The Harlot Interview: Part One

Royalharlotfront_cover
Interview by Loretta Chase

Susan Holloway Scott’s new
historical novel, ROYAL HARLOT, A Novel of the Countess of Castlemaine and King
Charles II, is a love story and then some.  The “then some” has mainly to do with the
Countess of Castlemaine’s extraordinary life and the way she chose to live
it. What follows is Part I (Part II
appears Friday) of my picking Susan’s brains about the characters and the world
she’s so beautifully created…in a book I loved so much that I read it
twice. Being a history nerd, I’ve
asked historical nerd kinds of questions–but you can ask your own or make your
own observations. One of you who
does so will win his/her own autographed copy of ROYAL
HARLOT.

Loretta: Your July book ROYAL HARLOT again takes us to Restoration England, but this time we start a few decades before the setting of your previous historical novel DUCHESS.  Once again, you’ve done an incredible job of establishing time and place.  To start, I’ll ask you to help set the stage for those of us not very familiar with this era.

Loretta: What and when was the Restoration era?
Susan: The seventeenth century is one of the most complex and contradictory eras in English history.  The Restoration refers to Charles II’s reign (1660-1682) following his ‘restoration’ to the throne after years of exile following the English Civil War.  For nearly a decade, England had been ruled by an army general, Oliver Cromwell, Lord Protector, and conservative Protestant extremists  who attempted to “purify” England of frivolous wickedness by banning everything from choral music and stained glass windoCharles_iiorder_of_the_garterws in churches to dancing, theatres, bright clothing, and Maypoles.  Many of the aristocratic families were ruined during the Civil War, their properties destroyed or confiscated by the new government, with many fathers and sons killed.  With Cromwell’s death in 1659, the English people decided they’d had enough, and welcomed Charles II back.  With him came the return of a very Merrie Old England.

The Restoration has much in common with other permissive eras that follow a repressive period, such as the Roaring 20s and the Swinging 60s.  (All it’s missing is a snappy modifying gerund.) Barbara typified an entire generation of aristocratic children with royalist sympathies who had grown to adulthood without the stability of homes, families, or an expected position in society.  In the most extreme cases, like Charles himself, they had led impoverished, gypsy-like existences in exile on the Continent.  As a result, many who would once again form a "ruling class" with the Restoration were rootless and wild, and often undereducated as well. (To the left is Charles in his coronation robes.)

Traditional morality went out the window.  Charles hoped England would be a country tolerant of all kinds of people and beliefs. There was a great deal of experimentation, not only in sexual behavior, but also in theatre, science, art, and music, even in fashion.   But like all such times, the high spirits of the Restoration couldn’t last: by Charles’s death, society was exhausted by so much freedom, and the pendulum swung back to a more conservative era under the sterner, more restrictive reigns of James II, William and Mary, and Anne.  It’s a fascinating time, looking forward to the humanist themes of the coming Age of Enlightenment, but still medieval enough for traitors to be hung, drawn, and quartered, their severed heads finally stuck on pikes on London Bridge as cheery warnings. 

Loretta: The court of King Charles II is not only a completely different world from the present-day royal court but from the courts with which a great many of us are somewhat familiar, those of the Georgian and Regency eras.  Would you tell us what that court was like?

Susan: Courts take on the character of their kings and queens, and Charles’s court was no different. 200pxcatherine_of_braganza
Like him, it craved amusement and gratification, and distinctly lacked formality. He liked witty people, and surrounded himself with gentlemen who made him laugh and beautiful women of every class.  There are numerous stories of visiting ambassadors attempting to conduct diplomatic meetings which are interrupted by the appearance of some laughing, half-naked woman, much to Charles’s delight and the ambassador’s shocked disapproval.  But while Charles had great affection for his barren queen, she was marginalized in the court, and his mistresses sat brazenly at Charles’s side.  His courtiers followed his lead, and the social atmosphere was bawdy and promiscuous, and given to all manner of excess.  (That’s Catherine of Braganza, Charles’s Queen, to the right.)

Yet it was also a place where intellectual adventure was encouraged.  Charles’s time in exile on the Continent had widened his interests beyond those of most English monarchs.  He dabbled in scientificCharles_w_pineapple
experiments in his own laboratory in the palace, and supported the kind of “new thinking” by men like Isaac Newton.  (To the right is a picture of Charles accepting the first pineapple to be grown in England –– a considerable horticultural feat at the time –– from the kneeling royal gardener who’d nursed the tropical plant along in a greenhouse.) After the Puritan drought, art and music were flourishing.  Charles sponsored one of London’s major theatre companies himself, encouraging new plays and playwrights for the city’s playhouses as well as court masques and entertainments with the same enthusiasm as his ancestor Queen Elizabeth I.  Clearly there was seldom a dull moment at Whitehall Palace.

