




Unknown-3henrySeptember 7Christopher Villers, who portrayed Tom Bertram in 1
983 Mansfield Park

September 7Henry Maguire, who portrayed Jack Wickam in 2003’s Pride and Prejudice: A Latter Day Comedy


Unknown-4Unknown-5September 9Hugh Grant, who portrayed Edward Ferrars in 1995’s Sense and Sensibility

September 9Julia Sawalha, who portrayed Lydia Bennet in 1995’s Pride and Prejudice



Unknown-3September 10Colin Firth, who portrayed Fitzwilliam Darcy in 1995’s Pride and Prejudice Unknown-4

September 11Alan Badel, who portrayed Fitzwilliam Darcy in 1958’s Pride and Prejudice (11 September 1923 to 19 March 1982)



images-2September 15Sabina Franklyn, who portrayed Jane Bennet in 1980’s Pride and Prejudice Unknown-5

September 16Alexis Bledel, who portrayed Georgian Darcy in Bride and Prejudice



imagesUnknown-3September 19David Bamber, who portrayed Mr. Collins in 1995’s Pride and Prejudice 

September 22Billie Piper, who portrayed Fanny Price in 2007’s Mansfield Park


Unknown-4September 22Rupert Penry Jones, who portrayed Captain Frederick Wentworth in 2007’s PersuasionUnknown-6

September 23Crispin Bonham Carter, who portrayed Charles Bingley in 1995’s Pride and Prejudice



2b03d4f0September 23Peter Settelen, who portrayed George WickhamTRiley_Tat1000_16Feb12_rex_b_1
in 1980’s Pride and Prejudice 

September 26Talulah Riley, who portrayed Mary Bennet in 2005’s Pride and Prejudice



2202857,tjUBdj3LNXhm0qAuo3TLB1ygUfTrZOGQXAeMS1OawmjRfXEvlZLprOD9Mx5Ha3GHNTcYybJh04GQPbBKSvfyoQ==Unknown-3September 26Edmund Gwenn, who portrayed Mr. Bennet in 1940’s Pride and Prejudice (26 September 1877 to 6 September 1959)

September 27Gweyneth Paltrow, who portrayed Emma Woodhouse in 1996’s film version of Emma


Unknown-4September 29Greer Garson, who portrayed Elizabeth Bennet in 1940’s Pride and Prejudice (29 September 1904 to 6 April 1996)

Posted in film adaptations, Jane Austen, real life tales, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Late Regency/Early Victorian Era Cottages for the Working Man

The Working Man’s Cottage During the Regency

Birmingham back-to-backs, now preserved, showing the shop fronts and the entrance to the courtyard

Birmingham back-to-backs, now preserved, showing the shop fronts and the entrance to the courtyard

By the time George IV took the reins as the Prince Regent, England was the most powerful industrial nation in the world. Centres of commerce sprung up, bringing with them an increase in population. By the end of George IV’s reign, the “working class” had come into its own. These workers demanded housing within the towns they worked. 

First paperback edition, featuring a detail from a 19th century aquatint by R. D. Havell. In the background John Blenkinsop’s locomotive can be seen. (Wikipedia)

First paperback edition, featuring a detail from a 19th century aquatint by R. D. Havell. In the background John Blenkinsop’s locomotive can be seen. (Wikipedia)

New parcels of land were developed within the urban areas, especially in close proximity to the mills at which the people worked. Speculators developed the land, providing housing to the semi-poor and collecting rents.

Oversight committees predetermined dimensions of the houses, but the quality of the materials used to construct the buildings and the workmanship involved were not. Builders often skimped on the quality of the work because the cost of building materials had skyrocketed during the Napoleonic War years. However, even after the war ended, the practice continued. There were large profits to be made and no one to stop the practice.

Typical across-street washing line arrangement with pulley operated from street level in Armley, Leeds, 2004 ~19th-century houses in West Yorkshire, 2004 in Leeds, Armley (Wikipedia)

Typical across-street washing line arrangement with pulley operated from street level in Armley, Leeds, 2004 ~19th-century houses in West Yorkshire, 2004 in Leeds, Armley (Wikipedia)

A jerry built house on Amhurst Road collapses, as reported in the London Illustrated News, 1862. © Hackney Archives (via Wikipedia)

A jerry built house on Amhurst Road collapses, as reported in the London Illustrated News, 1862. © Hackney Archives (via Wikipedia)

By 1839, records show an average of six people per room and 10 per house. The mortality rate was 21.8 per thousand. (The Period House, pg. 57). Jury-Rig houses – those with careless construction and inferior materials – were common. They were known as “Jerry houses.” 

No proper streets existed for much of this housing. Poor sanitation, rubbish piles, and lack of fresh air marked the houses – sometimes more than 100 in total per acre. Older buildings within the urban areas were torn down and multiple houses replaced them larger one. In addition, many of those who came to the towns from the country had brought their livestock with them. Pigs, chickens, pigeons, etc., took up what land was available and added to the smell and filth of the city.

