Interview with Cheryl Bolen

Laurie Allice Eakes (LA) invites you into an Interview with Cheryl Bolen (CB), author of Marriage of Inconvenience from Love Inspired Historical.

Cheryl Bolen, author of Marriage of Inconvenience

LA: What drew you to write about the Regency Time Period?

CB: My World War II book—the fourth complete book I’d written but not found a publishing home for—won a lot of contests, but publishers kept saying it didn’t fit into a genre. The final editor judge in one contest told me if I wrote a historical romance that took place before 1900 she would like to look at it. The only period I liked was the Regency England Georgette Heyer had introduced me to. I hadn’t read many of the contemporary writers of Regency because I found some of them not understanding the era as well as I thought I did. That’s when I had a light bulb moment. I can write that! I began A DUKE DECEIVED, and months later that senior editor at Harlequin Historical bought it.

LA: Tell us what year your book is set in and why you chose that particular time.

CB: My newest release is set sometime after Waterloo but before 1820. I actually picked that time because it was a continuation of a series that began earlier and which locked me into a particular time. (The first books in the series, however, were written for a secular publisher, but readers had been clamoring for me to tell this proper miss’s tale.)

LA: What’s your favorite, unique Regency aspect of the novel, something you wouldn’t be able to include in a novel set in another place or time?

CB: Definitely the clothes—both men’s and women’s. Love the elegant, feminine lines of women’s but especially love that the men wore knee breeches, neckcloths—and unlike men later in the century, they were clean shaven!

LA: What are the biggest challenges to writing in the Regency Period?

CB: Some vocabulary is peculiar to the Regency, and you want to use it in a context that won’t confuse readers.

LA: Why did you choose to write Regencies for Love Inspired?

CB: I was honored that the senior editor of Love Inspired Historical came to me and asked me to write for her. I was thrilled because I’d developed a love of inspirational romances. Deeanne Gist is a friend of mine, and I love her award-winning books.
LA: What is your favorite Regency Food, aspect of dress, and/or expression?

CB: I don’t get into food a lot in my books because I don’t think modern readers would like to read about the excessive gluttony of the period! I love the wonderful formality and manners of the upper classes in their speech of the period. I really don’t like it when I read a book where an earl says, “Call me John.” This simply wasn’t done. Ladies were always Miss Lastname even to their closest friends.
LA: What is your favorite Regency setting; e.g., London, country house, small village?

CB: For my own books, I like a mix of the two. I’ve been to London many times and like to describe it as I believe it looked in the Regency, but there’s nothing like those grand country estates, and I like my readers to get a taste for that, too.
LA: What makes your hero and heroine uniquely Regency?

CB: In my newest book, the hero is in Parliament, and it plays a particular role in my book. They both favored reforms to benefit the lower classes.

LA: Tell us about your book.

CB: It’s actually sort of funny that in the same month I’ve got two new releases, and both of them are G-rated. As an ebook only, I’ve got CHRISTMAS BRIDES: 3 REGENCY NOVELLAS.

Marriage of Inconvenience, Love Inspired Historical: Proposing to the Earl of Aynsley seems a sensible—if unconventional—solution to Miss Rebecca Peabody’s predicament. As a married woman, she will be free to keep writing her essays on civil reform. Meanwhile, the distinguished widower will gain a stepmother for his seven children and a caretaker for his vast estate.

But the earl wants more than a convenient bride. He craves a true partner, a woman he can cherish. To his surprise, the bookish Miss Peabody appears to have every quality he desires…except the willingness to trust her new husband. Yet despite his family’s interference, and her steadfast independence, time and faith could make theirs a true marriage of hearts.

Cheryl Bolen’s Bio: A former journalist who admits to a fascination with dead Englishwomen, Cheryl is a regular contributor to The Regency Plume, The Regency Reader, and The Quizzing Glass. Many of her articles can found on her website, www.CherylBolen.com, and more recent ones on her blog, www.CherylsRegencyRamblings.wordpress.com. Readers are welcomed at both places.

Cheryl holds a dual degree in English and journalism from the University of Texas, and she earned a master’s degree from the University of Houston. She and her professor husband are the parents of two sons, one who is an attorney, and the other a journalist. Her favorite things to do are watching the Longhorns, reading letters and diaries of Georgian Englishmen, and traveling to England.

