Child Birth During the Regency

AnAngelComes_LargeAngel Comes to the Devil’s Keep is the first book in a new romantic suspense trilogy: The Twins. It comes from Black Opal Books. In “Angel” there are several sets of twins. The hero, Huntington McLaughlin, the Marquess of Malvern, is a twin. Malvern and his sister, Henrietta, Viscountess Stoke, are fraternal twins, as are Henrietta boys. She is in the family way a second time in the book and obviously expecting twins again. Her husband, Viscount Stoke, is also a twin. Malvern’s father, the Duke of Devilfoard, possesses a twin. The second book in the trilogy, which will be released soon, contains a set of identical twins. It is called The Earl Claims His Comfort, while the last book, Lady Chandler’s Sister, returns to the idea of fraternal twins.

So, what does all this have to do with the “birth experience” in the Regency Era? Did you realize that during this period a woman would experience pregnancy some ten times. The women gave birth an average of six times during their lifetimes. Edward Shorter in Women’s Bodies: A Social History of Women’s Encounter with Health, Ill-Health and Medicine says, “The indifference of men to the physical welfare of women is most striking in regard to childbirth. …child bearing was a woman’s event, occurring with the women’s culture; a man’s primary concern was to see a living heir brought forth. I am not [Shorter] trying to cast the husbands of traditional society as fiends but want merely to show what an unbridgeable sentimental distance separated them from their wives. Under these circumstances it is unrealistic to think that men would abstain from intercourse in order to save women from the physical consequences of repeated childbearing.”

In her book In the Family Way: Childbearing in the British Aristocracy, 1760-1860, Judith Schneid Lewis shares some interesting facts of the time period. Ms. Lewis studied 50 aristocratic women for the book. From these studies we learn that these 50 women averaged 8 children over an eighteen year period. The women in the group married typically at 21 and gave birth to her first child within 2.25 years. They continued to present their husbands with children until the age of 40.

Ms. Lewis tells us that 80% of the women gave birth within two years of marriage, with 50% presenting their husbands with a child within the first year of marriage. On my blog, I have been doing a series on the signers of the Declaration of Independence. It amazes me how many of these men were from large families. For example, Benjamin Franklin was the youngest of 17 (although there was more than one wife). But Franklin’s family could not hold a light to another of Lewis’s statistics. The Duchess of Leinster birthed 21 children over a 30 year span. She was 46 years of age when the last one was born.



Typical of the period, a male midwife would ask the woman if she were prepared to “take a pain,” meaning a vaginal examination.  For this procedure, a pregnant woman would customarily lie on her left side upon a bed. She would be asked to draw her knees up to her abdomen. This was the position recommended by Doctor Thomas Denman, a prominent male midwife of the period. Denman also cautioned for discretion and tenderness during the examination. (Thomas Denman)

From the examination, the midwife could determine how advanced was the pregnancy, whether the woman’s pelvis was deformed or not, and whether the baby had turned head down. If delivery occurred within 24 hours, it was considered natural. We see much of what happened to Princess Charlotte (daughter of the Prince Regent) as how it was for women during the Regency.

Charlotte_Augusta_of_Wales“About 7 o’clock on the evening of Monday, the 3rd of November, at 42 weeks and 3 days gestation, the membranes spontaneously ruptured and labor pains soon followed. The contractions were coming every 8 to 10 minutes and were very mild. Examination of the cervix at that time revealed the tip of the cervix to be about a half penny dilated. On Tuesday morning, around 3 a.m., the 4th of November, Princess Charlotte had a violent vomiting spell and Dr. Croft thinking that delivery was eminent, sent for the officers of the state and Dr. Matthew Baillie. The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Bishop of London, The Lord Chancellor, the Home Secretary, the Secretary of war and Dr. Baillie, all arrived in their coaches and four before 8:00 a.m. But alas, the Princess was only three centimeters dilated at this time.

“The pains continued. They were weak and ineffectual but still sharp enough to be distressing, occurring about 8 minute intervals with little progress in the labor. Around 11:00 a.m. that morning after 16 hours of labor the cervix the size of a crown piece (probably 4 cm.) with think margin (effacement). At this point Dr. Croft began to worry that the uterus was acting irregularly and that some assistance might be necessary to bring about delivery. Thus a consultation was desirable. It had been agreed before that Dr. John Simms would be the consulting physician. He therefore wrote a note to Dr. John Simms, but put off sending it because he felt like contractions were beginning to improve. At 6:00 p.m., Tuesday, she was noted to have just an anterior lip of cervix, and by 9:00 p.m., she was completely dilated. At this point, she had had about 26 hours of the first stage of labor.