There were momentous events outside the palace, too.  Charles’s reign saw the last major outbreak of the bubonic plague in England, a devastating epidemic that killed thousands of his subjects, followed soon after by the Great Fire, which destroyed much of London.  Over the same time, there were also several wars with the Dutch, which, though fought largely at sea and not on English lands, were costly both in money and life. 

Loretta: The Royal Harlot is Barbara Villiers, the Countess of Castlemaine, who seems to have been the queen of King Charles II’s many mistresses.  What made you choose this particular woman for your second historical novel?

Bv_shepherdess Susan: In every fiction and nonfiction book I’d read about the Restoration, Barbara is always painted as the blackest villain: ruthless, greedy, shrewish, and manipulative.  Yet she was Charles’s favorite and friend for many years, and he showed her and their children lasting affection until his death. I guessed there had to be more to her than the convenient monster, and that it would be a fascinating challenge to tell her side of the story. (That’s Barbara over there to the left in a portrait by Joseph Wright; she’s dressed as a shepherdess, complete with a shepherd’s crook and a fortune in pearls and sapphires from the King on her gown.)

Loretta: History has not looked kindly on Lady Castlemaine.  Do you think today’s readers are likely to find her more sympathetic or do you think she’ll always be controversial?

Barbaravilliersgasgay Susan: For the last three hundred years or so, the overwhelming majority of historians and chroniclers to address Barbara have been male. Barbara was a beautiful, high-born woman. She was also intelligent, shameless, and direct in her desires –– the infamous “woman of appetites,”  Such women are worrisome to a great many men; they’re unpredictable, challenging, and they don’t do what they’re told.  They make men nervous.

They’re also easy to denigrate: where a man is ambitious, a woman is avaricious.  A man is a shrewd politician, a woman is only a shrew, conniving and manipulative.  A man is forthright, a woman is shrill.  A man is a libertine, a rake, a player, but a woman’s a harlot, a slut, a ho.  Some things don’t seem to change, do they?   

Still, I’d like to think modern readers will be a bit more sympathetic to Barbara.  One doesn’t have to approve her immorality to find it fascinating reading.  As (female) historian Lady Antonia Fraser notes, “Barbara must have been tremendous fun.” (The portrait of Barbara up to the left is by the French painter, Henri Gascar, who
had a tendency to make all his sitters look French –– which was likely
why he was the favorite artist of Louise de Kerouelle, Duchess of
Portsmouth, and another of Charles’s mistresses.  It was also reason
enough for Barbara, always acutely conscious of any slights or
disregard, not to sit for him again.)

The_old_palace_of_whitehall_by_hend
Loretta:  What do you think, readers?  Bad girls — fun or not fun to read about?  Do you think modern readers are more sympathetic to women like Lady Castlemaine than her contemporaries who called her the "Great Imperial Whore"?  Do you believe that there’s still a double standard in fiction (and in life as well) –– that heroes can be men of vast sexual experience, while heroines are expected to be either virgins or widows, or at least true to one man?

What about BEING a bad girl? How do you think you’d behave if you were in Barbara’s place, riding in that carriage with the king through the gates of Whitehall Palace?  Would you be as bold and daring, or not?

Look for Part Two of the Harlot Interview on Friday!

115 thoughts on “The Harlot Interview: Part One”

  1. It sounds like a very interesting book. And though Barbara Villiers will no doubt be fun to read about, hers seems an exhausting life to me, having to scramble with all those other women for the king’s favour and the money that goes with it. Which you’d need doubly because of the children. Imagine having to be fascinating while pregnant or having recently given birth.
    As I see it the big dichotomy is not being bad or virtuous, it’s being financially dependent or not. If nobody can touch your money, you’re independent and you can do as you please, and you need not bother about what names people call you. But that luxury was available to very few women in the 17th century, and far too few women worldwide now.
    Could I just make a fussy little note and say that Elizabeth I was one of Charles II’s predecessors, not his ancestor? Now there was a woman who guarded her independence jealously, even though it meant having no child of her own to leave the throne to.