Taking to the Sky

To celebrate A Flight of Fancy, we’re running a special week-long contest. Starting October 5, 2012, through next Friday, October 12, we’ll feature Regency quiz questions at the end of each post. To enter the contest, you’ll need to correctly answer the questions in the comment section below. For every correct answer, your name will be added into the drawing for a Regency Food and Frolic gift basket. There will be five questions in all, which means your name can be entered up to five times (if you get all five questions right). The deadline to answer ALL CONTEST QUESTIONS will be Saturday, October 13 at midnight.

Photo on Scenic Reflections

A Flight of Fancy has a heroine who would be considered a nerd nowadays. For fun, she reads Greek and Hebrew, translates ancient documents into English, and executes mathematics. She regrets not being able to go to university, but since she cannot, she determines to make her mark on the world through creating a balloon one can steer.

Balloons could not be steered except per the caprices of the wind currents. These change at various heights of the atmosphere, so a balloonist had to raise and lower the gas—hydrogen—level in the balloon to affect their direction. Sometimes it worked and sometimes it did not. Usually it did not. Sails and paddles were employed in an attempt to create steerage to greater or lesser success—mostly lesser.

Considering one had to go aloft with live fire to create the hydrogen, and the car or basket was not all that large, limiting the quantity of fuel, long journeys in a balloon without touching down were simply not possible. Decades later, Jules Verne’s book, Around the World in 80 Days, was considered fantasy. It was the science fiction of its day. (He is, of course, the founder of steam punk, a steam punk author told me.) But I digress.

How grand getting from London to Lisbon, sailing over the heads of the French enemy, sailing high enough to be out of range of their guns, would be! Much safer from the enemy than taking a ship.

Unfortunately, steering was the first problem with long-range travel, and having enough fuel to keep gas in the balloon was another problem.

It doesn’t mean people did not attempt, and come close, to sailing long distances. Sophie Blanchard, a famous French balloonist, sailed across the Alps. No problem. Balloons could go extremely high; therefore, getting over the mountains was not a problem for her. She was also not sailing over enemy territory, being French.

During the Regency, Mr. Sattler decided to fly from Ireland, across the Irish Sea, and to England. He did so with great success. Several times, he had to raise and lower his level to catch favorable currents, but the coast of Cumberland drew into his sites.

So he decided to go down to Liverpool, and that’s when he ran into trouble. He caught a strong current. The waxed canvas tubing that carried the hydrogen from the beaker of acid and iron shavings, to the balloon, began to tear away from the balloon, causing him to lose altitude at an alarming rate.

Mind you, he reports that he was around three miles in the sky. Plunging from that height would have been rather frightening, not to say deadly.

With great risk to life and limb, he managed to affect repairs while poised above a live fire and that beaker of acid and iron shavings to make the hydrogen. I won’t say how because I use this incident for the basis of an important scene in A Flight of Fancy.

Mr. Sattler ended up in the sea near Liverpool. A flock of sea birds attacked him for the food he had carried with him, and several ships sailed past him. Eventually, as night fell, a naval vessel stopped and picked him up.

That Lord Whittaker is against Cassandra going aloft in a balloon makes a great deal of sense. Men and women, including Sophie Blanchard, died because of their fascination with taking to the sky in a balloon. Cassandra, however, is like thousands of men and women throughout history, who risked their fortunes and their lives to bring us new inventions and scientific discoveries—she will not let the danger stop her from trying to improve balloon flight and make it a practical form of transportation.

For more details on how balloonists made hydrogen and why they went aloft with a live fire, read my article at: http://englishhistoryauthors.blogspot.com/

Today’s questions:

1: How did aeronauts steer a balloon?

A: They used sails.

B: They used paddles.

C: They used wind currents.

D: They used the balloon itself.

 2: Which of the following was not used to make hydrogen for the balloon.

A: Fire

B: Acid

C: Wax

D: Iron

This contest is now closed. Please see the final post for answers to the trivia questions. 

Murder in Parliament

Murder in Parliament sounds like the title of a mystery novel. Sadly, the title is the raw truth. On may 11, 1812, an assassin walked up to the prime minister and shot him. The Right Honorable Spencer Perceval died within minutes of the shooting, and the killer turned himself in moments after that.

The Right Honorable Spencer Perceval courtesy of http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Spencer_Perceval.jpg

Murder is always tragic, and this one made more so for its seeming pointlessness. At first, before details were known, some thought the assassination a French plot. After all, the French seemed to be winning the war. The British weren’t doing well on the continent at any rate. Why not disrupt the government with an assassination? But, no, the killing shot was triggered from the hand of an individual, a subject of Great Britain, John Bellingham.