Working class life in Victorian Wetherby, West Yorkshire, England. Bishopgate, a former slum area in Wetherby. (Wikipedia)

Working class life in Victorian Wetherby, West Yorkshire, England.
Bishopgate, a former slum area in Wetherby. (Wikipedia)

Within what seemed a closed and rigid social structure the working classes constructed their own exclusive world, remote from the acquisitive, accumulative impulses of the Victorian economy. In part, it was an escape from the harshness of the real world, in part an attempt to create community in the anonymity of the industrial town. Ultimately, through the growth of education and democracy, improvements in living standards, working conditions, housing, food and dress, the working classes became, to a degree, participant members of society, but for most of the period covered by these writings [1820-1920] they were both excluded, and excluded themselves, from public life. Behind the great public institutions and images of the Victorian age the working classes inhabited an inner, secret life which perpetuated traditional values and patterns of behaviour, essentially of rural origin, into the new urban industrial society. In past times almost the whole of life, including work, had gone forward within the circle of the family; increasingly, as the nineteenth century progressed, though much less quickly than is commonly supposed, work became separated from the family and the home, and the new cult of work sought to erect it into the centre of human existence. The working classes, it seems, for long rejected this unpalatable and alien notion. [18-19] (The Victorian Web)

Posted in architecture, British history, Great Britain, Living in the Regency, real life tales, Regency era, Victorian era | Tagged , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Welcoming Black Opal Author, Dan Barrett and the Release of “Can’t Sing or Dance” + a Giveaway


Today I welcome another Black Opal Books authordanb-200x300_200x300_cbresized: Daniel J. Barrett (Dan). 

Daniel J. Barrett was born in Rutland, Vermont, and lived his entire life in Troy, New York, ten miles north of Albany. He grew up in a blacktop construction company, working on construction during his teen years and then through college. What he learned about life came from these early years working in the summer heat with construction workers, who taught him that hard work paid off.

Dan is a graduate of both Siena College in Loudonville, N.Y. with a BS in Finance, and of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y, with an MBA in Management. He had a varied career, first as a commercial banker, then as the chief accountant and manager of financial and strategic planning for a large division of a major international corporation. He has had extensive international experience, traveling worldwide.

Dan also served as the first executive director for economic development for a county in New York State, and as the first lay director for a Catholic shrine in Massachusetts. For the last twenty-five years, he served as a financial, strategic planning, and educational consultant to corporations, non-profit organizations, colleges and universities, and government agencies.

Currently, he serves as a grant writing and development and strategic planning consultant for several non-profit organizations in the Capital Region of New York State. Dan continues to live in Troy with his wife of 45 years, Sandy. They have three children, Sean, Eileen, and Ryan, and four grandchildren, Shannon, Caden, Megan, and Declan.

An avid reader, and inspired by numerous authors, Dan has read over 1,500 books in the last several years in preparation to write his first novel, Conch Town Girl, published by Black Opal Books on November 1, 2014. He continues to work as a grant writer and s an education consultant, serving those most at risk in the Capital Region of New York State, while  working on his next novel.

As a new member of the International Thriller Writers (ITW) Debut Author Program, Mr. Barrett has his  book, Conch Town Girl, showcased in the ITW’s January 2015 Newsletter sent to over 24,000 authors and readers.

Dan’s books include: Conch Town Girl [released November 1, 2014 (Book 1)] and Can’t Sing or Dance [released May 2, 2015 (Book 2)]. Upcoming books in his series include:  Taking Care of Your Own [To be released fall 2015 Book 3]; Never Say Never [To be released spring 2016 Book 4]; and Death But No Taxes: Prequel [after Book 4].

Dan tells us something of his inspiration for writing…

For many years, I was fully involved with our children, sports, and coaching, working and everyday life. Seven years ago, I decided that I was tired of television, other than watching baseball, and I started reading books. I’ve read 1,700 books over that time period. I wanted to learn what made a great book fun to read. I’ve read over 450 different authors over a wide range of genres.

After reading so many books, I took the plunge and began writing novels in 2013. I’ve always learned the hard way, so I transferred writing grants to my desire to create fiction. After reading so many books, I thought I could write one. Just one. That one turned into five books in two tears and three months. I love series because a reader can pick up where he left off. He knows the characters and likes them. That’s why I started to write about Joe Traynor from Troy, New York. Julie Chapman quickly followed and became the basis for the Conch Town Girl series, named by Amazon, not me. I simply wanted to prove something to myself-that I could write a book. Writing wound up being a large part of my life. I love it! The marketing and sales portions of the equation, I don’t enjoy so much. At 67, I accomplished more than I ever thought I would and I am very happy about that. Where it takes me, I don’t know, but my expectations at 67 are a lot different from when I was 40. I am now along for the ride- not driving the bus.

What’s the craziest, bravest, or stupidest thing you’ve ever done?

I was cleaning my chimney for our fireplace when I was about 30. I was standing on the roof over the dormer from the second floor. My brother came by and I started talking to him. I forgot where I was and walked off the roof from the dormer. I started rolling off the side, hung on to the gutter and landed 15 feet later on my feet. I was okay but I had to excuse myself to head for the bathroom. I saw my father do the same thing 10 years earlier at his house. He was shoveling snow off the roof when he fell into an eight foot snow bank. Lucky. It must be heredity.

What do you write? You’re welcome to include your latest title (shameless plug).
I started a series starring a character named Joe Traynor. He was born in Vermont, raised in Troy, New York, and went to Catholic school. He received a full scholarship to MIT for math, but dropped out at the end of his first semester. He joined the Coast Guard and stayed 10 years. He met Julie Chapman when she was a 10 year old 5th grader in Key Largo. She became the second main character. I never sold the first book, Death But No Taxes, but now we are holding it back as a Prequel to the series. The book that came out first was Conch Town Girl and Amazon named the second book, Can’t Sing or Dance, Book 2 of the Conch Town Girl series. The next two books in the “Conch Town Girl Series”, Taking Care of Your Own and Never Say Never (to be released over 18 months) will be Books 3 and 4, followed by the Prequel. The series simply evolved. I had to keep track of everyone coming in and out of all 5 books, and there is a list of 175 characters over the 5 books. Once I started to write about Joe and Julie, the books simply evolved and followed their lives over time. I find that writing a series is easier than stand alone books that don’t tie into one another.