“At this point, Dr. Croft must have felt some relief for he could feel the ear for the first time; the head was noted to be low in the pelvis and Princess Charlotte was well. Nevertheless, the pains continued to be of poor quality and he sent his note to Dr. Simms summing him to immediate attendance. Dr. Simms arrived at 2:00 a.m., on the 5th of November after the second stage had been going on for 5 hours. Charlotte’s progress was discussed with Dr. Baillie and Dr. Simms and a ‘hands off,’ watch and wait type policy was agreed upon.

“Labor was advancing, but the progress was very slow. The patient was in good spirits; pulse was calm; the ‘instruments were in readiness,” but the use of them was never considered a question. At noon, on Wednesday, the 5th of November after the second stage of labor had gone on for 15 hours, the uterine discharge became a dark green color, which made the medical attendants fear that the child might be dead. Between three and four p.m. after the second stage had gone on for 18 hours, the child’s head began to press on the external parts, and by 9:00 p.m., was born by the action of Charlotte’s pains only.

“The child, a 9 lb. boy, was dead and had evidently been dead for some hours. The umbilical cord was very small and was of a dark green or black color. Attempts were made by Drs. Simms And Baillie for a good while to reanimate the child by inflating the lungs, use of friction, hot bathes, and other methods, but with effect. The heart could not be made to beat not even once.

“About ten minutes after the delivery, Sir Richard Croft discovered that the uterus was contracted in the middle in an hourglass form. The consultants agreed that nothing should be done unless hemorrhage should start. Approximately 20 minutes later, the princess began to hemorrhage. The uterus had contracted down so as to only admit the tips of three fingers, but with some pressure he was able to pass his hand with tolerable ease and peeled off the remaining two-thirds of the adhering placenta without difficulty and before much blood appeared to be lost.

“At this, Charlotte complained of this being the hardest part of the whole labor. Croft grasped the placenta; brought it down into the vagina and left it there. The Princess complained of pain in the vagina because of the placenta being left there, stating it was giving her great inconvenience and that it was protruding considerably. Thus the doctor removed the placenta from the vagina and this was followed by a moderate discharge of fluid and coagulum. At this time as well as he could feel from the abdominal wall, the uterus appeared to be moderately well contracted.

“Princess Charlotte appeared quite amazingly well as women commonly do after so tedious and exhausting a labor and much better than they often do under other such circumstances. For the next 2 hours Croft felt no apprehension. The patient took plenty of nourishment, made only a few complaints and had a pulse less than 100. It was felt by Dr. Simms (in his letters) that the patient had lost less blood than usual at this point. About 11:45 a.m., Charlotte became nauseated and complained of a singing noise in her head. She was treated with a camphor mixture. Shortly afterwards she vomited. She took a cup of tea and went to sleep for about a half an hour. At that point she became more irritable and more restless and began to talk somewhat incoherently. She was given at that point 20 drops of laudanum in wine and water. About 12:45 am. on the 6th of November she complained of great uneasiness in her chest and great difficulty in breathing. Her pulse became rapid, deep and irregular, and she extremely restless and was not able to remain still for a single moment. Attempts were made to give her cordials, nourishment, and anti-spasmotic and opiates. Dr. Matthew Baillie requested that Dr. Barren Stockmore (personal physician of Prince Leopold) see the patient towards the end of her illness. He was reluctant but at last went with him. Dr. Stockmore describes in his “Memoirs” that the princess was “suffering from spasms in the chest and had difficulty in breathing and was in great pain and very restless.” She threw herself continuously from one side of the bed to the other, speaking out to Baillie and Croft. Baillie said to her, ‘here comes an old friend of yours.’ She held out her left hand to me hastily and pressed mine warmly, twice. I felt her pulse, it was going very fast, the beats now strong, now few, now intermittent.” She commented to him, “They (meaning the doctors) had made me quite tipsy.” Near the end, Dr. Stockmore noted that the death rattle continued. The pretty Princess turned several times upon her face, threw up her legs, they the hands grew cold and she died.” (The Death of Princess Charlotte of Wales

An Obstetric Tragedy, Charles R. Oberst, .D., Spring 1984) (

2x6_bookmark - side 1Angel Comes to the Devil’s Keep

Huntington McLaughlin, the Marquess of Malvern, wakes in a farmhouse, after a head injury, 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 in 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 Angelica as his wife. Hunt must decide whether to permit her to align herself with the earldom or 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 at his side?

Early Review: The story is charming, with interesting and realistic characters, a complex plot with plenty of surprises, and a sweet romance woven through it all. The author has a good command of what it was like to be a woman in nineteenth-century England–almost as if she had been there. She really did her research for this one.