    Reply
  2. It sounds like a very interesting book. And though Barbara Villiers will no doubt be fun to read about, hers seems an exhausting life to me, having to scramble with all those other women for the king’s favour and the money that goes with it. Which you’d need doubly because of the children. Imagine having to be fascinating while pregnant or having recently given birth.
    As I see it the big dichotomy is not being bad or virtuous, it’s being financially dependent or not. If nobody can touch your money, you’re independent and you can do as you please, and you need not bother about what names people call you. But that luxury was available to very few women in the 17th century, and far too few women worldwide now.
    Could I just make a fussy little note and say that Elizabeth I was one of Charles II’s predecessors, not his ancestor? Now there was a woman who guarded her independence jealously, even though it meant having no child of her own to leave the throne to.

    Reply
  3. It sounds like a very interesting book. And though Barbara Villiers will no doubt be fun to read about, hers seems an exhausting life to me, having to scramble with all those other women for the king’s favour and the money that goes with it. Which you’d need doubly because of the children. Imagine having to be fascinating while pregnant or having recently given birth.
    As I see it the big dichotomy is not being bad or virtuous, it’s being financially dependent or not. If nobody can touch your money, you’re independent and you can do as you please, and you need not bother about what names people call you. But that luxury was available to very few women in the 17th century, and far too few women worldwide now.
    Could I just make a fussy little note and say that Elizabeth I was one of Charles II’s predecessors, not his ancestor? Now there was a woman who guarded her independence jealously, even though it meant having no child of her own to leave the throne to.

    Reply
  4. It sounds like a very interesting book. And though Barbara Villiers will no doubt be fun to read about, hers seems an exhausting life to me, having to scramble with all those other women for the king’s favour and the money that goes with it. Which you’d need doubly because of the children. Imagine having to be fascinating while pregnant or having recently given birth.
    As I see it the big dichotomy is not being bad or virtuous, it’s being financially dependent or not. If nobody can touch your money, you’re independent and you can do as you please, and you need not bother about what names people call you. But that luxury was available to very few women in the 17th century, and far too few women worldwide now.
    Could I just make a fussy little note and say that Elizabeth I was one of Charles II’s predecessors, not his ancestor? Now there was a woman who guarded her independence jealously, even though it meant having no child of her own to leave the throne to.

    Reply
  5. It sounds like a very interesting book. And though Barbara Villiers will no doubt be fun to read about, hers seems an exhausting life to me, having to scramble with all those other women for the king’s favour and the money that goes with it. Which you’d need doubly because of the children. Imagine having to be fascinating while pregnant or having recently given birth.
    As I see it the big dichotomy is not being bad or virtuous, it’s being financially dependent or not. If nobody can touch your money, you’re independent and you can do as you please, and you need not bother about what names people call you. But that luxury was available to very few women in the 17th century, and far too few women worldwide now.
    Could I just make a fussy little note and say that Elizabeth I was one of Charles II’s predecessors, not his ancestor? Now there was a woman who guarded her independence jealously, even though it meant having no child of her own to leave the throne to.