Tell us about your new release.
Can’t Sing or Dance, the second book in the series, follows Joe and Julie as they progress through their relationship with twists and turns due to Joe’s involvement in the Coast Guard as a Chief Warrant Officer and Julie as a teacher’s aide and writer with a Masters in Fine Arts from Brown University. What happened at the end of Conch Town Girl comes back full circle to haunt Julie, Tillie and Joe until Joe gets his Coastie buddies to help fix the problems created by Julie’s father.

What did you do with your earliest efforts? Did anyone read them? Do you still have them?

This appears to be a difficult question for many writers. Two of my author friends took 10 to 13 years before they were under contract by a national publisher. They are both relatively young writers who had and still have good support systems in place that allowed them the time, energy, and funding to become national well-known writers. I finished my first book one week before my 65th birthday, which was my goal. From there, I have written 5 books in two years and three months and placed all five under contract with Black Opal Books publishers. I am extremely fortunate to be connected to this national small press from Parkdale, Oregon. My friends have financial support and backing from their national publishers, but I have five books under contract in my later years. When I was 40, I never even imagined becoming a published writer.

Tell us something of the genre in which you choose to write. If you write in more than one genre is your approach different for each genre, in the manner you write, plot the book, or brainstorm ideas?
I read and write mysteries, suspense and thrillers. Hopefully my books convey a sense of loyalty among the characters. Love, friendship, faith and happiness seem to prevail throughout my writing. It is what I wish to convey. I never end a book with the reader wondering what happened. I do, however, end it knowing there will be a follow up book to the series.

What difficulties does writing this genre present?
Writing mysteries, suspense and thrillers means there has to be a thread flowing through the book so the reader knows what’s going on. There has to be twists and turns they may see or may not see, but become relevant as the story unfolds. One also needs more than one story to hold the reader’s attention. There are parallel stories in all my books that come together at the end. I have to keep track of the story and the characters so there are no mistakes in time or place or activity. That’s why I have my list of 175 names and where they fit into each story. It would be terrible to call someone “Joan” in Chapter 1 and “June” in Chapter 30. Spell check doesn’t fix this.

51j4YRRwH7L._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Can’t Sing or Dance

Retired Chief Petty Officer Tom Jones was murdered in his apartment complex in Orlando in what appeared to be a “drug deal gone bad.” The police won’t even do an autopsy on a dead drug dealer. Coast Guard Chief Warrant Officer Joe Traynor is asked by Tom’s daughter to look into his death. His investigation ultimately leads to the largest meth case on the southeastern seaboard. In the meantime, the Russian Mafia, unhappy with being ripped off by Julie Chapman’s father, seek revenge. Her father’s death, once again, comes back to haunt her and her grandmother, Tillie, placing their lives—and Joe’s—in danger.

Excerpt from Can’t Sing or Dance (Book 2 of the Conch Town Girl Series)

Chapter 1

Coast Guard Chief Warrant Officer Joe Traynor walked into his office after lunch and was welcomed by the ringing of his phone. “Hello?”

“Hi, Joe. It’s Claire Murphy.”

“Hey, Claire. How are you?”

“I’ve got some bad news.”

“What is it?”

“My father’s dead,” she said, her voice breaking. “I just had a phone call from a detective from the Orlando Police Department, Violent Crime Section. The detective’s name is Jim Butler and he’s stationed at police headquarters on South Hughey Avenue, in downtown. He said my father was involved in a drug deal that had gone bad. He said Dad was a drug dealer and was knifed to death in his apartment. They found a lot of cash–a roll of large bills that reeked of cocaine residue–and a bag of methamphetamine pills in between his mattress and box spring. My father’s no drug dealer, Joe, and now he’s dead,” she sobbed. “That detective wants me to identify the body. Can you come up and go with me, please?”

Joe was stunned. “Slow down, Claire. I barely got the fact that Tom’s dead. Where are you now?”

“I’m home,” she said. “I didn’t know who else to call. I knew you and Tom were close, so you were the first one I thought of. I’ve got a list of his other friends and I was going to call the rest after I found out what happened. I don’t really know what happened and I don’t know what to ask. I’m sure Brian doesn’t either,” she said. “Joe, can you help me? Can you come up and talk to the police? Something is wrong. My father wouldn’t deal drugs but how do I prove that? Detective Butler was adamant and upset that he even had to deal with me. And that’s just not right.”

“I’ll need permission to go to Orlando from my assignment at Islamorada as head of investigations for south Florida and the Florida Keys,” Joe said. “It’s about 2:00 p.m. now, and I have to run to a meeting at the Islamorada facility. I’ll discuss the situation with Chief Warrant Officer, Jacob Cramer. I’ll contact Detective Butler and, if necessary, meet you in Orlando as soon as I get permission from my line of command.”
“Thanks, Joe. I really appreciate it. They aren’t releasing the body for a while. Orlando’s local morgue is backed up as it is. The detective said that with over 2,500 violent crimes a year in Orlando, Dad’s death can wait in line. They aren’t planning to do an in-depth autopsy for a dead drug dealer.”