Nook           Kobo             Smashwords           Kindle            Amazon 

Black Opal Books {Print and eBook copies available ~ The print copy includes a signed bookplate.}

Barnes & Noble             All Romance      iTunes 

Giveaway: Leave a comment below to be eligible for a giveaway of an eBook of Angel Comes to the Devil’s Keep. The giveaway ends at midnight EDST on August 27.

Posted in Black Opal Books, book release, British history, customs and tradiitons, eBooks, George IV, Georgian England, kings and queens, legacy, Living in the Regency, marriage, marriage customs, medicine, Regency era, suspense | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Carolina Book Fest 2016, Arriving October 15, 2016

Carolina Book Fest Intro pic

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 10 AM until 3 PM.
This is the perfect opportunity to meet over 100 bestselling authors from all

Monster Mash (After Party)

Join us at 7:30pm 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.

Attending Authors

Here is our current list of attending Carolina Book Fest Authors! Check out to learn more about them!


Carolina Book Fest 2016Attending Authors 7_3 updated

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Life Below Stairs: Increase in the White-Slave Traffic

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The Stranger’s Guide, or Frauds of London Detected, 1808, London, George Andrewes.

Back in March, I spoke of the Fallen Female Servant, those young (often innocent) girls who were seduced or conquered by their masters. Today, I wish to speak of what the future held if the mistress of the house drove them from their positions without a character. These girls were always at great risk of joining the ranks of those populating London’s brothels. The proper Regency or Victorian lady may have found the young girls at fault for “enticing” the men of the household, but what of the woman’s responsibility to the girls? Where was her humanity? Often the threat of dismal was used as “incentive” to get the female servants to perform without complaint. Many young servant girls had no choice but to enter prostitution. These unsuspecting girls filled the disreputable registry offices. 

Some of these offices were run by legitimate charities that provided these girls with cheap accommodations while the girls waited for new employment. The girls would share space two others, but they would be safe and not on the street. 

Then there were those fringe registry groups, which were tracked by the National Vigilance Association and local police offices (during the Victorian era). These fringe registry groups recruited girls for the brothels. They used adverts claiming high wages and little work to draw in the unsuspecting. Like modern day scam operations, the owners of these false agencies would open up another outlet as quickly as another was shut down by the police. A name change and a new address and they were back in business. 


Prostitution – The British Library Touch for Touch: satirical print depicting a prostitute

Frank Huggett in Life Below Stairs (pages 124-125) says, “It was often difficult for the police to accumulate sufficient evidence to bring charges. The owner of one agency in Bishops Road, London, was ultimately convicted of obtaining half a crown by false pretences from an 18-year-old who had been induced to leave a good situation in Worcester in the hope of obtaining an even better job as a lady’s maid in the capital. Another office in Park Street, London, was closed by the proprietor before any charges could be made, after the police had begun to investigate complaints by girls from many different parts of the country. One London brothel employed a procuress at ‘a considerable salary’ to go out into the country to hire young girls, often with their parents’ consent, for some fictitious situation in the capital: on arrival, they were taken direct to the brothel, where ‘their ruin was effected.’ One London brothel keeper, a Mrs Harris, set up a fake servants’ agency on Slough-Windsor road and employed her sister, Mrs Barnett, to recruit good-looking local girls for service. After they had engaged, they were sent first to Mrs Harris’s highest-class establishment in Great Titchfield Street, in the heart of London, and then relegated in uneasy stages to the five other lower-class bordellos she owned in the capital.”

The servant industry increased the white slave trade on cross-Channel steamers in Victorian times. Girls from throughout the Continent were lured to London for better working conditions. Meanwhile, English girls, who knew the reality of domestic service, were lured to the Continent, where they expected to be swept up in silk and know fame and fortune. In truth, brothels on both sides of the Channel knew the influx of “foreign” girls. Girls less than age 21 were provided birth certificates to satisfy the official inspectors of Continental brothels. They were examined (usually by the procuress) prior to boarding ship to make certain they did not have some form of venereal disease. They were inspected a second time by a doctor upon their arrival. 

