10/12/2021 Updates from my writing cave

I’ve been reading old newspaper articles from the British Newspaper Archives set in 1813. I’m working on a non-fiction book about seven women who were powerhouses in Regency-era England, and have been looking for details about their various lives and activities. When writing anything set in Regency-era England, it is difficult to avoid the Season in London. Many of us read novels about the social activities of members of the highest level society, and try to imagine what it must have been like: glamorous, romantic, magical. The popularity of Jane Austen’s novels and their adaptations have fueled this interest. When I ran across several articles about balls and other social events, it gave me a different view of what holding a major ball actually entailed for the hosts.

On a winter night in early 1813, a ball was held in a mansion in Mayfair. The bare outlines of the events were these: approximately 500 guests starting arriving about 10:00 that evening, dancing commenced at 11:00, supper was held at 2:00 in the morning (Tuesday morning), after which dancing resumed until 5:00. The last guest departed at 6:00 in the morning. That is an 8-hour party. While one realizes that many of the guests probably came and went throughout the evening, one must presume that the host and hostess, at a minimum, were there all night long. This doesn’t take into account last minute activities earlier in the day: checking arrangements with staff, getting dressed, etc. Even with a full roster of servants at the ready, this must have been an incredibly long and exhausting event, as the host and hostess must have been constantly on the watch to be sure all went as it should: guests properly entertained and served, unexpected tensions smoothed, and indiscretions (or outright scandals) avoided. Somehow not quite the glamorous, care-free event one envisions…

Although the back-breaking labor of preparations and clean up was performed by servants, the host and hostess had the ultimate responsibility for the successful entertainment of their guests. No small endeavor, especially as social occasions of this nature were more than just fun. A ball of this nature advertised one’s status in the world not only for one’s self but one’s family in general. Its success (or otherwise) could affect reputations. Social events of this nature were also used for other matters, including discreet meetings of political colleagues, who were also frequently members of the same social set, and families considering judicious marital alliances to advance the respective families’ interests. Many issues and concerns simmered under the surface of what, at first glance, was an evening of entertainment. An event of this nature, then, became as much a serious business campaign as a social occasion.

The Next Dance by George Goodwin Kilburne (Wikimedia Commons-Public Domain) https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:George_Goodwin_Kilburne_The_Next_Dance.jpg

On a completely different note, don’t forget that Books at the Beach is coming up in Clearwater, Florida from October 21-October 24. Lots of authors will be there, and it promises to be a fantastic book festival. Unfortunately, I will not be there, but recommend it highly. Visit Eventbrite for ticket information here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/books-at-the-beach-2021-tickets-131262115521?fbclid=IwAR2K_5BGTZLWCJDlHzZZMz1i3eVQnpOUpaMELX0NOMsfU4sRUjCqmUMzhjg

Lady Sarah Frederica Caroline Child-Villiers: An English Princess

By Lauren Gilbert

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Schloss Esterházy, Eisenstadt, Darstellung von Lady Sarah Frederica Caroline Child Villiers, by Karl Gruber January 2013 (Creative Commons Austria)

Today on the English Historical Fiction Authors blog, I have posted  about Princess Nicholas Esterhazy, born Lady Sarah Caroline Frederica Caroline Child-Villiers.

Lady Sarah Caroline Frederica Caroline Child-Villiers was born August 12, 1822 in London, and was baptized May 27, 1823 in St George’s Hanover Square Parish.  Her mother was Sarah Sophia Child-Villiers, Countess of Jersey and her father George Child-Villiers, 5th Earl of Jersey.  She was born into one of the wealthiest and most powerful families.

To read the rest of  the post, please visit the English Historical Fiction Authors blog.

Interesting Finds: Louis Ude French Chef

In the course of doing research for a non-fiction book due next year with Pen and Sword Publishing, I ran across an interesting character: Louis Eustache Ude, French chef.

Louis Eustache Ude was born around 1769, the son of a chef who cooked at the court of Louis XVI in France.  Louis was briefly apprenticed there as as well, left to try other occupations, and then returned to cooking.  He cooked for Napoleon’s mother, Maria Letizia Buonaparte for 2 years.  Moving on to England (probably late 18th-early 19th century), he went to work for William and Maria Molyneux, 2nd Earl and Countess of Sefton, with whom he stayed for almost 20 years.  The Earl and his countess were known for lavish dinners and select parties. His cuisine must have been greatly appreciated, as the Earl paid Ude 300 guineas per year, and left Ude 100 guineas in his will. While in the earl’s employ, Ude published his first cookbook, THE FRENCH COOK, in 1813. It is said that Ude left the earl’s service when the earl’s eldest son put salt in a soup Ude had prepared.  The exact dates of service for the earl are not known.