After Claire had hung up, Joe took a deep breath and called Mark Silva, his best friend and fellow Coastie, still stationed in Fort Lauderdale. Joe had to leave a message on the answering machine. He didn’t expect to get Mark at home, and he didn’t want to bother him at his office. It was Mark’s day to be at the communications station headquarters, COMMSTA, in downtown Miami, for drug enforcement meetings with the feds and local law enforcement officers, up and down the Florida coast. Mark was one of the leaders of the task force.

“Mark, it’s Joe,” he told the answering machine. “Call me when you get a chance. It’s important. Thanks.”

Before his meeting with Jacob, Joe told Joan Talbot, his long-time friend and Jacob’s administrative assistant, about Tom’s death. She was horrified. She’d met Tom a few times after he retired when he’d visited the station with Joe.

“Joan, can you find out what Coast Guard facility is closest to Orlando because I want to be in on the potential investigation into Tom’s death, if possible,” Joe asked, hoping she could run interference for him on this. “I want to clear it through the chain of command.” He was in charge of all investigations for south Florida and the Keys, but not for the northern section above Palm Beach. “I don’t want to step on any toes, but I will if I have to.”

“I’ll look up the information right after the meeting,” Joan said.

They had five investigations going on at the present time and Joe was the lead in each case. It would be difficult to add an investigation that was six hours north in Orlando, but if Joe didn’t, no one else would.

Tom’s death and classification as a drug dealer, if true, would certainly give the Coast Guard a black eye and Joe wanted to fix this situation before they simply closed the file on Tom’s murder. Tom had retired from the Coast Guard in his early fifties, only a few years ago, and moved from Cape May to Orlando, to be near his daughter, Claire, and her family.
Joe thought about how to state his case to make it clear about the black eye. Police departments across the country were very reluctant to spend time and attention on investigating the death of a drug dealer. If Joe didn’t clear this up fast, the investigation would stall. Tom and his family would be tainted. And so would the Coast Guard. Joe didn’t believe Tom had anything to do with drugs. He also wanted to find out who killed him, and why. There had to be a reason. There was always a reason. Maybe not a good one, but something to point to the truth.

Joan walked down the hall to Joe’s office. “Joe, I got your information for you. We’ve several command sites up and down the coast that aren’t in our jurisdiction. However, all of those commands report directly to our own rear admiral here in Miami and then to the sector captain of the Jacksonville port. The chief warrant officer at Station Port Canaveral, Frank Cortez, reports directly to Jacksonville. I called the rear admiral’s office and explained the situation. He’ll meet with you at 0800 hours tomorrow morning. He’d just heard about the situation and he’s not pleased.”

“Thanks, Joan.”

Joe would probably be given all the time he needed because he was in charge of investigations, with a dual reporting system, first to the rear admiral in Miami and a dotted line to the Islamorada Chief Warrant Officer, Jacob Cramer. Joe went home to pack, not knowing how much time he’d need to at least clarify what had happened to Tom and what was needed from the Coast Guard, if anything.

Joe called Claire. “Hopefully, I’ll be in Orlando no later than 3:00 p.m. tomorrow.”

“Joe, don’t get a hotel. You can stay with us.”

“I wish I could do that, but until further notice, I have to remain neutral and take the investigation, if there’s to be one, where it needs to go to find the truth,” he said. “I’ll call you when I arrive and then we should go directly to Tom’s condo, if it isn’t still roped off by the police. Then we can go to the police headquarters to meet the detective in charge. Then we’ll go to the Medical Examiner’s office and identify Tom’s body if it’s not too late in the day.”

“Call me when you’re getting close and I’ll leave early from the Hollywood Studios office and pick up the kids at daycare,” Claire said.

Claire was younger than he was, Joe mused, and had a whole lot more responsibility. He didn’t know if he could’ve handled the responsibility of a family. It was something he needed to discus with his girlfriend, Julie, before long.


© 2015 by Daniel J. Barrett

William K. Sanford Town Library
Town of Colonie, New York (Capital Region New York State):

Interviewed by Joe Nash, Librarian, of Dan Barrett, Black Opal Books Author on how he got started writing at a late age, books read, and discussion of Conch Town Girl, first book of the Conch Town Girl series.

Purchase Links:

 Amazon: Conch Town Girl

Barnes & Noble: Conch Town Girl
Amazon: Can’t Sing or Dance

Barnes & Noble: Can’t Sing or Dance

Black Opal Books Web Page:

You may find Dan on his Website and Facebook
INTERVIEW QUESTIONS: Dan was very generous in answering a “ton” of questions for me. If you would like to know more of Dan Barrett, keep reading. 

What do you enjoy most in the writing process? What parts of it do you really dislike?

What I enjoy most is the writing not the selling of the book. I lose myself in the chapter. I look up after starting at noon and it’s now 5 PM and I had no idea where the time went. I look down and wrote 3,500 words over 15-20 pages. I shake my head and wonder how that happened.

How much time do you devote to writing each day?
I try to spend three to four hours a day when I’m writing. I am still a full time grant writer and education consultant. So, some days, I’ll write a chapter then answer 10 questions in my grant and go back and forth between the two. It’s impossible to drop my grant writing because a lot of people depend on me getting the grant in, winning the award to pay salaries that wouldn’t happened if not approved or even submitted. You are caught between a rock and a hard place. I’ll never be able to separate the two and just write novels. The funding of at-risk families means too much to me and those I serve to ever give it up.

