Sunday, July 28, 2013

George, a name with a long and colourful history

With worldwide celebrations at the birth of George, Prince of Cambridge this week, it seems timely to go back and revisit the first of the Georges of the Regency Period with regency writer, Sasha Cottman
The Duchess of Cambridge and Prince George, July 2013

George III ruled from 1760-1820. Unfortunately during the final years of his reign, his mental health collapsed and his eldest son, later to rule as George IV became Regent.

A deeply religious man, he married Princess Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz in 1761, meeting her for the first time on their wedding day and remained faithful to her for the rest of his life. The royal couple had 15 children, and their two eldest sons reigned in turn after their father’s death.

King George III, Coronation Portrait 1762
In 1761 he purchased Buckingham House as a private residence for Queen Charlotte. Over time the house would be have significant extensions made and eventually become Buckingham Palace. Queen Victoria was the first British monarch to live at Buckingham Palace in 1837.

King George III’s reign is synonymous with the loss of the American colonies during the American War of Independence. English settlers in the American colonies were not represented in the English parliament and discord grew with the imposition of direct taxes on the colonies without their consent.

With the colonies declaring themselves independent of Britain in 1774, armed conflict followed. Over time the American colonies formed alliances with France, Spain and Holland and support for British rule in America began to wane in England.

George III eventually signed the Treaties of Paris in 1782 and 1783 recognising the independence of the American states.

The madness to which he would eventually succumb had its first serious impact on his ability to reign in 1788 and by 1789 a bill to form a Regency had been prepared. The King would spend hours speaking non-stop, while foaming at the mouth. At times he was physically restrained by his physicians and give poultices to draw out the ‘evil humours.’  To most people’s surprise he recovered from this bout of madness and the bill to form a Regency was withdrawn from parliament.

In 1789 the French royal family was overthrown and the new Republic of France declared.  The eventual war with Napoleon and the British victory at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 saw George III’s popularity at home reach its peak.

Unfortunately the King’s health continued to deteriorate and the death of his youngest and favourite daughter Princess Amelia in 1810, is thought to have triggered his final bout of madness.  By 1811, the King had become permanently insane and Parliament passed the Regency Act, effectively handing power over to the Prince of Wales.

King George III spent the rest of his life in seclusion at Windsor Castle.

After his death in 1820 he was succeeded to the throne by his son George IV.

George III lived for over 81 years and reigned for 59 of them. Since then only Queen Victoria and the present Queen Elizabeth II have lived and reigned longer.

Sasha Cottman loves the Regency period and blogs about her attempts to recreate recipes from the 18th and 19th century on her website (with mixed success). Her web site is and her debut Regency historical, LETTER FROM A RAKE is available as an eBook from Penguin Books.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Napoleon Out For A Duck?

Cricket Tragic John Frederick Sackville 3rd Duke of Dorset

One of the great things about being a historical romance writer is, of course, the history.

Just like the ad for a prominent genealogy company, one click leads to another and then all of a sudden your historical fact check - just who was the British Ambassador to France in 1790? -  leads you to the fascinating story of the cricket tragic John Frederick Sackville the third Duke of Dorset.

Like his father and grandfather before him, John was cricket mad and made his life's mission to spread the great game to the four corners of the world.

But for the pesky interruption of the American War of Independence and the French Revolution, the world game could very well have been cricket instead of soccer - er sorry, that should be football.

Considered the quintessentially British game, cricket has flourished in just about all of England's former colonies - Canada being the only noted exception.

But long before baseball got a toe hold, cricket was the game to play - and to watch.

Cricket broke down class divides - it might have been played aristocrats but it was watched and enjoyed by people of all social classes who made a day out of hooting, hollering, drinking, betting and admiring the physical prowess of batsman and bowler alike.

But not everyone was appreciative of Sackville's efforts to bring the civilising game to America. In 2010 Christies sold for nearly $22,000 a 1778 a pamphlet criticising Sackville's dedication to the game while England lost the American colonies:

    'Far from the Cannon's Roar, they try at Cricket, Stead of their Country, to secure a Wicket'. The anonymous poet's lines were directed against the Duke of Dorset and Earl of Tankerville as Britain was embroiled in the third year of a disasterous war with her own colonies in North America. A facetious dedication to the two aristocrats expresses dismay at their preparations for a new cricket season. ''Tis said that Nero fiddled whilst Rome was burning. -- The conduct of your Lordships, seems nearly similar. -- for Godsake, fling away your Bats ....' The couplets that follow continue to emphasise how wrong it is for members of the ruling class to participate in a lower class sport which 'beardless Boys with Beggars share'.