After leaving the Earl’s service, Ude went to work for the Duke of York.  After the duke’s death in 1827, he went to work for Crockford’s, a gaming club in St. James’s Street, where he was paid 1200 pounds per year to start.  He was there until late 1838 or early 1839, when he left over a salary dispute.  He was replaced at Crockford’s by Charles Elme’ Francatelli (about whom more here  ), while he moved on to work at other clubs.  His cookbook, which he re-titled THE FRENCH COOK: A System of Fashionable, Practical, and Economical Cookery, Adapted to the Use of English Families, went into numerous editions. (It is interesting to note that Mrs. Beeton is rumored to have included Ude’s recipe for turtle soup in her own cookbook.)  Ude was living in London when he died April 10, 1846.

Sources include:

Cooksinfo.com “Louis Eustache Ude” by Randall Oulton, published December 31, 2005 and updated May 10, 2018.  (c) 2010.  HERE

GoogleBooks.com THE NATIONAL REVIEW Vol 25, March-August, 1895.  pp. 784-785. London: Edward Arnold. “The Literature of Cookery (18th and 19th Centuries)” by A. Kenney Herbert. HERE

Morningmail.org “Indigestion: Dinner with high drama” (no author or post date shown). HERE

Oldcookbooks.com “Ude, Louis Eustache. The French Cook” (no author or post date shown). HERE

Blog Hop Celebrating A RATIONAL ATTACHMENT!

A Rational Attachment cover from Amazon

My latest book, A RATIONAL ATTACHMENT, was released in December 2019, and introduced at the Sunshine State Book Festival and the Amelia Island Book Festival (both terrific events, about which more later).  Historical Fiction Virtual Blog Tours is conducting a blog hop with a giveaway to celebrate this release.  Please go here to check the schedule and see why I’m so excited.  Don’t forget to enter the giveaway!  In addition to the book and the e-book, there will be some special surprises to enjoy while reading. Don’t miss it!

A Great Weekend

I spent this past weekend at the Sunshine State Book Festival in Gainesville, Florida, organized by the Writers’ Alliance of Gainesville. It was a terrific weekend. It started with a reception for the attending authors on Friday evening, which was delightful. On Saturday, the book festival itself was held on the campus at Santa Fe College. What a terrific venue! The room was full of authors, presenting books in a wide range of genres. There was excellent attendance, with people coming through and browsing all day. It was a great opportunity to meet other authors, as well as the the attendees who came through to check out the books.

It was an excellent place to introduce my new novel, A RATIONAL ATTACHMENT. I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to attend!

A Matter of Trade

In my new book, A RATIONAL ATTACHMENT, the heroine’s father is an extremely wealthy man whose family made their money in trade, banking and business.  A well-educated and cultured man, he is unashamed of his family background or the fact that he still engages in the work he enjoys.  He becomes interested and involved in a new venture involving a new potential trade post in the east, Singapura.

The British needed a port in the east, in or near the straits of Malacca, to have a place where trade ships could put in and be resupplied, the Navy could have a presence to protect British ships from piracy and from harassment by the Dutch, and where trade could be done.   The British also did not want to stress their relationship with the Dutch, already established in the area. The waters off Malacca, in Malaysia, where the British were already established, were too shallow.  Sir Thomas Stamford Bingley Raffles, lieutenant governor of a British colony in Bencoolen in Sumatra, led a party to search the area for an appropriate location.  His party landed in Singapura in January of 1819.   The British established a trading outpost in Singapura (now known as Singapore), where there was a deep water harbor.

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Col. William Farquhar

There was no conquest.  A treaty was signed February 6, 1819 by Stir Thomas, Temenggong Abdu’r Rahman (“Temenggong” is an ancient Malaysian title), and Sultan Hussein Shah of Johor (Johor was on the Malaysian peninsula and was considered the ruler of Singaura), allowing the British East India Company to establish a trading post in Singapura, in exchange for yearly payments to the Temenggong and the Shah.  Sir Thomas left the next day, leaving then-Major William Farquhar as Resident and Commandant of the newly established post with instructions for the development of the site.  In spite of these instructions, communications with Sir Thomas were so poor that Singapura developed independently.  The colony grew rapidly, and trade with China, India, Arabs and others amounting to 400,000 Spanish dollars passed through it in its first year.  By 1821, trade had grown to over 8 million Spanish dollars.

