Titles & Audiobooks

Lady Elizabeth FosterAnswering Questions: Aristocratic Titles and Audiobooks

Compiled by Mary Jo

The Wenches invite readers to submit questions to us, and due to general overwork, two interesting questions got lost, but now are found.  So both questions are being answered today, and the questioners will each get a book from me.

Here is the first question from Rosa Berini Franco:

I would like to ask you about a question that has us debating several friends who are fond of historical romance.  The question is the following:

 When a distant relative inherits a title (e.g., earl) from someone who dies without direct heirs, do the sisters of that relative receive the courtesy title of lady?  By distant relative, I am referring to a fourth or fifth degree cousin who has no title whatsoever.

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Why Pseudonyms?

By Mary Jo

Today's Ask A Wench was inspired by a question from regular reader Pamela DG, who wanted to know why authors use pseudonyms.  I said the answer was complicated and worthy of a blog. For asking the question, Pamela will get a book from me. 

Writing with a pseudonym, a name not one's own, can occur for any number or reasons.  The Wenches explain why:

From Nicola Harlequin-cz-chuda-snoubenka-105

I’ve never written under a pseudonym. This was not a conscious decision. I was literally so naïve when I was first published that it did not cross my mind to consider it. This seems remarkable to me now but I had had no experience of the publishing world other than a godmother who wrote religious books under her own name. I quickly came to regret my naivety. For a number of years I wrote historical romance for Mills & Boon alongside working as an academic registrar in a university. One day a mischievous colleague read out a passage from one of my books in a meeting, which was quite embarrassing. I wasn’t ashamed of the books or that I had written them but I didn’t want my writing and my other work life to cross over.

Once I started to write full time it didn’t matter at all and it’s never really given me any problems since. There has only been one odd occasion when a publisher kept referring to Nicola Cornick as my pseudonym and refused to accept that it wasn’t!  That said, if I was starting over again knowing what I do now, I’d probably use a pseudonym. I don’t dislike my name but it does give you the opportunity to call yourself something you’ve always wanted to be! One of the reasons I like my Czech editions is that I love being called Cornickova!  

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Quotes to Preserve Your Muchness


Note the mask and gloves; Pietro Longhi (btw, a family ancestor)

Susan here – and here we are, a full year into making our way through this peculiar time on Planet Earth. And today I'm bringing to the blog a refreshed assortment of quotes and thoughts and pretty pictures to help us as we go along. 

In our family, all the adults have been vaccinated now, which is a very good thing. And we are still being just as careful as before, mostly staying home, not seeing much of family and friends beyond the virtual, and staying masked and distanced when we do venture out. One of our sons is still treating covid patients in a major hospital, and that's a dose of reality that keeps us all aware. My husband I both work at home most of the time, and being dedicated introverts, that's just fine with us — and a year later, we’re not climbing the walls quite yet.

But now and then, the stress and the strangeness of it creeps in, and I’m turning more and more to things that help me relax, stretch, clear the mind, fill the reserves.

“You used to be much more … muchier. You’ve lost your muchness,” said the Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland.

And I don’t want to go there, nor do you. Let’s all keep our muchness as we navigate our way through this Fire Swamp (while blithely mixing metaphors). TenorI hope you are faring well, and finding your own way through the swamp.

Here are a few of my favorite quotes – and some favorite images – that I hope will brighten your day.

Ramon casas

Ramon Casas, Jove

 “Ah! There is nothing like staying at home, for real comfort.”
Jane Austen, Emma



Abbot Handerson Thayer, Angel Waiting

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –

       –Emily Dickinson

"Don't underestimate the value of Doing Nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can't hear, and not bothering." –A. A. Milne, Winnie the Pooh

Perugini woman reading

Charles Perugini, Girl Reading, 1878

“Within you, there is a stillness and a sanctuary to which you can retreat at any time and be yourself.” —Hermann Hesse

"Peace is always beautiful."

— Walt Whitman



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Interview & Cover Reveal with Stephanie Dray!

Susan here. Today we're chatting with NYT bestselling author Stephanie Dray about her novels, the Hamilton musical phenomenon, and her forthcoming book about Lafayette, America’s so-called favorite fighting Frenchman and his legacy; you'll also find a link below to enter a sweepstakes for a chance to win an advanced copy of the book. And DrayAuthorPhotobe sure to visit the blog again tomorrow for a special treat–a cover reveal of the beautiful new cover! 

Susan: Welcome to Word Wenches, Stephanie! I've read your novel My Dear Hamilton, co-authored with Laura Kamoie, and loved it–an impressive blend of natural characters, accurate history, and a fascinating plot based on actual events. You've said that the book was inspired in part by Lin-Manuel Miranda’s incredible musical. Tell us a little more about that.

MyDearHamilton_PBStephanie: Thank you for having me, and I’d be delighted to talk about that! In the wake of writing about Jefferson’s daughter in America's First Daughter, Laura and I were on the hunt for another founding mother to write about. Eliza Hamilton was on our shortlist when we were in NYC for a writer’s conference and to meet with our editor. Laura decided to take in the musical when it was new on Broadway, but I couldn’t go because I had preexisting dinner plans with dear friends (sorry friends, that was a mistake! I should have canceled. LOL). Anyway, Laura was blowing up my phone with texts from the musical and by the next morning she was telling me how amazing it was and that we had to write about Eliza Hamilton, and I agreed on the cab ride over to our publishers. That’s how fast My Dear Hamilton was born. And fortunately, I did eventually go with Laura to see it on Broadway with the original cast.

Susan: And what did you think?

Stephanie: I was blown away. At first I didn’t understand what I was seeing or hearing, it was so unexpected. But by the second number I was in tears because I understood right away that I was watching a transformative work of historical Hamilton onstagefiction.

Susan: Why do you think the musical has remained so popular and is experiencing a whole new level of enthusiasm?

Stephanie: A pandemic that has us housebound and cruising for content on Disney+ definitely helps! Just kidding. I think the musical was originally popular because it was written in an optimistic era. It was an open invitation for a whole new generation to see themselves in the American story and make it their own. I think now it's seeing a resurgence in popularity because we’re caught in a historical moment where we’re forced to ask ourselves: What is the American story really? The musical is layered enough to provide a couple of different answers as well as more questions!

Susan: How do Lafayette and the women in your new novel fit into that American story?

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A Happy New Year!

Word wench 20Nicola here. Farewell to 2019 and to the "twenty tens!" As we enter a new decade, the Word Wenches would like to thank you for your continued support for the blog and wish you a very Happy New Year. Together, the Wenches and our blog readers form a community that loves chatting about history, books, writing and life in general. We look forward to many more discussions in the years ahead!

A hundred years ago in 1920, the new era was greeted with excitement in The New Woman western society. In the wake of the First World War, the "Roaring Twenties" were known for a period of economic prosperity and cultural development. In London the decade was ushered in with a number of very smart black tie events as well as some less formal partying! A hundred years on we are in a very different place but who knows what this new era will bring? As long as there are new books, old favourites and friends to talk to here, we'll be good! Wishing you and your loved ones all good things for the new year and the new decade!