John Bellingham photo courtesy of http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:John_Bellingham_portrait.gif

So why did John Bellingham have special pockets sewn into his coat to hold his pistols concealed? Why did he wait in the lobby of Parliament, wait for Perceval to appear, then walk up and shoot him through the heart?

Many said he was insane, that he must be insane. Others denied this fact, one of those being John Bellingham himself. Another who said he was sane was Sir James Mansfield, the judge who presided over his brief trial and pronounced his immediate sentence.

Bellingham wanted justice. He may or may not have been the John Bellingham who went to sea as a midshipman in the 1780s. That ship went aground after the crew mutinied. He may have been the same John Bellingham who’s tin business in London failed a few years later. No one is quite sure. That he worked in a counting house is certain. He also went to Russia for  importers and exporters, and there is where the real troubles began.

A ship insured by Lloyds of London was lost in the White Sea. Before the merchants could collect on the insurance, Lloyds received an anonymous letter saying the ship had been sabotaged. Suspecting Bellingham was the author of said letter, the owners of the vessel claimed he owed a substantial debt, which landed Bellingham in a Russian prison. A year later, he managed his release, went to St. Petersburg, and dove into more trouble that landed him back into a Russian prison. He was released in 1808, received permission from the czar to leave Russia, and ended up back in England in 1809—to no happy homecoming.

Bellingham petitioned the British government for compensation for his imprisonment in Russia. But nothing was forthcoming. Due to Russia’s relationship with France at the time, the British had broken off diplomatic relations with Russia. At the persuasion of his wife, Bellingham gave up and went to work, but tried again in 1812.

Allegedly, a civil servant at the foreign office told Bellingham he could take whatever measures he thought proper. I expect this clerk thought Bellingham would write letters or even waylay someone like Lord Gower, the British ambassador to Russia at the time of Bellingham’s imprisonment in that country.

Bellingham, however, made other plans. He bought the pistols, had the pockets made, and executed his plan as Perceval strode through the lobby of Parliament.

Assassination photo courtesy of http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Assassination_of_Spencer_Perceval.jpg

One can dismiss the incident as someone with a grievance taking it out on the highest person he could reach. One might think that people would be appalled by him and call out with joy at his hanging. On the contrary. Much sentiment lay with Bellingham. He had carried out justice and maybe in the future, those in high places would listen when petitioned by a wronged common man.

Indeed, though no one—or perhaps a few far-sighted thinkers of the time—realized that this assassination did change the course of history, that John Bellingham’s actions brought about justice. A different government came into power after Perceval leadership was gone, a government that reenacted much needed reforms that helped the poor.

As for Bellingham’s family. A collection was taken, and his family ended with far more money than they had before his dastardly deed and consequent execution.

Strange Taxes of the Regency Era

Kristi here. If you live in the United States and you’re reading this article it means either A) you’ve already finished your taxes or B) you’re avoiding doing your taxes by perusing the internet. If the latter I suggest you hop to it because Tax Day is right around the corner.

 “The only things certain in life are death and taxes.” – Benjamin Franklin

How true, how true. Taxes are a way of life if you want to have a funded government. During the Regency, with the American Revolution having just wrapped up and the Napoleonic Wars raging, not to mention a Prince Regent with an eye for expensive decor, the English government taxed the citizens in every way it could think of. Newspapers, soap, tea, pins, sugar, coffee, even horses and dogs were taxed. By the time the Regency rolled around the English government had gotten very good at taxing people in unique ways.

The Window Tax

Bricked In WindowProbably the most infamous of the taxes was the window tax. It was doubly bad because there was also a Glass Excise tax. So you got taxed when you bought the glass for the window and then taxed for having the window.

Any portal that allowed you to see outside of the house – even a small ventilation hole – counted towards a home’s total number of windows. Homes were classed into three groups: less than 10 windows, 10-20 windows, and more than 20 windows. The rates were occasionally raised, coming to their peak during the Regency, before slowly decreasing until the tax was eradicated altogether in 1937.

While some people, particularly poor people, did brick up certain windows to avoid the tax, false windows were also a popular architecture feature. This was awfully convenient if you did want to brick up a window because it kept it from looking out of place.