Cassatt_S2_1941-71.ashx While Cassatt celebrated bourgeois mothers and children, her male contemporaries turned their gaze to “public women,” the actresses, dancers and prostitutes of the entertainment class of fin-de-siècle Paris. Mary Cassatt

Huggett (page 127-129) says, “In the 1870s two of the biggest white slave traffickers were a couple who went under the name of Mr and Mrs Klyberg; they helped to stock the Dutch brothels in the Hague, Amersterdam and Rotterdam with fresh English girls at £12 a time. Many other girls were shipped off to Belgium. One sixteen-year-old housemaid from Brixton ‘with an open honest face, and a bright clear complexion, and healthy-looking, like an English cottage girl’ was procured in England in 1878. She was taken to Brussels where she was found two years later, by a British official, in a manson de débauche under a false name and sent back, not unharmed, to her parents in Chepstow, Monmouthshire.

“Estimates of the number of full-time prostitutes in London in the early years of Queen Victoria’s reign varied wildly from a modest eight thousand to ten thousand (by Richard Mayne, one of the Commissioners of the Metropolitan Police) to twenty thousand, fifty thousand, eighty thousand or even more. With such a clandestine and unregulated trade, there could be no certainty about numbers as new foreign and native recruits were being added daily to replace those decimated by death or disease. It is equally difficult to state precisely how many of them had once been domestic servants, though it appears that the proportion was very high. The London Female Dormitory admitted 711 women between 1850 and 1856. Of the 157 women and girls with known occupations, 130 had been servants; two governesses; and another two, charwomen: in all about 85 per cent. Another London rescue organisation found that about three-quarters of its clients had been domestic servants. (It should be remembered that the proportion of servants in the female working population was also extremely high.) Most of the prostitutes were young. Many in Superintendent Dunlap’s division were only twelve to fifteen years of age; of the first thousand patients admitted to Edinburgh Lock Hospital, 662 were aged from fifteen to twenty, and another 42 were under fifteen.” 

Posted in British history, Great Britain, Living in the Regency, Living in the UK, servant life, Victorian era, William IV | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Gavelkind, Inheritance in Opposition to Primogeniture

CompleteEnglishLawyer-185x300 2012/07/06/gavelkind-and- borough-english/

In the past on Every Woman Dreams, I discussed the 19th Century Entail and the legalities of primogeniture during the Regency period.  Today, I am adding the exceptions to the practice of the eldest son inheriting everything. Customs throughout the world vary. Some peoples divide their land and moveable property equally among all the sons, or among all the children, present it to the eldest, to the youngest, to the daughter(s), or to the child who cares for his/her parents until their deaths, or deal it out to each child when he/she marries.


More details Monument at Swanscombe recording the legend of how Kent managed to extract concessions from William the Conqueror. Wikipedia

However, in the county of Kent (yes, the Kent that is Lady Catherine De Bourgh’s home shire in Pride and Prejudice), Ireland, and Wales there was a system of land tenure referred to as “Gavelkind.” Gavelkind is a system of partible inheritance, which resembles Salic patrimony. [Salic patrimony, or inheritance or land property, after the legal term Terra salica used in the Salian code, refers to clan-based possession of real estate property.] Gavelkind appears to have its roots in some sort of ancient Germanic tradition. Under Gavelkind, land was divided equally among sons or other heirs.

These practices were in place until the Administration of Estates Act of 1925. Until then, there were a number of estates “degaveled.”

“All land in Kent was presumed to be held in gavelkind until the contrary was proved. It was more correctly described as socage tenure (or Borough English), subject to the custom of gavelkind. The chief peculiarities of the custom were the following:

**A tenant could pass on part or all of his lands as a fiefdom from fifteen years of age.

**On conviction of a felony, the lands were not confiscated by The Crown.

**Generally the tenant could always dispose of his lands in his will.

**In case of intestacy [Intestacy is the condition of the estate of a person who dies without having made a valid will or other binding declaration. Alternatively this may also apply where a will or declaration has been made, but only applies to part of the estate; the remaining estate forms the “intestate estate”.], the estate was passed on to all the sons, or their representatives, in equal shares, leaving all the sons equally a gentleman. Although females claiming in their own right were given second preference, they could still inherit through representation. [Hello, Anne De Bourgh!!! Plot Point!!!! It seems Miss De Bourgh could inherit Sir Lewis’s estate!]

**A dowager was entitled to one half of the land. [Another plot point! Lady Catherine De Bourgh could own half of her Rosings Park.]

**A widow who had no children was entitled to inherit half the estate, as a tenant, as long as she remained unmarried.

“Gavelkind, an example of customary law in England, was thought to have existed before the Norman Conquest of 1066, but generally was superseded by the feudal law of primogeniture. Its survival in one part of the country, is regarded as a concession by the William the Conqueror to the people of Kent.” [R. J. Smith, “The Swanscombe Legend and the Historiography of Kentish Gavelkind,” in Medievalism in the Modern World. Essays in Honour of Leslie J. Workman, ed. Richard Utz and Tom Shippey (Turnhout: Brepols, 1998), pp. 85-103.]