    Reply
  6. Ingrid,
    You may be as fussy as you like about the English monarchy, because you are entirely right. 🙂 My apologies for sloppily choosing the wrong word! Being childless, Elizabeth I had no descendants — a persistent problem with English royal families over the centuries.
    You’re right as well about how the real question for 17th century ladies was the financial one. After the fall of Cromwell, everyone was scrambling to recoup lost lands and fortunes. Barbara’s husband Roger first sent her to the king as a courier hoping that she could lobby on behalf of his family. Other gentlemen took more respectable paths, appealing directly to the king, or through Parliament.
    But for ladies with more virtue (or less inclination) than Barbara, lost fortunes meant no dowries, and with fewer suitable gentlemen left by the wars to marry anyway, there were in fact sadly far more high-born spinsters during the Restoration than merry, successful wantons like Barbara.
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  7. Ingrid,
    You may be as fussy as you like about the English monarchy, because you are entirely right. 🙂 My apologies for sloppily choosing the wrong word! Being childless, Elizabeth I had no descendants — a persistent problem with English royal families over the centuries.
    You’re right as well about how the real question for 17th century ladies was the financial one. After the fall of Cromwell, everyone was scrambling to recoup lost lands and fortunes. Barbara’s husband Roger first sent her to the king as a courier hoping that she could lobby on behalf of his family. Other gentlemen took more respectable paths, appealing directly to the king, or through Parliament.
    But for ladies with more virtue (or less inclination) than Barbara, lost fortunes meant no dowries, and with fewer suitable gentlemen left by the wars to marry anyway, there were in fact sadly far more high-born spinsters during the Restoration than merry, successful wantons like Barbara.
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  8. Ingrid,
    You may be as fussy as you like about the English monarchy, because you are entirely right. 🙂 My apologies for sloppily choosing the wrong word! Being childless, Elizabeth I had no descendants — a persistent problem with English royal families over the centuries.
    You’re right as well about how the real question for 17th century ladies was the financial one. After the fall of Cromwell, everyone was scrambling to recoup lost lands and fortunes. Barbara’s husband Roger first sent her to the king as a courier hoping that she could lobby on behalf of his family. Other gentlemen took more respectable paths, appealing directly to the king, or through Parliament.
    But for ladies with more virtue (or less inclination) than Barbara, lost fortunes meant no dowries, and with fewer suitable gentlemen left by the wars to marry anyway, there were in fact sadly far more high-born spinsters during the Restoration than merry, successful wantons like Barbara.
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  9. Ingrid,
    You may be as fussy as you like about the English monarchy, because you are entirely right. 🙂 My apologies for sloppily choosing the wrong word! Being childless, Elizabeth I had no descendants — a persistent problem with English royal families over the centuries.
    You’re right as well about how the real question for 17th century ladies was the financial one. After the fall of Cromwell, everyone was scrambling to recoup lost lands and fortunes. Barbara’s husband Roger first sent her to the king as a courier hoping that she could lobby on behalf of his family. Other gentlemen took more respectable paths, appealing directly to the king, or through Parliament.
    But for ladies with more virtue (or less inclination) than Barbara, lost fortunes meant no dowries, and with fewer suitable gentlemen left by the wars to marry anyway, there were in fact sadly far more high-born spinsters during the Restoration than merry, successful wantons like Barbara.
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  10. Ingrid,
    You may be as fussy as you like about the English monarchy, because you are entirely right. 🙂 My apologies for sloppily choosing the wrong word! Being childless, Elizabeth I had no descendants — a persistent problem with English royal families over the centuries.
    You’re right as well about how the real question for 17th century ladies was the financial one. After the fall of Cromwell, everyone was scrambling to recoup lost lands and fortunes. Barbara’s husband Roger first sent her to the king as a courier hoping that she could lobby on behalf of his family. Other gentlemen took more respectable paths, appealing directly to the king, or through Parliament.
    But for ladies with more virtue (or less inclination) than Barbara, lost fortunes meant no dowries, and with fewer suitable gentlemen left by the wars to marry anyway, there were in fact sadly far more high-born spinsters during the Restoration than merry, successful wantons like Barbara.
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  11. A wonderful observation of the Restoration era being so light on morals. Comparing it to the 20’s and 60’s makes it so easy for a
    none historian to understand.

    Reply
  12. A wonderful observation of the Restoration era being so light on morals. Comparing it to the 20’s and 60’s makes it so easy for a
    none historian to understand.

    Reply
  13. A wonderful observation of the Restoration era being so light on morals. Comparing it to the 20’s and 60’s makes it so easy for a
    none historian to understand.

    Reply
  14. A wonderful observation of the Restoration era being so light on morals. Comparing it to the 20’s and 60’s makes it so easy for a
    none historian to understand.

    Reply
  15. A wonderful observation of the Restoration era being so light on morals. Comparing it to the 20’s and 60’s makes it so easy for a
    none historian to understand.

    Reply
  16. Ingrid, you make a good point. The women we think of as bad girls, whether real or fictional like Scarlett O’Hara and Becky Sharp, are the ones who fight back when the deck is stacked against them instead of meekly bowing their heads and accepting all that gets dumped on them, like Amelia Sedley. (I remember reading once that Thackery was afraid women would resent his portait of Becky Sharp. He never understood that what women resented was being expected to admire Amelia Sedley.)
    As for being one, well, it’s always nice to fantasize about being the beautiful glamorous woman who leaves a trail of broken hearts behind, but in reality you would have to be selfish and indifferent to the feelings of others. In the long run, not a good prescription for happiness.
    Rakes too work better in fiction. In real life, they’re users – the narcissistic oafs who think they’re god’s gift to women. Pathetic when right in front of you, but with the enchantment of distance, instead of ending up a drunken poxy wreck like Rochester, the rake is transformed by love into Prince Charming. One reason we all enjoy fiction. Thank you, all you wenches.