Are you more of a plotter or a pantser, or does it change from book to book?
I don’t know if I’m either. It would be up to you to decide. Every day, I walk several miles for health reasons and as I walk, I formulate the book in my head and I always have two or three books outlined ahead. Like grants, I do a synopsis of where my characters are going. I write one line sentences that I want to explore, research or include. I list names that I’ve made up that I want to use in my books. I write them down. Then, I start writing Chapter 1. I try to write the ending. I try to write the middle. Then I take it from there. After a few chapters, I then start writing chapters separately after correcting the previous ones. I include the chapter before and the chapter after the one I am writing. In the chapter after the one I am now writing, I list where I am headed and who is in it and the research I did separately to include in that following chapter. So, every chapter, I know what was immediately before and what is to follow. I then see if it matches the middle and the end. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that I know where I am headed. I just don’t know what I am going to write until I write it.

Is it your characters (a character-driven story) or your plot that influences you the most?
I think it’s a combination of both. My series is definitely driven by my characters as they evolve as persons. Also my locations are as important to me as the characters. I want the readers to feel like they are in Key Largo, Miami, Nashville, Orlando and Troy and Albany, New York. I point out the scenery, how far it is from here to there. How long it takes to get there. The interactions of the people as they go to the schools, the Coast Guard station, the Waffle House and St. Justin Martyr Church. These are all real places where I place my characters. I want everyone to feel what it’s like standing in front of Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City on a sunny day. I think it gives the book a hometown feel so you can understand the characters better.

How do you choose your characters’ names?
Joe Traynor came directly from my background. The Traynor family came from Ireland to the United States in the late 1880s and went to Rutland, Vermont. That’s Joe’s background. I was born in Rutland and was raised in Troy, New York and went to the schools Joe attended (not MIT). My friend attended MIT on a full scholarship. My cousin was in the Coast Guard and I wanted to feature the Coast Guard because I have not read any mysteries that included them. You take from your own background, mix and match accordingly. In the International Thriller Writers Debut Author webpage, a question was asked how you pick names. We live in an area full of rich heritage from the Revolutionary War until this day. We have Irish cemeteries, Polish, Italian and any other ethnic background you can think of. My wife is Ukrainian. If I’m stuck for a name, I know where to go. 

How do you keep all your research information and plot ideas organized and accessible?
For each book, I keep a separate folder. I have used a Mac since 1990. In the folder, I have separate folders for list of names, narratives, separate chapters, contractions-yes there are 52 of them that you need to use, research, quotations, pictures, articles etc. I learned this from writing grant proposals. You have to be well organized to write a grant or a book. It is the same technical process, maybe not the same creative process.

What was your favorite chapter (or part) of your current project to write and why? 
My favorite section of Can’t Sing or Dance is toward the end when Joe decides to confront the Russians head-on . I enjoyed the planning process that he did. Joe has a photographic memory and is always a few steps ahead. He employs the latest technology available. When he confronted the head of the Miami Russian mafia at the Biltmore Hotel Sunday brunch, I was living the dream. I was there. I was standing next to Joe listening and hanging on every word. When I was done, I really thought I was with him. The dialogue, the answers were all mine through Joe. It was quite an experience.

How do you get past writer’s block or distractions like the Internet?
I don’t get writer’s block thankfully because I do my own distractions by writing grants in between chapters when I’m bored or don’t feel kike doing anything or have no idea where I’m going. It’s not a race with me. I’ll get there when I get there. I have to be on the internet and email doing grant research so I do all my writing on my computer. Some like to write it out longhand. That would drive me crazy. If I think of something, I’ll download the research facts and stick it into the chapter following the one I’m working on. It may not go there but it’s there when I need it. I may go back into previous chapters and clarify something with facts instead of the stuff I made up to fill in the space.

What was your favorite book from childhood?
I honestly never read as a child other than comic books. It was a different time. I was raised in a construction family. I knew more about blacktop equipment, trucks, rollers, rakes, shovels than anyone in my class. That’s why my SATs were never as high as they should have been. I didn’t know anything. In high school you read what you had to read to pass. It was not for pleasure. As I said, I read over q1,700 books in the last seven years making up for lost time.

Is there a book you know that you will never read? Or one you tried to read but just could not finish?
There are books written by writers that I know that I have a hard time reading because the books are not of the genre I like. I’ll read them because I feel obligated because of my relationships but it will be hard. I also will not read about serial killers, anyone who abuses children and young adults, murder for the sake of murder, too much violence and porn. Life is too short to waste your time. It is also a moral obligation that I feel strongly about.

Who has been the most difficult character for you to write?
I have a hard time writing about immoral people like the Russian Mafia, terrorists, drug pushers, unlikable people but they fill the pages of every book. I always wonder what has happened to those people over a life time, especially as children, that would make them the way they are.

Share a quirky fact from your research.
I like doing research for my books. It is very similar to reaching for grants. When I had to learn facts about DNA fingerprinting and how under new analysis you can tell about who a father is or mother because of the DNA in the fingerprint. I love reading about drones and how they can be programmed to do multiple functions unheard of before. A cute story came from the UCLA football coach who employed using drones on the field to pick up running and defensive lanes they never saw before. He said it would completely revolutionize football if only the coaches who were manipulating the drones would stop running them into the goalposts. It was quite costly in the beginning. It’s in the book.

What characters are lying on your “office floor”? Why didn’t they come to life on the page and do you think they ever will? Or why not?
I was going to write a book about the Irish in Vermont. Rutland, Vermont was the headquarters for the United States Air Force during World War II. Pilots were trained there before going overseas. As you may guess with as many Irish in Vermont as you may expect, there was also a very sizable IRA contingency there as well as throughout New York State and New England. During the war, I envisioned that there were several atomic bombs made, not just those that went to Japan. The plot consisted of one atomic bomb landing at the Rutland airport to head to Germany but the war had ended in Europe when it arrived. It stayed there uncovered for the last 70 years in an airplane hanger at the airport. The IRA, still in existence but now inactive in 2015, found about it. Then things happened. I had a hard time keeping all those Irish names straight and exactly what would happen. It may still get written eventually.