Wales held a similar custom to gavelkind. It was known as cyfran. Under cyfran, upon the landowner’s death, the property was divided equally among all the man’s sons, including any illegitimate sons. This dividing of ever smaller pieces of land by successive generations of sons created a sort of “Theban war” among brothers, according to Welsh historian, Philip Yorke. The Welsh eventually took up the idea of primogeniture, but the custom of gavelkind was not replaced completely. Like those in Kent, there were pockets of resistance.

The Irish system was closer to the tradition of tribal succession. Unlike the Welsh system of dividing the land among all the sons, the Irish placed the property into “common stock,” where the property was redivided among the surviving member of the sept. [Sept comes from Síol, a Gaelic word meaning “progeny” or “seed” that is used in the context of a family or clan with members who bear the same surname and inhabit the same territory.] Under Irish law, the land was divided among the landowner’s sons. It was the Norman conquerors who gave this Irish inheritance law the name Gavelkind for its apparent similarity to the Saxon Gavelkind inheritance found in Kent.

AnAngelComes_LargeSo what does all this have to do with my recent Regency romantic suspense release? In Angel Comes to the Devil’s Keep, there are multiple questions of inheritance. The hero, Huntington McLaughlin, cannot fulfill his duties to the dukedom because of a debilitating accident. The heroine’s father learns he is the new heir apparent to the Earl of Sandahl, a brother who despises him and will do anything (including murder) to prevent his younger brother from inheriting.

“Angel” is the first book in a new trilogy: The Twins. It is a “sweet” romantic suspense set in the Regency, which will appeal to a general audience.

Book Excerpt:

Another hour passed before Angel could speak privately with her father. “What did the duke say?”

Horace Lovelace frowned, and the chiseled hardness upon his lips took Angel by surprise. “It was an odd conversation. Devilfoard appeared both mollified and concerned over my reunion with Sandahl. Even so, the duke did not demand my withdrawal. In fact, Devilfoard summoned his duchess to his study and explained the situation. The duchess expressed a like determination to act in a responsible manner. It was as if I played a role in an intricate dance. As crass as it sounds to say so, I felt as if my appearance brought the duke and duchess to a new understanding.”

“But, Papa,” Angel protested. “The duke and duchess chose Sandahl’s daughter as Lord Malvern’s future mate. If the situation deteriorates, we shall be asked to leave. Would it not be better to depart upon our terms, rather than to be driven from the duchess’s festivities?”

Her father’s steady gaze made Angel uneasy, but she remained in place. “What is the truth of your objections, Angel? Is Lord Malvern your concern in this madness?”

“No, sir.” She dropped her eyes in submission. “But I would not have you humiliated. Mama would not wish it.”

“What do you know of your mother’s wishes?” he asked harshly, and Angel flinched. “Victoria suffered every day of our married years because our impetuous joining robbed both of us of the blessings of family. If Lady Victoria Lovelace were here at this moment, she would demand I face Carpenter again. My brother did all he could to destroy my marriage felicity. It will be good for him to know his disdain only served to strengthen Victoria’s commitment to my success. To our success.”

Angel’s bottom lip trembled. “What if my uncle chooses to challenge you to a long overdue duel? I could not bear to lose you, Papa.”

Her father gathered her into his embrace. “What, ho?” he said teasingly. “You think your papa too old to defend his family?” He chucked her chin lovingly. “Have you forgotten I am the youngest of Jonathan Lovelace’s sons?”

“No—o—o,” she sobbed.

Horace gave an uncharacteristic snort of disapproval. “If Carpenter would be so foolish, my brother would lose. I would have the choice of weapons, and although I have lost my touch with a sword, I am still quite accurate with a gun.”

It bothered Angel to hear her father speak with such coldness. This was a side of him she never knew. “You could not kill your brother.”

“In a duel, death is not necessary,” he assured. “Surrender is all that is required.”

“But if you would accidentally kill Lord Sandahl?” she pleaded.

Her father smiled with irony. “I would be forced to flee to the Continent or even go to America.”

“Do not jest.”

Her father embraced her more tightly. “Trust me, Angel. I find no humor in this situation. However, nothing worth possessing comes easily.”

She clutched his lapels. “Please promise me you will take care in this matter. If you did not consider it previously, you are now Sandahl’s heir apparent. He has no male heirs, and at Lady Sandahl’s age, she is not likely to present him with one.”

“I did not think upon the title in that respect. You opened my eyes, Angel.”

