Sunday, August 7, 2016

Fudging History

Coming September 1
When I began writing the first book of the Reluctant Grooms Series over  a decade ago, I had no idea what I was doing. I only knew I loved the genre of Regency romance. It took a few years for me to become a "working author" and in doing so, I realized there was a lot more research involved than I ever could imagine.

But that's what history is for. To teach us the lessons of the past. The internet is to keep those lessons alive and I think, relevant. Not everything is true, of course, but for those history buffs who keep the old ways within our grasp, we can easily click and compare different sources for accuracy. I love the internet. It is SO MUCH better than going to the library and used book stores.

Henry Wade,
Marquess of Dunbury
I like to think of myself as a Regency era romance writer first, in the style of Jane Austen  (rather than Georgette Heyer), and secondly as a teller of historical fiction. I like to weave the major political players of the time in with the mix -- the Napoleonic Wars are absolutely rife with political intrigue and high drama. So far I believe I have done a pretty good job of it. I'm not perfect and sometimes I will "fudge" the truth about how I see history. As a writer, its' my job to discover what makes us human, what emotions drive us, and how we react in certain situations.

For example, my portrayal of the Prince Regent is of a lonely wounded man, his life a shambles because of past mistakes and present circumstances. On the outside, history portrays him as a drunken, debauched, spender of money, who built lavish architecture and surrounded himself with only the best money could buy -- the people's money. Nobody liked him. Not even his father, the King.

I chose to look deeper into what made George turn out in such a way. It seems he had to
Hugh Bonneville as
Prince George in
This Charming Man
release the love of his life, a divorced Catholic, who was fourteen years older than him. Maria Fitzherbert. The Pope refused to recognize the union, as well as the King, and Parliament, and made George give her up. Needless to say, George went absolutely nuts.

I would have too. He wasn't king then. His father still held the throne and seemed to be in very good health. Why could he not marry the woman he loved? So he did, but then things got ugly and George was forced to let her go. (Can you even imagine it?)

And so, with Maria's departure, I have given His Royal Highness a reason to be drunk and debauched. And depressed. And when he meets with Haverlane in THE LADY'S FATE, he says, "Do not let anyone let you stand in the way of love."

In REGRETS AND RESPONSIBILITIES, I tug at history a little differently. Henry Wade, Marquess of Dunbury is responsible for 6 nieces, assorted servants, and the various demands of his position in Parliament. But he's broke, and he doesn't want anyone to find out, so he mortgages the farm, (literally), to have a little bankroll before he begins his new life.
Stephen Carlton,
Duke of Cantin

His best friend, Stephen Carlton, tells him he's got a job offer for him. Parliament wants him to be the new Minister of London Security.

There was not a Minister of London Security in the Cabinet in 1808 in England. I created it. As a  Lieutenant Colonel in the Royal Army, I also allowed Henry to be in several key locations during the siege of Portugal. He and Arthur Wellesley (who later became the Duke of Wellington) had been chasing the bad buys all over Denmark. Henry also saw some of the uprising in India. He had been a soldier all of his adult life.

Sir Graham Moore,
by Thomas Lawrence
So, for him to return as decorated war hero, naturally some of his friends would rally to find him a decent living. Parliament agreed, and they set Henry up in a new career. His job description, as such, was to unite the individual police forces within the city of London to coalesce into a unified police force.

Bow Street Runners
Horse Guards
Marine Patrol
Dockside Patrols

Um, this did actually happen, but not until 1839.

However, I write, Timeless Romance with Modern Day Dilemmas

I think it fitting that Henry has a somewhat unique situation on his hands. He has all these challenges coming at him from every direction -- six nieces, a very demanding job, the lure of an old lover, the prospect of a new one, and to top it all off, I gave Henry PTSD. I've called it Soldier's Nerves. In the Civil War they called it Soldier's Heart. Or Homesickness Disease. In the story, I've allowed the good Doctor Blakestock to explain it to Henry.

So, there you have it. How I've fudged history in my latest Regency romance novel.

Anne Gallagher (c) 2016

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