What is the best piece of writing advice you have ever received?
It was on a blog with Jenny Milchman a few months ago. It included John O’Connell and Lee Child. Mr. Child said he wasn’t always famous. He wasn’t popular until his 12th book became a best seller. He said just keep on writing. That’s what he did and eventually his 12th book became a bestseller. That’s what I will do regardless of books sold, fame, pressure or whatever.

How much time does it take you to write a book?
I am extremely quick once I get rolling. My books average 60 days for the actual writing and the same for the correcting before sending it off to Black Opal Books for their 2 rounds of edits and the final galley. I am now taking a break because I have written 5 books in 2 years and 3 months and that’s a lot. I’m thinking about doing a stand alone and I find that much harder and may take twice as long to complete only because of the newness of the plot, characters and setting.

What do you see as the challenges and successes of being traditionally published? Being self-published?
I would never try to self-publish because I don’t think you can get as far without the support and backing of a publisher, large or even small press. I was fortunate to get a small press interested early on and it has made all the difference. I write grants by myself because there is no one else to help with the process. It is a very lonely experience. You can only share the joy when you win. You have no one to talk to when things aren’t going well. I find I need that boost.

Any funny “researching your book stories” to share with readers?
Well at one point, I was scared to death on what popped up on my screen. I have to do a lot of research on gangs like the Mexican Mafia, the Columbians, the Russians, the Haitians etc. I was doing research on ISIS and terrorists in the US and a big disclaimer hit my screen warning me not to go any further or I would be in big trouble. I don’t think if the FBI landed at my door for doing research for my book it would hold any water. The moral: Be careful what you research!

What do you find is the hardest part of writing?
Contractions. I’ll be glad to pass along my list of 52 contractions. You need every one of them for dialogue. Without contractions you will not be received well. It will not read like dialogue. So, as soon as I do a chapter, I pop up the list and then go one by one for the entire chapter to get them right. It takes a lot of time but it is needed.

What will you be working on next?
See above. I’ll work on the 6th Book of the Conch Town Girl series, Mallory Square and a stand alone, You Don’t Know Jack. It’s also the fall 2015 and grants are nonstop for a while and I’ll have to balance the two. I am three books ahead of my editor at this point so I’ll start enjoying being 67 if I can. 

What other books (either fiction or nonfiction) could you recommend?
MY favorite book, after all these years, is still Richard Russo’s Straight Man. It is the funniest non-funny novel ever written. I have my list of 495 authors that I have read. There are about 35-40 of them that I will immediately read anything they write as soon as they release their next books. It is unfair to other authors to recommend a list. Just because I don’t like it, it is still published and there are only 30,000 published authors worldwide out of a few billion people. It takes a lot of energy and patience to write a book. So, I would never give a book a bad rating in public. It’s just the way I am. If someone feels a need to rate something badly, think twice before doing it. Think about the time, effort and logistics put in place to publish it. It depends on a lot of people. The writer is only one small part of the equation. You may not like it but don’t ever discourage someone else from reading it and making up their own mind.

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Anglo-Norman Literature: Ballads (Part 2)

Part 1 on Ballads may be found HERE. The earlier post covered the popular ballads of “Riddles Wisely Expounded,” “The Wife of Usher’s Well,” “Edward,” “Robin Hood and the Monk,” “Robin Hood and Guy of Gisborne,” “Robin Hood’s Death,” “The Douglas Tragedy,” and “Sir Patrick Spens.”

In summary, let us say that, “A ballad is a form of verse, often a narrative set to music. Ballads derive from the medieval French chanson balladée or ballade, which were originally “dancing songs”. Ballads were particularly characteristic of the popular poetry and song of the British Isles from the later medieval period until the 19th century and used extensively across Europe and later the Americas, Australia and North Africa.

“The ballad derives its name from medieval French dance songs or “ballares” (L: ballare, to dance), from which ‘ballet’ is also derived, as did the alternative rival form that became the French ballade. As a narrative song, their theme and function may originate from Scandinavian and Germanic traditions of storytelling that can be seen in poems such as Beowulf. Musically they were influenced by the Minnesinger. The earliest example of a recognisable ballad in form in England is “Judas” in a 13th-century manuscript.

“Many ballads were written and sold as single sheet broadsides. The form was often used by poets and composers from the 18th century onwards to produce lyrical ballads. In the later 19th century the term took on the meaning of a slow form of popular love song and is now often used for any love song, particularly the pop or rock power ballad.”

Ballads belong to three classes: Historical (i.e., Robin Hood cycle); Romantic (i.e., Douglas Tragedy), and Supernatural (i.e., Wife of Usher’s Well).

Other popular ballads of the time include…

“The Three Ravens” is an English folk ballad first published in 1611, but likely is older. It was found in Thomas Ravenscroft’s song book Melismata. Francis James Child recorded several version in Child Ballads. This one is softer and more sentimental than those previously mentioned in Part 1. One of the crows tells a tale of a knight lying dead in the meadow. His body is being guarded by his loyal hawks and his hounds. A doe heavy with child sees him there. The doe is a metaphor for the knight’s lover, who is also heavy with child. The doe kisses his wounds before dragging him away to bury him. Symbolically, this represents the tragedy of true love. The ballad can sometimes be found with a similar story line but having only two ravens, “Twa Corbies.” 