Not that such criticism affected Sackville any. His appointment as British Ambassador to France in 1784 was a golden opportunity to introduce the game to France, and it seemed he was having a bit of success, even organising a game along Paris' famous thoroughfare The Champs-Elysees!

The Times reported on one such match in 1786:

    His Grace of Dorset was, as usual, the most distinguished for skill and activity. The French, however, cannot imitate us in such vigorous exertions of the body, so that we seldom see them enter the lists.

So keen he was on the game, that he was all ready to stage the world's first international test match against France. Leading English cricketers of the day ready to make the trip from Southampton when they received the news on August 10, 1779 that Paris had fallen to Revolutionaries.

There the hopes cricket becoming the world game died.

Elizabeth Ellen Carter isn't that fond of cricket, but she does love her history. Her web site is and her debut Regency historical, Moonstone Obsession set in 1790 will be out later this year with Etopia Press .

Monday, July 22, 2013

Aussie Road Trip Day #3

Welcome back to Maryde's Road trip in and around our Great Country Of Australia...

It's Day #3 We spent a leisurely morning at the dam fishing, walking and relaxing, before deciding to leave Dumaresq Dam after lunch and headed further north mid-afternoon. We arrived at Glenn Innes late and spent the night in a tourist park about 10 minute walk out of town.
  The following morning we walked into Glen Innes known as the Scottish Capital of Australia. We had driven through this Historic town twice before on our way to Brisbane but we'd never taken the time to stop and scout around. 
  The township of Glen Innes came about in 1852, after the sale of the first lots of land. By 1858 there was a post office and court house.
Crofters Cottage
On both sides of the wide streets are wonderful buildings from the turn of the nineteenth century. Glen Innes is twin town to Pitlochry in Scotland.  Among the many heritage buildings there is also a crofter's cottage I loved the old buildings.

Town Hall
Standing Stones
 The Australian Standing Stones are a modern day tribute to the early Celtic settlers. The megalithic circle of stones is similar to those once used in ancient times and are the venue for the annual Celtic Festival held in Glen Innes on the first weekend in May.
The Standing stones are based
on the Ring_of_Brodgar in Orkney

I'd like to hear from anyone who may have Scottish relatives or family ties to Glen Innes.

Lovely old Houses
After strolling the streets and picking up necessary supplies for morning tea from the local Bakery, we left Glen Innes behind and drove further west. We passed through the town of Inverell, but this time we did not stop, as we were on our way to Copeton Dam.

 By Lunchtime we were driving across the dam wall and into Copeton Waters State Park. There were dozens of camping areas of varying degrees of comfortability. From delux cabins to basic amenities for those visitors who are self-contained, all you had to do was drive in and find your own spot. So we did ...
The National Park is so spacious that no-one needs to camp on anyone's doorstep, unless travelling together.
And for our overseas visitors there was an abundance of Aussie residents.
Afternoon visitors
We weren't without company of the human ... and animal kind

Still no fish in the dam - AGAIN -  so BBQ it was for tea. And as the afternoon waned the curious natives of the park came out in their droves to forage for dinner and pose for pictures. Even when we walked late in the evening the kangaroos were nibbling grass quite close to our van.
A fire was a relaxing way to end the day and we sat around till it died out. In the morning after breakfast, we packed up and left the park heading for the small town of Bingara on the Gwydir River, just a few hours drive away.

Monday, July 15, 2013

The Great Escape - Part 1 THE BATTLE OF WORCESTER

One of the world’s most thrilling “great escape” stories has to be the escape of Charles II after the defeat at the Battle of Worcester on September 3 1651. Just about every old house or inn on his route lays claim to having sheltered him and it has been the subject of many works of fiction (including the basis for my own BY THE SWORD).

The young Prince Charles had fled to the continent at the end of the first civil war (1645). There he kicked his heels at the court of his cousin, the young Louis XIV, very much the poor relation. His chance to return to England and regain his throne came in 1650 when the Scots, disenchanted by their former allies, invited him to Scotland. He was crowned King of Scotland as the Scots raised an army to defeat the English Parliamentarian forces. The Scots kept such tight control over their young King that his life was a misery and many of Charles’ most talented commanders were denied a role in this new army. After the Scots were roundly defeated at the Battle of Dunbar on September 3 1650, it is said Charles threw his hat in the air and laughed.