Angel Comes to the Devil’s Keep

Huntington McLaughlin, the Marquess of Malvern, wakes in a farmhouse, after a head injury, 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 in 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 Angelica as his wife. Hunt must decide whether to permit her to align herself with the earldom or 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 at his side?

Early Reviews

The story is charming, with interesting and realistic characters, a complex plot with plenty of surprises, and a sweet romance woven through it all. The author has a good command of what it was like to be a woman in nineteenth-century England–almost as if she had been there.

Angel Comes to Devil’s Keep is a well-written tale of courage and sacrifice and what women went through in order to marry well in Regency England. The author did her homework and it shows in an authenticity that we don’t often see in Regency romances.

2x6_bookmark - side 1

Nook            Kobo           Smashwords          Kindle           Amazon 

Black Opal Books (both eBooks and Print copies available ~ Print copies include an autographed bookplate)

iTunes         All Romance            Barnes & Noble 

GIVEAWAY: I have 2 eBOOK COPIES OF Angel Comes to the Devil’s Keep available to those who comment on the post. The giveaway ends at midnight EDST on August 25.

Posted in Anglo-Normans, Anglo-Saxons, Black Opal Books, book excerpts, book release, estates, excerpt, Georgian England, historical fiction, history, Inheritance, Living in the Regency, primogenture, Regency era | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Author’s Voice

Years ago, when I was still beating my head against the wall while teaching English in the public classrooms of three different states, I attempted repeatedly to explain “author voice” to my students. I encouraged my students to write with clarity and directness, but most of them chose to open up the nearest thesaurus and choose a “plethora of linguistic samples that accentuated their meaning, including long Latinate words and involved syntax.” The appropriate voice is the one that is direct, clear, and unstrained. To explain this point further, I will “borrow” an example from Jo Ray McCuen and Anthony C. Winkler’s Readings for Writers, a personal favorite of mine from some 40+ years back.

What if Patrick Henry had said, “It would be difficult, if not impossible, to predict on the basis of my limited information as to the predilections of the public, what the citizenry at large will regard as action commensurate with the present provocation, but after arduous consideration I personally feel so intensely and irrevocably committed to the position of social, political, and economic independence, that rather than submit to foreign and despotic control which is anathema to me. I will make the ultimate sacrifice of which man is capable – under the aegis of personal honor, ideological conviction, and existential commitment, I will sacrifice my own mortal existence.”  or

“Liberty is a very important thing for a man to have. Most people – at least the people I have talked to or that other people have told me about – know this and therefore are very anxious to preserve their liberty. Of course I cannot be absolutely sure about what other folks are going to do in this present crisis, what with all these threats and everything, but I have made up my mind that I am going to fight because liberty is really a very important thing to me, at least that is the way I feel about it.” 

instead of

“I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death.”

9780205309023_p0_v4_s192x300Another favorite of my teaching days was William Strunk and E. B. White’s Elements of Style. It was a standard in many college classrooms of the later half of the 20th Century. In it, Strunk and White make a case for economy in word choices [something that drives me crazy when I am writing for the Regency period]. “A sentence should have no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts. This requires not that the writer make all his sentences short or that he avoid all detail…but that every word tell.” 

Cervantes said, “All affectation is bad.” In other words, avoid embellishment. A natural unpretentious style is best. 

“A voice in literature is the form or a format through which narrators tell their stories. It is prominent when a writer places himself / herself into words and provides a sense the character is real person conveying a specific message the writer intends to convey.” (Defining Voice from Literary Terms)

Sydney Bauer on Sophia Learning says, 

The author’s voice is expressed through:

  • word choice
  • sentence structure/rhythm
  • the figures of speech that the author uses (such as simile or metaphor)
  • the author’s use of humor and irony

It is the personality of the writer shining through the characters, narrator, and descriptions.


Defining Voice

What is Writer’s Voice? 

What is “Voice” in Fiction Writing?

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Discussion of Land Inheritance and a Celebration of the Release of “Angel Comes to the Devil’s Keep”