There were three rauens sat on a tree,
downe a downe, hay downe, hay downe,
There were three rauens sat on a tree,

Arthur Rackham - Rackham, Arthur: “Some British Ballads” (1919) ~ Public Domain via Wikipedia

Arthur Rackham – Rackham, Arthur: “Some British Ballads” (1919) ~ Public Domain via Wikipedia

with a downe,
There were three rauens sat on a tree,
They were as blacke as they might be.
With a downe, derrie, derrie, derrie, downe, downe.
The one of them said to his mate,
Where shall we our breakfast take?
Downe in yonder greene field,
There lies a Knight slain under his shield,
His hounds they lie downe at his feete,
So well they can their Master keepe,
His Hawkes they flie so eagerly,
There’s no fowle dare him come nie
Downe there comes a fallow Doe,
As great with yong as she might goe,
She lift up his bloudy head,
And kist his wounds that were so red,
She got him up upon her backe,
And carried him to earthen lake,
She buried him before the prime,
She was dead her self ere euen-song time.
God send euery gentleman,
Such haukes, such hounds, and such a Leman (Bartleby)

The hero of “The Kemp Owyne” is likely Sir Ywain from the Arthurian legend,

Yvain unwittingly battles Gawain, from Chrétien's Yvain, the Knight of the Lion ~ Public Domain via Wikipedia

Yvain unwittingly battles Gawain, from Chrétien’s Yvain, the Knight of the Lion ~ Public Domain via Wikipedia

although this tale does not appear as part of the Anglo-Norman romances. In the tale, the stepmother, who is termed as “the worst woman in Christendom,” curses the heroine Isabel and casts Isabel into the sea. Isabel becomes a fire dragon. In some versions of the story, the stepmother turns Isabel into a worm (dragon). Some scholars associate this tale with “The Laidly Worm of Spindleston Heugh.” Joseph Jacobs collected the tale and included it in his collection, English Fairy Tales from the ballad “Kempion.” “The Laidly Worm…” is a localized version of the ballad of “Kemp Owyne,” which is a version of the Icelandic tale of Áslól and Hjálmtèr. 

Isabel will remain a dragon until the king’s son arrives and kisses her three times. Isabel offers the prince three gifts (a belt, a ring, and a sword) to kiss her. With the third kiss, Isabel returns to her human form.  Her breath was strong, her hair was long/but the knight stepped in to give her kisses one, two, three/And smilingly she came about/As fair a woman as fair could be. 

“Historical ballads date mainly from the period 1550–750, though a few, like ‘The Battle of Otterburn,’ celebrate events of an earlier date, in this case 1388. ‘The Hunting of the Cheviot,’ recorded about the same time and dealing with the same campaign, is better known in a late broadside version called ‘Chevy Chase.'” [Encyclopedia Britannica] In this tale we find the bold Percy [English] opposed to bold Douglas [Scottish]. The former wants to hunt deer in Cheviot and the latter means to prevent Percy’s doing so. Their armies fight and the English Percy and Scotch Douglas meet singly. A stray arrow kills Douglas, and Percy laments the death of his most brave rival. A Scottish knight kills Percy. 

“The border balls that styles itself ‘The Hunting of the Cheviot’ is preserved in a single copy only, in Bodleian Library MS Ashmole 48, col. 15v – 18 v. The MS is of about the 1560, but the ballad itself may be as much as a hundred years older, and was transmuted orally by minstrels for nearly a century. The extant text of it was provided by Richard Sheale (or Shayle), a minstrel of Tamworth who flourished in the time of Queen Elizabeth.” [English Studies, Volume 72, Issue 5]

In “Thomas Rymer and the Queen of Elfland,” “Thomas the Rhymer or ‘True Thomas’, was a legendary character said to be the author of many verses that predicted the future. The character is thought to be based on a real person -Thomas Rimor de Ercildoun or Thomas Learmonth. He was a 13th century Scottish laird and poet, born around 1220, near Ercildoune, now Earlston in Berwickshire.” (Myths and Legends) In the tale, True Thomas must ride off with a lady brisk and bold, the Queen of Elfland and there serve her for seven pleasant years. 

“The myth is essentially a ‘fairy story’ but one which seeks to explain how Thomas was able to predict some of the most important events in Scottish history. The ‘fairies’ gift’ changes his life and gives him extraordinary powers. Many years ago it would have been thought that such abilities must have a supernatural cause. Several different versions of the story exist but there are common threads running through every variation. Thomas is transported to Fairyland, where he serves the queen until she tells him to return with her. He returns with the ability to foretell the future. This may seem a strange explanation to many people today, but many years ago belief in the fairy kingdom was widespread. This is not the only tale of a fairy woman capturing a handsome man. It has many elements in common with the Arthurian legend of Morgan le Fay and Ogier Le Danois and another Scottish ‘Tom’ captured by the Faerie Queen in ‘Tam Lin.’ In both stories there is a beautiful fairy Queen, time is different in fairyland, and there are warnings about speech and behavior. (Myths and Legends)

(c) Laing Art Gallery; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation ~ BBC - Your Paintings - Johnny Armstrong (d.1530)

(c) Laing Art Gallery; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation ~
BBC – Your Paintings – Johnny Armstrong (d.1530)

“Johnnie Armstrong” tells the tale of the Scotttish folk-hero Johnnie Armstrong of Gilnockie, who King James V captured and hanged in 1530. In the tale, the king sends a letter to Johnnie demanding Armstrong’s presence at court. Thinking this is an honor, Johnnie and his men dress richly as befitting the court. Armstrong asks for a pardon, but the kind threatens to arrest him. Johnnie and his men, numbering eight score, take up arms against the king’s men. In the end, the Scots are all killed, with Armstrong being stabbed from behind. When word reaches Armstrong’s home, Johnnie’s young son swears revenge upon the king. 