Undeterred by their defeat, the Scots Army marched into England. As they made their way down the west coast, Cromwell (the new commander of the Parliamentary forces since the resignation of Sir Thomas Fairfax) and his army raced down the East coast. They met at Worcester. The forces Charles had expected to flock to his banner did not eventuate. The King’s supporters in England had wearied of war and weighed down by debt and fines lacked the heart for another fight. The Earl of Derby bringing supporters from the Isle of Man was intercepted at Wigan and escaped with only a handful of men.

Charles dithered in Worcester as Cromwell closed in on him. At the age of twenty one he relied heavily on his advisors and their advice contradicted each other. The poor young King was harangued from every side…should they abandon Worcester and retreat into sympathetic Wales or stay and make a fight of it? The debates in The Commandery (a building that still exists in Worcester and is well worth a visit) raged on until it became too late to do anything but stand and face whatever Cromwell would throw at them.

Cromwell chose September 3 (the day of his victory in Scotland the year before) to launch his attack. The King’s forces failed to capitalise on Cromwell’s one moment of vulnerability when he sent half his forces across the River Severn to attack Worcester from the South while the main force attacked from the East. Watching the progress of the battle through a spy glass from the tower of Worcester Cathedral, dressed in his buff leather coat with a red sash and his Order of St. George around his neck, the young King ordered his forces out of the city to take on Cromwell in the field.

The Battle of Worcester
It was a bold move and leading his men, on foot, up the hill out of the Sidbury Gate, no one would question the King’s courage. He believed that General Leslie would appear with cavalry in support of his charge. Leslie failed him and after three hours of pitched battle, with Fort Royal lost, the King’s men began a mad retreat back inside the city. Sidbury Gate was blocked with an overturned cart, its animals dead in the traces. Undeterred the desparate royalists clawed their way back into the city as night fell with the parliamentary forces hot on their heels.

By chance Charles’ lodgings were in a house near St. Martin’s gate, the only gate still open to them (the house still exists - see Picture). Led by Lord Wilmot, a small, loyal band of his men, harried the shocked and desparate young King out of the city and north to an even more uncertain fate.

The fate of those who were captured after the battle makes a sad postscript. The Earl of Derby was beheaded, the Duke of Hamilton died of his wounds and the many rank and file of the Scottish Army were largely sent as "white slaves" to the Barbardos, Guyana or Virginia (ah yesl...the subject of another of my books THE KING'S MAN - can you tell this is one of my favourite subjects?). 

Next month…THE GREAT ESCAPE Part 2: “Read on and Wonder…” (Thomas Blount in his introduction to Boscobel written in 1660)

SPECIAL OFFER:  Both THE KING'S MAN and BY THE SWORD are undergoing a sprucing up, owing to some formatting issues with both books. Until the reformatted versions are ready to go up, both books are available (as Cromwell said "warts and all") on sale at US$0.99. Click HERE

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

HH Good News!

Again our fantastically talented HH members
have some wonderful news to share.

So without further ado we congratulate...

Joanna Lloyd has signed her 2nd contract
with Crimson Romance
for her historical romance,
release date tba

Annie Seaton has signed her 8th contract with
Entangled Publishing
for her paranormal time slip novel,
release date tba
Maggi Andersen has signed a contract with
for the second book in her
Regency Spy series,
The Spies of Mayfair, Book 2
release date tba
Vonnie Hughes has signed
a three book deal with Musa Publishing
for her Regency series,
release date tba


HH member Danielle Lisle
has finaled in the
with her historical romance,
The winner will be announced
at the RWAust conference.
We'll keep you posted on her entry's outcome.
Alison Stuart has had a nomination
in the paranormal, futuristic and sci-fi category for,
We'll keep you posted on her entry's outcome.

Janet Woods world war romance trilogy
has now officially released in America!
are available now in print and e-book.
Meggie Elliot is a young woman of above average intelligence, and on the brink of adulthood. Living with her aunt and uncle in London at the outbreak of WW2 she’s intent on going to university, then pursuing a career in law. She is encouraged in this by her solicitor – a man she admires a little too much. Too old for her, he lets her know it.
Meggie follows her dream as best she can. In a burst of patriotism she joins the WRNS to do her bit for the war. Sent to work in a decoding unit she meets the dangerously exciting young aristocrat, Nicholas Cowan, who sweeps her off her feet.

1933. Esmé Carr leaves her closely-knit family behind and travels to Australia with her best friend, in search of adventure. There, the young women learn the value of friendship, and compromise as they support each other through the good and bad times, to eventually find love. Left behind in England is Esmé’s adolescent niece. Meggie Elliot has an imaginative and independent frame of mind, but there is mystery surrounding her birth – one she intends to unravel. And this, despite her mother’s warnings to let the past alone in an effort to protect her only daughter.