AnAngelComes_LargeMost of us who have studied British history know something of the concept of Primogeniture, which is the right of succession belonging to the firstborn child, with its roots in the feudal rule by which the whole real estate of an intestate passed to the eldest son. I cannot write a Regency romance without knowledge of this process. As it was for centuries, a mans status in 19th Century British Society rested in the land he held. Land was a symbol of wealth and social rank. Therefore, the need to pass ones wealth to future generations increased with the number of acres of land that he owned. Land was influence, as well as affluence. To ensure ones descendants received what had been incurred, a system known as primogeniture was put in place. Primogeniture meant that all the land in each generations possession was left to the eldest son in the family rather than being divided equally among off the offspring. An entail assured that said eldest son could not mortgage or divide or sell said inheritance. It was to be held for his eldest son, etc., etc., etc.
Primogeniture developed during the Norman reign. By leaving the land to the eldest son, the estate would remain intact for future generations. It would also be economically capable of supporting a military force, which could assist the king. By the 19th Century, the King George III, King George IV, King William IV, and Queen Victoria had other means to field a military presence, and social status became the basis of the practice. Customarily, primogeniture was part of a gentlemans will or deeds of settlement. This practice remained intact until 1925, when it was changed by law.
The entail prevented a wastrel from selling off the family estate to pay his debts. An entail was defined by a deed of settlement (or) a strict settlement. The heir customarily received the land for his use ONLY in his lifetime. His rights ceased to exist upon his death.
Originally, many attempted to entail their properties until the end of the world, so to speak. However, the law would not permit infinity to stand. In practice, an entailed property only remained so until the grandson of the land owner making the settlement became of age at 21 years. Then, the heir could sell or give away the property. So, theoretically, the entail only held the land through the first and second generation of land owners. However, a little coercion often secured the land for future generations.
Most land owners (and their sons) held no other financial employment. If the property owners son wished to keep his allowance, he agreed to sign a new deed of settlement, which would assure the property remained in the family for the next two generations, etc., etc. This legal practice offered the landowner to see his property remain in tact for the “infinity” his family duties required. 
So what does this legal mumbo jumbo have to do with my latest romantic suspense release? More than you may suspect. In Angel Comes to the Devils Keep, the Duke of Devilfoard worries for the future of the dukedom when his eldest son, the Marquess of Malvern, suffers an accident which robs the marquess of parts of his memory. In addition, there is the issue of Viscount Moses assuming an earldom when no direct heir is available. The problem is once Moses is named the Earl of Sandahl he goes missing upon hishoneymoon. Has he produced an heir to the earldom and the viscounty? If not, which of his two brothers will inherit the titles? Reason says the elder of the two, but if you know anything of my writing, reason often becomes quite twisted.
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Angel Comes to the Devil’s Keep

Huntington McLaughlin, the Marquess of Malvern, wakes in a farmhouse, after a head injury, 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 in 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 Angelica as his wife. Hunt must decide whether to permit her to align herself with the earldom or 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 at his side?

Reviewers Say…

The story is charming, with interesting and realistic characters, a complex plot with plenty of surprises, and a sweet romance woven through it all. The author has a good command of what it was like to be a woman in nineteenth-century England–almost as if she had been there. She really did her research for this one.

Angel Comes to Devil’s Keep is a well-written tale of courage and sacrifice and what women went through in order to marry well in Regency England. The author did her homework and it shows in an authenticity that we don’t often see in Regency romances.

Purchase Links: 

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Black Opal Books (eBook and Print copies available ~ Print copies include an autographed bookplate.)

Posted in Black Opal Books, book release, eBooks, historical fiction, Living in the Regency, primogenture, Regency era, Regency romance, suspense, William IV | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Benjamin Franklin, Genius Signer of the Declaration of Independence

Ben-Franklin-portrait2-copy-235x300Benjamin Franklin was known as a printer and publisher, a writer, a scientist and inventor, a philosopher and a philanthropist.

The son of a candlemaker, Benjamin Franklin was born in Boston, Massachusetts, on January 17, 1706. He was the youngest son of Josiah Franklin’s seventeen children. His father attempted to teach Benjamin his trade, but Benjamin was not interested. He attended grammar school at age eight, but was put to work at ten. He apprenticed as indentured as a printer to his brother half-brother James, who printed the New England Courant. Reportedly, James was a harsh master, often beating young Benjamin.

Benjamin beat James at his own game. Franklin lived frugally so he could purchase books and educate himself. At age twelve, Benjamin published his first article. He wrote secret letters under the pseudonym of “Mrs. Silence Dogwood,” a middle-aged widow with very set opinions. As Mrs. Dogwood he wrote about politics, business practices, politics, and society, including fashion. James published the letters, which were very popular. Unfortunately, James had no idea that Benjamin was the author. Young Benjamin was an avid reader, inquisitive and skeptical. Through his satirical articles, he poked fun at the people of Boston and soon wore out his welcome, both with his brother and with the city. He ran away to New York and then on to Philadelphia at the age of 16, looking for work as a printer.

In Philadelphia, he took a position with another printer. He managed a commission to Europe for the purpose of buying supplies to establish a new printing house in Philadelphia, but found himself abandoned when he stepped off ship.