The Servant Tax

Next time you’re reading (or writing!) a Regency novel, pay attention to the number of people running around performing services for all the characters. All of them drew a tax from their employers. Footmen, butlers, valets, game-keepers, grooms, and gardeners all added together to make money to fund wars on the American and French fronts. The scale was as difficult to figure out as their money.

Families were charged different rates than bachelors. Eventually a sliding scale, based on the number of servants you employed, was applied to the rates.

Originally the law applied only to male servants working in homes or on estates. By the time Prinny came to power, women servants, waiters, book-keepers, clerks, stewards, and even factory workers and farm laborers were being taxed. The rates had also been risen to their highest point in history, making the sheer effort of making a living and running a household an expensive endeavor. While things did get better after 1823, the tax was not entirely repealed until 1889.

The Church Tax

Yes, the Church of England was also in the game of raising funds. At the time the church was responsible for much more than religious education, fellowship, and Godly worship. They also cared for the roads, the poor, and upkeep of certain public buildings – including the place of worship.

This was separate from the tithes expected from farmers and craftsmen which paid the living for the clergy. Also, while not a requirement, it was expected that people pay pew rental fees to the church to secure their seats for worship services. One would also have to tip the person who opened your pew box for you to sit down.

 

Tax stamp on wallpaper
Tax stamp on a piece of wallpaper, proving the tax had been paid.

All of this taxation served to make the poor poorer and the rich a little irritated. The poorest of people lived in houses without ventilation and didn’t wash because of the tax on soap. This made them sick and unable to care for themselves, in which case they had to rely on the church which meant the church had to collect more in taxes as well which led the rich to go to great lengths to drive the poor to another district. What a vicious circle.

Sadly, things haven’t changed much. Between income tax, property tax, sales tax, ad valorem tax, and other things like estate and capital gains taxes, just about everything we touch is taxed as well. I guess Ecclesiastes is right… there’s nothing new under the sun.

 

Sources:
What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew
Godly Mayfair
English Historical Documents 1660-1714
Regency Redingote
Regency Redingote

 

Happy Leap Year Day!

 

Leap Year A La Regency

Thirty days hath September, 
April, June and November; 
All the rest have thirty-one, 
Excepting February alone 
Which hath but twenty-eight, in fine, 
Till leap year gives it twenty-nine. 

Just as young people desiring to bypass all the rigmarole to get married in Regency England could hightail it to Scotland, women could also thank the Scots for making it a law allowing women to propose to men one day a year, every four years on Feb. 29.

Tradition has it that this law came on the books back in 1288—and that if a man turned a woman down, he must pay a fine, anything from a kiss to a pair of gloves or even a silk dress. Another tradition has it that the spurned woman must be wearing a visible red petticoat if she wanted the fine paid. Tradition aside, there is no written evidence on the books of Scottish Parliament’s having passed such a law.

Another legend has it that it was over in fifth century Ireland that St. Brigit asked St. Patrick to allow women to propose to men, since, supposedly, men were laggards in this area. After a bit of negotiating, St. Paddy allowed it every four years on Leap Year Day.

The American Farmer, published in 1827, quotes this passage from a 1606 volume entitled Courtship, Love and Matrimonie:

Albeit, it is nowe become a parte of the Common Lawe, in regard to the social relations of life, that as often as every bissectile year doth return, the Ladyes have the sole privilege, during the time it continueth, of making love unto the men, which they may doe either by wordes or lookes, as unto them it seemeth proper; and moreover, no man will be entitled to the benefit of Clergy who dothe refuse to accept the offers of a ladye, or who dothe in any wise treate her proposal withe slight or contumely.

So, wherever or however the tradition developed, by the time of the regency, Leap Year as a year or a day of female initiative in the romantic sphere was well-known. 1812, 1816 and 1820 were all leap years. Even though the Gregorian calendar had made the bissextile year (having an extra day) official back in 1582, Britain ignored the date of Feb. 29, so legally it didn’t exist. British law conveniently “leaped over” the date, probably because of so many negative superstitions associated with it, especially concerning livestock and crops. Ignoring this day resulted in a tradition of “anything goes”—hence women proposing to men. According to the Encyclopedia Americana 2004 Edition (Volume 17), King Henry VIII’s reign had an English law passed making February 28 the official birthday of “leaplings” or “leapers,” those born on Leap Year Day .