When the truth surfaces it’s not what Meggie wanted to hear, and it takes Esmé to reconcile the rift between mother and daughter.

One woman - two loves. 1918
If it's not enough that a girl from a good background is forced to work as a maid, Livia Carr is then violated by the master of the house and becomes pregnant.

Her only course is to marry the son of the house. Richard Sangster is an invalid, a world war one hero. He is not expected to live, and he offers Livia and the child legitimacy, as well has his name and estate. Livia grows to love Richard, and even though it's expected, his death comes as a great blow to her.
Tea Cooper is celebrating the release
of her two historical stories,
available from Breathless Press
Available from Harlequin Escape
both available now!

An unconventional woman clashes with colonial society in this spicy and sweet Australian-set historical romance.
His carefree bachelor days over, Christopher Matcham returns to Sydney to take responsibility for his mother, two stepsisters, and the family property. Fortune smiles on him when he is introduced to Matilda Sweet, a woman in need of work. Though unusual, Christopher senses that her fresh ideals and positive outlook can only benefit his sisters, so he hires her as a companion.
By the time they arrive at Christopher’s family home, the two are fast friends. But Matilda’s unorthodox ways and her convict heritage make her a second class citizen to the family. Christopher has responsibilities, and they include an advantageous match. A breeches-wearing, fish-pond-swimming, plain-talking convict’s daughter will never do. After all, romance is a luxury the upper classes cannot afford…

Abandoned at birth, Atalantê, protégé of the Goddess Artemis is forced into an untenable position by her estranged father, the King of Arcadia - renege on her vow of virginity or condemn her suitors to a sacrificial death. The aristocratic courtier Melanion, cannot believe anyone would be foolish enough to put their life on the line for the dirty little predator whose reputation for speed and cruelty is legendary. That is until he falls under the spell of her lapis lazuli eyes. Consumed by desire and jealousy he is determined to win Atalantê’s hand or die trying. He calls upon Aphrodite to assist him, little realizing that her noisome brat, Eros has the pair of them in his sights and is determined to inject a little spice into their lives. Spice that will devastate the path of true love and incur the wrath of the virgin Goddess.

Christina Phillips is celebrating the release
of her Regency vampire romance,
Available now from Ellora's Cave!
Tired of the thin-blooded aristocrats in 1815 London, Alexius yearns for better sport. He is drawn to a dark-haired seductress who shows no fear and refuses to obey his commands. Entranced by such novelty, he denies his bloodlust and decides to keep her to warm his bed.

Immortal vampire hunter Morana has never mistaken her prey before, but the dark stranger mesmerizes her, enticing her to forget everything but the dangerous pleasure she finds in his arms.

Neither one can deny the pull of the other, but there is something beyond the lust—a recognition neither can put a name to. The past and present collide and unless they discover the truth behind the lies, Death will triumph once more.
Sasha Cottman is celebrating the release
of her Regency romance,
Available July 10 from Destiny Romance!

The unconventional Miss Millie Ashton, recently arrived from India, finds England a cold and dismal place. The fashionable ladies of London society look down their noses at her and it isn't long before Millie is planning her return to the country she considers home.

When Millie befriends the high-spirited Lucy Radley, she also meets Lucy's handsome brother, 'Alex the Great' and things take a turn for the better. Alex, the Marquess of Brooke, is considered the most eligible bachelor in London, yet he appears fascinated by the independent Millie.

Annie Seaton is celebrating the release
of her latest contempory romance,
Available now from Entangled Publishing!

Free-spirited sex therapist Brianna Ballantine has four days to find a fiancé so she can inherit her birth mother’s Italian villa. Commitment is not on the agenda. Writing her sex therapy book and signing legal papers are. And once all is said and done, she’ll return home to Scotland.

For finance guru Tomas Richards, relationships have been a bad investment—give him stocks and shares any day. When Tomas offers a marriage of convenience to help Brianna secure her inheritance, the sizzle between the sheets promises an affair to remember, despite family complications at every turn.

But Tom must convince Brianna to stay, and make this Italian affair a lifelong commitment.
I would recommend you all go out and buy these
You'll enjoy each and every one of them.
I promise!
Alison Stuart has revealed the print cover
for her historical romance,
Isn't it beautiful! Love it, Alison!!
Congratulations everyone!
And until next time
happy reading.


Monday, July 8, 2013

The Politics of Architecture

Classic Georgian architecture. This example is in York.
Classic Georgian architecture. This example is in York.
Posted by Elizabeth Ellen Carter

Did you know that the choice of architecture in the 18th century may have revealed much about your political and philosophical leanings as it did your personal taste?

