I’ve just turned in the revisions for The Wicked Wyckerly (the book formerly known as Honest Scoundrel) and I’m muddling out the first draft of The Devilish Montague.
Muddle is the best word for what I’m doing at the moment. The problem is that I’ve been writing Georgian historicals for over a decade now, and I need to wrap my head back in Regency dates. And not even proper Regency since Wyckerly is 1807 and Montague is 1808. Prinny isn’t Regent yet. Lady Cowper (must remember this is pronounced Cooper) and Lady Jersey are barely out of adolescence, although married and having children, or in the process thereof. I have to slap my hand from including Lord Byron quotes since the boy (he was only 20) had only just published his first collection of poetry to scathing reviews. (Yes, critics even despised Byron) I’m familiar with all these names and personalities, but keeping them to young adulthood seems to be throwing me for a loop.
Really, if you think about it, the names so familiar to Regency readers were nothing but an overly indulged brat pack in the early 1800s. Lady Jersey (her mother-in-law was the notorious mistress of the Prince of Wales) and the Countess of Lieven were only 22 in 1807. Lady Cowper was the same age as Byron, 20. In a few short years, the ladies will turn an old-fashioned casino called Almacks into the biggest snob club in London. Can’t you just imagine all these wealthy, bored twenty-somethings deciding to form an exclusive assembly where they could reject everyone they didn’t like? My, how times don’t change. (Emily, Lady Cowper on the left; stylized Thomas Lawrence oil of the prince on the right above)
So here I am with this twenty-three-year-old heroine who knew all these snotty brats before they married their powerful husbands. It’s easy enough to play off the usual Regency stereotype of a bunch of idiosyncratic old married women running a Marriage Mart, but not in 1808. This requires work. Research. Carrying scraps of fact to natural conclusions. While I struggle with a plot line that’s run amuck. When memory and fact clash, I can run into serious trouble! (Almacks on the right, Brummel below)
Does anyone know if any of the well-known personalities from this era ended up with a long, happy, honorable life? I think we all know how Brummel and Byron ended up, but what about the ladies? Their elders certainly weren’t good examples of living healthy, moral lives, but surely some of their offspring overcame their early training?
Do you think it was wealth or experience that drove these ambitious young ladies to polish their power-mongering skills at such an early age? When you were 20, what power did you wield and what did you dream you would become? Has life provided enlightenment or disillusion since then?