LEAP YEAR, OR JOHN BULL’S PEACE ESTABLISHMENT

[Published March, 1816, by S. W. Fores, 50, Piccadilly]

This British political cartoon satirizes the royal marriage of Princess Charlotte of Wales (the Prince Regent’s daughter) to Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg on May 2, 1816.

The British Parliament settled £60,000 on the newlyweds, with £50,000 more for the prince should his bride pass away. The cartoon depicts the English nation on its hands and knees, a bit in his mouth, driven by Her Royal Highness with a horsewhip.

John Bull is the national personification of England, the way “Uncle Sam” is to the United States. He is loaded down with packages labeled with all the heavy tax burdens imposed on the populace at the time. After more than a quarter century of war with France, Britain’s people were financially exhausted. The Prince Regent’s extravagant lifestyle and building projects only filled them with disgust and caused a growing number of riots (one reason the Prince Regent preferred spending time at his seaside retreat, the Royal Pavilion at Brighton).

In the cartoon, Prince Regent George supports himself on crutches formed of dragons from his Brighton money pit. “Push on!” he shouts, “Preach economy! And when you have got your money, follow my example.” “Oh! my back,” groans John, crawling under the weight of his heavy burdens. “I never can bear it! This will finish me.”


 Sources: English Caricaturists and Graphic Humourists of the Nineteenth Century/Chapter 3, Wikisource.org; Smithsonian Magazine.com; http://www.altiusdirectory.com/Society/leap-year.html; http://www.historic-uk.com/CultureUK/Leap-Year-Superstitions/; http://urbanlegends.about.com/od/historical/a/leap_year_2.htm; http://voices.yahoo.com/leap-year-2008-history-facts-798349.html?cat=37

 

 

Reflections on Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day in Regency England

Cards were already a popular custom for all classes by regency times. Most were home-and-handmade from plain to fancy, depending on what the sender could afford. Fancier ones might include gilt-edged paper and real lace (paper lace didn’t come into production until later in the century). Woodcuts or copperplate engraved cards existed but this process was still hand-done and thus time-consuming, so mass-produced cards didn’t come on the market until the 1820s. This coincided with the standardization of the postal system, making sending cards cheaper.

For those who had trouble with a rhyme, there were publications called “Valentine writers,” chock full of ready-made verses for gentlemen to use. Some even contained poetical replies for ladies to use.

Everybody’s Valentine Writer; or True Lover’s Notebook; and Kemmish’s Annual and Universal Valentine Writer, or the Lover’s Instructor were a couple published in England in the late 18th century.

A sample of a lady’s reply to a gentleman’s verse, from Everybody’s Valentine Writer:

To a Gentleman

With proverbs, sir, I see you play;

With proverbs, too, I answer nay—

 

The Language of Flowers

Although special significance of flowers became most popular in Victorian times, lovers’ messages through flowers was already seen in regency times. Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, wife of the British ambassador to the Ottoman Empire , described a “secret language of flowers,” when her letters home were published posthumously in 1763. This language was a form of Turkish and Persian poetry called selam, which used words that rhymed with flower names. In 18th century Europe this developed into giving flowers sentimental significance (ie. a rose symbolizing love).

 

Various and changing meanings were ascribed to different flowers, but you wouldn’t want to receive a striped carnation in 1819, which according to Madame Charlotte de la Tour, who published a dictionary on flower language entitled [sic] Le Language des Fleur, meant “I’m sorry, I must say no.”

Yellow carnation, you disappoint me...

 

 

Nor would you want to receive a yellow carnation, which meant “You disappoint me.”

 


 

Better would be a red rose from your true love; or a pansy (“you occupy my thoughts”); or perhaps an arum, which meant ardor.

The Art of the Valentine Card

The reputedly oldest valentine card in existence is owned by the British Royal Mail. It dates from 1790. Its four points open up to reveal a love poem, but the outside words are already quite enchanting:

Valentine card circa 1790

“My dear the Heart which you behold,
Will break when you the same unfold,
Even so my heart with lovesick pain,
Sure wounded is and breaks in twain.”

 

Sources:

The Evening Independent, Feb. 14, 1977

The Year’s Festivals, Helen Philbrook Patten, 1903

The Quest of the Quaint, Virginia Robie, 1916

http://www.newyorker.com/archive/1947/02/15/1947_02_15_021_TNY_CARDS_000207379

http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/documents/11feb2011-aac.pdf