The two competing styles around this time were the Georgian/Neoclassical and the Gothic Revival.

When we think of the Georgian period in architecture we think of the cliff-fronted rectangular buildings, the windows and doors of which follow strict lines of symmetry.

The American Revolution may have cut political ties with England but they didn't sever architectural ones.

There are a large number of old and important homes in the United States that carry those specific design elements - classical Greek columns, cornice with dentiles over the windows and quoins - the masonary corner blocks standing proud which are so distinctive of the Georgian style.

The interest in all things classically Greek was very much at the heart of the 18th century Enlightenment movement and liberal political thought.
For the first 50 years of the Hanoverian dynasty the same Whig aristocracy that controlled the government also dictated artistic thought. The splendid architectural achievements of Sir Christopher Wren and his followers during the reigns of the three preceding Stuart monarchs were in the extravagant and monumental Baroque style of continental Europe, which the Whig aristocrats eventually judged to be of questionable taste.
The Enlightenment/French Revolution fuelled Greek revival is very much in evidence in the fashion depicted in this 1808 portrait
The Enlightenment/French Revolution fuelled Greek revivalism
Interest in Greek philosophic and classicist thought became the hallmarks of the 'rationalists' and 'intellectuals' of the time and thus neoclassism in architecture became emblemetic of modern republics of both the United States and France which is one of the reasons why examples government institutions such as courthouses are often symbolised by a Parthenon-style features.

No more evident was the popularity of neo-classism expressed but in fashion where the 18th century began with elaborate panniers, constrictive corsets and swathes of luxurious fabrics and ended with the simple lines, minimally decorated and humble fabrics of the Regency period - a fashion adopted from the French who in the Napoleonic era named it the Empire silhouette and from where we get the term empire waist which is still used in fashion terms today.

But there was another competing artistic and philosophical movement which arose at the time - the Gothic Revival. In architectural terms Gothic Revival turned to medieval architecture for its inspiration.

New homes were built to resemble small castles. Castellated towers and pointed turrets were built and decorated with elaborate pierced mouldings in wood, stone and iron - depending on the scale and the wealth of the client.

Medieval churches with their arched windows were another sources of inspiration. Interiors were richly and elborately decorated with wood panelling, coloured fabrics on the walls - later made popular with the introduction of mass produced wallpaper in the 19th century.

Strawberry Hill House, pictured here in 2012.
Strawberry Hill House, pictured here in 2012
A marvellous example of this form of architecture can be found in Strawberry Hill House in London where its owner Horace Walpole took a 17th century cottage and spent the next 20 years turning it into one of the most fascinating and fantastic examples of Gothic Revival architecture. The intellectual war for hearts and minds continued from the 18th century into the 19th and while the 'new republics' turned to the classical Greeks to provide the symbol of their philosophical intent. The 'old republics' particularly those of England and Germany, turned to the medieval Gothic for theirs.

One of the most striking and long lived examples of this is something that is instantly recognisable as symbol of London itself. The Palace of Westminister - home to the Big Ben clock and the Tower, recently renamed Elizabeth Tower in honour of Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee.

Although of much earlier history, the Old Palace was destroyed by fire in 1835 and contract for its reconstruction won by architect Charles Barry with his design for a building in the Perpendicular Gothic style.

An example of pre-Raphaelite romanticism.
Awww... How romantic! An example of pre-Raphaelite romanticism.
 The word 'Gothic' was originally an insult, associating the style with German tribes who had ransacked Rome bringing to an end to the antiquarian Empire and bringing forth the beginning of the mythmaking that erroneously reduced the innovation and culture of the medieval period to the epithet - 'dark ages'. 

While Enlightenment philosophy has science and strict rationalism at its core, Romanticism embraced emotion and nature in its art and literature.

The idealism of the medieval period with its notions of civility, chivalry and romantic love were overlayed with explorations of mysticism and spirituality through art and literature the most readily recognisable being the Pre-Raphaelite movement of the mid-19th century.

Althought the philosophical rationale behind these styles has retreated to the field of the academic, their influence has been felt even into the 21st century with various revivals of Art Nouveau with its naturalistic and organic free flowing forms and Art Deco with its strict geometry and futuristic lines.

Elizabeth Ellen Carter's first novel, Moonstone Obsession set in England and France in 1790 is to be published by Etopia Press later this year. She is working on her second title Warrior's Surrender, set in the wilds of Northumbria in 1074 - post  Norman Conquest.