It is easy to see why a successful business man would be interested in such an opportunity!

Sources include:

Facts and Details.  “The Early History of Singapore”. here

The British Empire.  “A Splendid Little Colony” by Samuel T. W. Wee.  here

HistorySG. “The British Land in Singapore 28th January 1819.” here

Wikimedia Commons-Photograph taken in 1924 of a lithograph c. 1830 which was based on an oil painting c. 1828.  here

Wikimedia Commons shows Joachim Ottens’ two part c. 1710 map of the Kingdom of Siam and its tributaries, including Malaysia and Singapore here

A RATIONAL ATTACHMENT by Lauren Gilbert is currently in production.  Watch for it!

 

 

 

 

The Duke of Wellington’s Female Circle: Frances, Lady Shelley

Frances Lady Shelley 001 Lady Shelley, from a miniature by G. Sanders, in the possession of Spencer Shelley Esq.

Over on the English Historical Fiction Author’s blog, we meet Frances, Lady Shelley, a dear friend and correspondent of the Duke of Wellington.

Arthur Wellesley, the Duke of Wellington, was known to enjoy women, particularly pretty, intelligent women. He was credited with many mistresses (whether or not true) and he had many women friends whose company he enjoyed. One of these women was Frances, Lady Shelley. Lady Shelley was a notable diarist.

Frances was born in June 16, 1787 at Preston, Lancashire. Her father was Thomas Winckley, and her mother was Jacintha Dalrymple Hesketh. Originally known as Janet or Jennet, Jacintha was the previously-widowed sister of the famous courtesan Grace Dalrymple Elliot, whose family had a connection to the Earl of Peterborough. Jacintha and Thomas were descended of Jacobite families and they married in 1785. Thomas was about 17 years older than Jacintha. Jacintha had children (5 daughters and a son) by her first husband. Apparently Thomas did not care for the Hesketh connection; only one of Lady Shelley’ half-siblings lived in the household with her and her parents, and they rarely met the Hesketh siblings. The household was not a particularly happy one; Thomas spent a lot of time with his cronies, drank heavily and liked to play pranks. Accounts indicate that Thomas was quite well off. Shortly after moving his family to Larkhill, Thomas died in 1794, leaving his widow, their daughter Frances and 2 illegitimate sons. Jacintha inherited the house and furniture; the residue of Thomas’ estate was left to Frances, who was 6 years old….

To read more, visit the English Historical Fiction Author’s blog HERE.

Illustration is a scan of the image in my personal copy of THE DIARY OF FRANCES LADY SHELLEY 1787-1817 Edited by her grandson Richard Edgcumbe. 1912: John Murray, London.

Sources are listed in the post on the English Historical Fiction Authors blog.

Dresser to the Queen: Miss Marianne Skerrett

Today on the English Historical Fiction Authors blog, we’re talking about Miss Marianne Skerrett, principal dresser and wardrobe woman to Queen Victoria.

In the television series VICTORIA, Mr. Francatelli had a relationship and married Nancy Skerrett, known as Mrs. Skerrett, who was the Queen’s dresser. She was a young woman with a sketchy past who tragically died young. In real life, Miss Marianne Skerrett rose to be the Queen’s principle dresser, and was with Queen Victoria for twenty-five years. You can see multiple images of Miss Skerrett on the Royal Collections Trust Website. One can be found HERE

To read more about here, visit the English Historical Fiction Authors blog HERE

Cook at Buckingham Palace: Charles Elme’ Francatelli

Over on the English Historical Fiction Authors blog, I wrote about one of my favorite characters on the series VICTORIA (season 3 now showing on PBS).

I have been enjoying the series Victoria on PBS. (It was so exciting that series 3 premiered in the U.S. BEFORE showing in the UK!) One character I particularly like is Mr. Francatelli, the chef in the palace. While it is true that Queen Victoria’s household did include a cook named Francatelli, there is a big difference between the way he is depicted in the television series and the known facts about him.

Charles Elme’ Francatelli is believed to have been born in London in 1805, to Nicholas and Sarah Francatelli. He actually grew up in France. He studied cooking at the Parisian College of Cooking, from which he received a diploma. He had the good fortune to study under the renowned chef Marie Antoine Careme (1784-1833), who served as chef de cuisine for the British Prince Regent (the future George IV) and was invited to Russia (although he left before cooking for the czar). When Francatelli returned to England, he cooked for various aristocratic households, until in late 1838 or early 1839, he went to work at Crockford’s. To read more, go HERE.