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.
Over on the English Historical Fiction Authors blog, I write about Mary Edwards.
Portrait of Mary Edwards by William Hogarth, 1742 from Wikimedia Commons (here.)
Mary Edwards (or Edwardes) has already been mentioned in the English Historical Fiction Authors blog (here) in connection with the arts and Hogarth. She was a fascinating and strong-minded woman, not afraid to make decisions or to take her life into her own hands.
To read more about her, visit the English Historical Fiction Authors blog HERE
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.
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!
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!
Over on her “Every Woman Dreams…” blog, Regina Jeffers is celebrating the release of A REGENCY CHRISTMAS PROPOSAL. Don’t miss out!
Link to blog: https://reginajeffers.blog/2019/11/06/celebrating-the-release-of-six-regency-beaux-for-christmas-excerpt-giveaway/
On Paula Lofting’s blog, “The Road To HAastings And Other Stories, author Lynn Bryant discusses her new release THIS BLIGHTED EXPEDITION.
Today, I’m posting on the English Historical Fiction Authors’ Blog…
Diaries and sketchbooks fascinate me, especially those of women. Many of my favourites happen to have been drawn or written by English women in earlier times. The ability to depict one’s daily life in a way that is clear and entertaining to a third party, whether in art or in writing, is a real talent. (My own efforts tend to read more like the essay read in Cheech and Chong’s “Sister Mary Elephant”.) One cannot always assume that a diary written by a woman, especially a young, unmarried woman living with her parents or guardian, expressed her true feeling or opinions as her diary may not have been private. However, the details of one’s daily activities and the people with whom time was spent can give the viewer an idea of how life was lived on an intimate level. I’d like to introduce three of my personal favourites.
To read more, please visit the English Historical Fiction Authors’ Blog HERE
Continue reading “Women’s Lives Recorded in Sketchbooks and Diaries”
On Friday, June 28, my friend Prue Batten released a new book. This book, PASSAGE, is a departure for her: this one is contemporary fiction. A gifted writer, she is already well-known for her historical fiction series, THE TRIPTYCH CHRONICLES (3 volumes), and THE GISBOURNE SAGA (3 volumes), as well as her wonderful fantasy series THE CHRONICLES OF EIRIE (4 volumes), and a delightful children’s book WOMBAT. PASSAGE is already receiving acclaim. Today, she is visiting my blog to talk about what inspired this new direction.
The Inspiration for Passage by Prue Batten
I never intended to write a contemporary fiction.
But it is a genre I’ve always enjoyed reading – authors of the calibre of Rosamunde Pilcher and Alexandra Raife in my earlier days and then Cathy Kelly, Joanne Harris, Maggie Christensen, Joanna Trollope, Jan Ruth, Maeve Binchy and others more recently.
The attraction of the genre is the way it deals with the human condition – no writer shies away from the tough or the tender.
So what was the motivation for me? Well, the oddest little thing really…
My last historical fiction, Michael, had been released and I was taking some time out, re-reading Winter Solstice by Rosamunde Pilcher. In awe of her atmospheric and descriptive writing, I contrived a paragraph about a woman sitting in the sun, trying to give it the Pilcher style. Subsequently I copied and pasted it to my Facebook wall – just for fun.
But then, Juliet Marillier, globally loved writer of myth-based fantasy and also a fan of Rosamunde Pilcher, challenged me to write a contemporary fiction. More particularly, one with a woman in her later years as the protagonist.
I didn’t even think twice (Probably a bad idea. I’ve always been too impulsive.) and thought why not?
So Passage, in the first instance without a title, was born.
My protagonist became a woman on the cusp of her seventies who faces the worst moment of her life when her adored husband of fifty years has a traumatic farm accident. As the blurb indicates, Annie loses Alex and Passage becomes her journey from grievous loss to a gentler existence.
I was determined that it should not be a depressing novel and wanted there to be wry humour and comfort in the reading of this story and so Annie has a crazy little Jack Russell as her companion, along with a dry-witted and kind French woman who is completely Yang to Annie’s Yin.
In addition, Annie converses with her husband. Is she mad? Is he a spirit? Heavens’ knows.
But it comforts Annie and has the approval of her psychologist.
Writing the novel has enabled me to understand grief much more. I now realise that it has its own agenda, its own timeframe and that it can be bridged and that there can be life on the other side.
My dearest wish is that folk will travel with Annie with affection and enjoyment, knowing that grief has many forms and many faces but that all are ultimately bearable…
Thank you, Lauren for inviting me today.
If you would like to read Passage, here is the link. mybook.to/Passage
And if you want to find out more about Prue:
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.
Who were Charles and Nancy Wollstonecraft? Charles was the youngest brother of Georgian era British author Mary Wollstonecraft’s (VINDICATION OF THE RIGHTS OF WOMEN and more) , and a major in the American Army during the War of 1812. Nancy (also known as Anne Kingsbury Wollstonecraft) was a little known American botanist and writer. I’ve posted an article about them on the English Historical Fiction Author’s blog HERE. You can see a page of Nancy’s recently discovered SPECIMENS OF THE PLANTS AND FRUITS OF THE ISLAND OF CUBA below. (The whole 3-volume work has been digitized and is well worth examining.)
Botanical illustration and description by Nancy Anne Kingsbury Wollstonecraft of the Cuban Blue Passion Flower, Vol. I, Pl. 25, ca. 1826
Image is from Wikimedia Commons (Public domain) HERE
My enthusiasm for old cookbooks continuing unchecked, I was delighted when I ran across a reprint of Elizabeth Raffeld’s THE EXPERIENCED ENGLISH HOUSEKEEPER, published in 1769. This book was researched by a gentleman named Roy Shipperton, who died before it was published. It was edited and brought to life by Ann Bagnell. Having written about Georgian era recipes before, I am no stranger to dishes that would be considered unusual by modern standards, such as ox palates (see an earlier blog here). I was intrigued to see that she included 3 recipes for ox palates. However, I was very interested to learn that she seemed particularly interested in cakes and flummery. In fact, she is known for producing the first written recipe for “Bride Cake”.
Her “Bride Cake” is a single layer and requires four pounds of flour, the same of butter, two pounds of sugar, mace and nutmeg, blended with thirty-two eggs. Being a fruitcake, significant quantities of currents, almonds, citron, candied orange and lemon are included, with a pint of brandy. Her directions are very clear on how to blend the butter, eggs and flour, and the process of pouring the batter over the fruits in layers into the pan. Once in the oven, the baking time is three hours. The icing is a two-layer icing, very similar to modern icing, for which the recipes are also included. I envision a very large cake indeed!
Flummery is a molded pudding made with cream, sugar, a gelatin and a starch. Elizabeth Raffald used ground almonds for the starch and calves’foot stock for the gelatin. Her instructions for preparation of the flummery, preparing the molds and for unmolding are very clear. She also included directions for coloring the pudding pink, yellow or green.
Elizabeth Raffald was a fascinating woman, about whom I have written a post that will appear on English Historical Fiction Authors’ Blog on Thursday, April 25 here. I hope you will watch for it!
Raffald, Elizabeth. THE EXPERIENCED ENGLISH HOUSEKEEPER with an introduction by Roy Shipperbottom, edited by Ann Bagnall. 1997: Southover Press, Lewes.
Image is a scan of my personal copy.