“Sweet William’s Ghost” is an English Ballad and folk song which exists in many lyrical variations and musical arrangements. Early known printings of the song include Allan Ramsay’s The Tea-Table Miscellany in 1740 and Thomas Percy’s Reliques of Ancient English Poetry in 1765. Percy believed that the last two stanzas of the version he published were later additions, but that the details of the story they recounted (specifically the death of Margaret upon William’s grave) were original. [Wikipedia] In the tale, a ghost comes to Margret’s door. It was her lover William. The ghost asked Margret to release him from his promise to marry him. Margret insists she will hold him to the promise, but he says he cannot for he is dead. She insists upon a kiss, but William says a kiss would kill her. William says a hellhound will destroy him if Margret does not free him. In some versions, Margret follows William into the grave. In others, they find her dead upon his grave. O stay, my only true-love, stay!/The constant Margret cried. 

“Bonnie George Campbell” [aka “Bonnie James Campbell”] tells the tale of a man who rides out to fight his enemy, but only his horse returns. His wife and mother grieve for their loss.  

Hie upone Highlands,
and lay upon tay.
Bonnie George Campbell
rode out on a day.
He saddled, and bridled,
so gallant rode he.
And hame cam his guid horse,
but never cam he.
Out cam his mother dear,
greeting fu sair.
Out cam his bonnie bryde,
riving her hair.
“The meadow lies green,
and the corn is unshorn.
The barn, it is empty,
the baby unborn!”
Saddled and bridled
and booted rode he,
A plume in his helmet,
a sword at his knee.
But toom cam his saddle
all bloody to see.
Oh, hame cam his guid horse,
but never cam he.

“There are countless versions of Barbara Allen. aka Barb’ry Ellen and Barbara Ellen [Bonnie Barbara Allen]. It is over three centuries old. It’s origins are somewhere in the British Isles, Scotland and England both claim it. Versions are found as far afield as Italy and Scandanavia. And, of course, the U.S. According to one source, there are over 98 versions of the tune in Virginia alone…. Samuel Pepys refers to the “little Scottish tune” in his Diaries in 1666.” [Contemplator] In the tale, Sir John Graeme fell in love with Barbara Allen. He sends his servant for her, but when she arrives, Barbara finds him dying. Graeme once slighted Barbara and so she shows him no kindness. tells us, “Barbara Allan” is a traditional ballad that originated in Scotland. The first written reference to it occurred in 1666 in The Diary of Samuel Pepys, where Pepys praises it after watching a stage performance sung by an actress. It appeared in a collection of popular songs compiled in 1740 by Allan Ramsay, the Tea-Table Miscellany, and then it was included in Thomas Percy’s Reliques of Ancient Poetry in 1765. But like most ballads, it probably existed in oral tradition long before Pepys’s reference or these eighteenth-century publications.

Mythopoeic Rambling: It was in and about the Martinmas time... Barbara Allen Kneeling in Sorrow by Edwin Austin Abbey

Mythopoeic Rambling: It was in and about the Martinmas time…
Barbara Allen Kneeling in Sorrow by Edwin Austin Abbey

“As are all traditional ballads, ‘Barbara Allan’ is a narrative song, or a song that tells a story. Ballads tell their stories directly, with an emphasis on climactic incidents, by stripping away those details that are not essential to the plot. In this case, the ballad tells of a woman who rejects her lover because he has ‘slighted’ her and hurt her feelings. As is typical, ‘Barbara Allan’ does not give many details about the background incident, but merely refers to it as the event that triggers the action. Barbara’s lover dies of a broken heart from her rejection of him, and after his death, she realizes her mistake. That realization results in her own death, also of a broken heart. Their tragic love seems to live on, though, in the symbolic intertwining of the rose and brier that grow from their graves.” 

It was in and about the Martinmas time,
When the green leaves were a falling,
That Sir John Græme, in the West Country,
Fell in love with Barbara Allan.

He sent his man down through the town, 
To the place where she was dwelling:
“O haste and come to my master dear,
Gin ye be Barbara Allan.”

O hooly, 1 hooly rose she up,
To the place where he was lying, 
And when she drew the curtain by,
“Young man, I think you’re dying.”

“O it’s I’m sick, and very, very sick,
And ’tis a’ for Barbara Allan:”
“O the better for me ye’s never be, 
Tho your heart’s blood were a spilling.

“O dinna ye mind, young man,” said she,
“When ye was in the tavern a drinking,
That ye made the healths gae round and round,
And slighted Barbara Allan?” 

He turned his face unto the wall,
And death was with him dealing:
“Adieu, adieu, my dear friends all,
And be kind to Barbara Allan.”

And slowly, slowly raise she up, 
And slowly, slowly left him,
And sighing said, she coud not stay,
Since death of life had reft him.

She had not gane a mile but twa,
When she heard the dead-bell ringing, 
And every jow that the dead-bell gied,
It cry’d, Woe to Barbara Allan!

“O mother, mother, make my bed!
O make it saft and narrow!
Since my love died for me to-day, 
I’ll die for him to-morrow.”

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