Ironically, although he had no formal education beyond the age of 10 years, Franklin was celebrated throughout Europe, welcomed in any Royal Court, sought out by every prestigious society. Through hard work and frugality he bought his fare back to Philadelphia in 1732 and set up shop as a printer. He started The Pennsylvania Gazette and also published an annual (beginning in 1741) entitled Poor Richard’s Almanack. Some of our most common sayings come to us from Poor Richard’s Almanack. For example, we have “Early to bed, and early to rise, makes a Man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” and “A Penny saved is a penny earned.” and “Three may keep a secret if two of them are dead.” and my personal favorite “If you would not be forgotten, as soon as you are dead and rotten, either write things worth reading, or do things worth writing.” Along with the Bible, Poor Richard’s Almanack was indispensable. The pamphlet included a calendar and planting advice.

He was appointed clerk of the Pennsylvania Assembly in 1736, and as Postmaster the following year. He was elected to the Pennsylvania Assembly in 1751 and served as an agent for Pennsylvania (and ultimately for three other colonies) to England, France, and several other European powers. At age 42, Franklin turned over his business to his partner and became a philanthropist. He promoted the first American hospital, library, and volunteer fire department in his beloved Philadelphia. He set the groundwork for the school that would become the University of Pennsylvania. But it was not only Pennsylvania that he served. He was a proponent of a colonial mail system. As such, the British Parliament named him Postmaster General. As an inventor, Franklin claims the lightning rod, bifocals, and the Franklin stove.

Benjamin-FranklinHe lived some 30 years in England and Europe. He spent time in London as an ambitious young man. In addition, he lived predominantly in London from 1757 to 1770, where he represented the views of the Pennsylvania colony to the British Parliament. While there he was awarded the honorary degree of “Doctor Franklin.” Artists painted him as a modern-day Prometheus, complete with lightning bolts behind him. The day after his arrival in England, Franklin was summoned to explain the colonial objection to the Stamp Act to the House of Commons. He wrote articles for the British newspapers in hopes of explaining the American point of view, but to no avail. He leaked anti-rebel letters penned by the Massachusetts royal governor. He was arraigned for disloyalty to the Crown in 1774, which resulted in nothing more than his being stripped of his Postmaster position.

He returned to the colonies in 1775. The Revolutionary War had begun. He was nearly 70 years of age when he accepted the role of Congressman. He was accustomed to life in England and Europe, and at his advanced age, he would often have a sedan chair (powered by four inmates from the local jail) carry him to the statehouse from his home. Franklin’s power was centered upon his ability to twist the written word to whip up the colonists. Moreover, he had the ability of print whatever he chose to share with others. He also joined fellow signer, Robert Morris, in financing the revolution. Franklin donated his pay as the American Postmaster General, as well as £3000 of his own money. 

17_medHe did fail in convincing the Canadian government in joining the revolt against Great Britain. Returning to Pennsylvania, he was appointed to the Committee of Five, along with Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Roger Sherman and Robert Linvingston, to draft the Declaration of Independence. Jefferson wrote the first draft of the document, but Franklin made one important change. He switched out Jefferson’s “We hold these truths to be sacred and undeniable” for “We hold these truths to be self-evident.” It was also Franklin who convinced John Morton to break the tie of the Pennsylvania delegation to vote in favor of withdrawing from British rule. 

In the fall of 1776, he departed for France to seek assistance from the French in the war against Great Britain. Franklin took two grandsons with him: Temple (age 17) and Benny (age 7). By this time in his life, Franklin was more than a bit eccentric. He took “air baths” for he thought going naked was good for his health. He wore a fur frontiersman cap to keep his bald scalp warm, which started a “fur cap” fashion statement among the French aristocratic females. He managed to convince the French to aid the American effort. 44,000 French troops served along with the American patriots. 

Franklin helped draft the Treaty of Paris, which ended the Revolutionary War. He signed the peace treaty in 1783. Benjamin remained in France until 1785. He returned to America to assist in drafting the U. S. Constitution, which he also signed. 


Cover for First Edition 1793 via wikipedia

Franklin’s personal life was a bit from step from other signers. Deborah Read, was his common-law wife. They were together for some 44 years. She died in 1774. He sired three children. Two with Deborah and one with another woman. His illegitimate son, William Franklin, Temple’s father, was the royal governor of New Jersey. In that role, William Franklin was imprisoned by the U. S. government in January 1776. Franklin refused to assist his son because of William’s alignment with Great Britain. William was released in 1778. In his waning years, Franklin wrote his autobiography, which was published in 1793. Franklin died at the age of 84 on April 17, 1790. 



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