    Reply
  17. Ingrid, you make a good point. The women we think of as bad girls, whether real or fictional like Scarlett O’Hara and Becky Sharp, are the ones who fight back when the deck is stacked against them instead of meekly bowing their heads and accepting all that gets dumped on them, like Amelia Sedley. (I remember reading once that Thackery was afraid women would resent his portait of Becky Sharp. He never understood that what women resented was being expected to admire Amelia Sedley.)
    As for being one, well, it’s always nice to fantasize about being the beautiful glamorous woman who leaves a trail of broken hearts behind, but in reality you would have to be selfish and indifferent to the feelings of others. In the long run, not a good prescription for happiness.
    Rakes too work better in fiction. In real life, they’re users – the narcissistic oafs who think they’re god’s gift to women. Pathetic when right in front of you, but with the enchantment of distance, instead of ending up a drunken poxy wreck like Rochester, the rake is transformed by love into Prince Charming. One reason we all enjoy fiction. Thank you, all you wenches.

    Reply
  18. Ingrid, you make a good point. The women we think of as bad girls, whether real or fictional like Scarlett O’Hara and Becky Sharp, are the ones who fight back when the deck is stacked against them instead of meekly bowing their heads and accepting all that gets dumped on them, like Amelia Sedley. (I remember reading once that Thackery was afraid women would resent his portait of Becky Sharp. He never understood that what women resented was being expected to admire Amelia Sedley.)
    As for being one, well, it’s always nice to fantasize about being the beautiful glamorous woman who leaves a trail of broken hearts behind, but in reality you would have to be selfish and indifferent to the feelings of others. In the long run, not a good prescription for happiness.
    Rakes too work better in fiction. In real life, they’re users – the narcissistic oafs who think they’re god’s gift to women. Pathetic when right in front of you, but with the enchantment of distance, instead of ending up a drunken poxy wreck like Rochester, the rake is transformed by love into Prince Charming. One reason we all enjoy fiction. Thank you, all you wenches.

    Reply
  19. Ingrid, you make a good point. The women we think of as bad girls, whether real or fictional like Scarlett O’Hara and Becky Sharp, are the ones who fight back when the deck is stacked against them instead of meekly bowing their heads and accepting all that gets dumped on them, like Amelia Sedley. (I remember reading once that Thackery was afraid women would resent his portait of Becky Sharp. He never understood that what women resented was being expected to admire Amelia Sedley.)
    As for being one, well, it’s always nice to fantasize about being the beautiful glamorous woman who leaves a trail of broken hearts behind, but in reality you would have to be selfish and indifferent to the feelings of others. In the long run, not a good prescription for happiness.
    Rakes too work better in fiction. In real life, they’re users – the narcissistic oafs who think they’re god’s gift to women. Pathetic when right in front of you, but with the enchantment of distance, instead of ending up a drunken poxy wreck like Rochester, the rake is transformed by love into Prince Charming. One reason we all enjoy fiction. Thank you, all you wenches.

    Reply
  20. Ingrid, you make a good point. The women we think of as bad girls, whether real or fictional like Scarlett O’Hara and Becky Sharp, are the ones who fight back when the deck is stacked against them instead of meekly bowing their heads and accepting all that gets dumped on them, like Amelia Sedley. (I remember reading once that Thackery was afraid women would resent his portait of Becky Sharp. He never understood that what women resented was being expected to admire Amelia Sedley.)
    As for being one, well, it’s always nice to fantasize about being the beautiful glamorous woman who leaves a trail of broken hearts behind, but in reality you would have to be selfish and indifferent to the feelings of others. In the long run, not a good prescription for happiness.
    Rakes too work better in fiction. In real life, they’re users – the narcissistic oafs who think they’re god’s gift to women. Pathetic when right in front of you, but with the enchantment of distance, instead of ending up a drunken poxy wreck like Rochester, the rake is transformed by love into Prince Charming. One reason we all enjoy fiction. Thank you, all you wenches.

    Reply
  21. So many interesting points raised in this blog and its comments. Having been a Bad Girl in my misspent youth, I could no doubt imagine being one in the Restoration period as well, provided I didn’t know then what I know now about STDs. I imagine that a king’s mistresses would be more likely to be faithful to him then those of lesser mortals, but still… did he have the clap, does anyone know? Or even something worse? No matter how pleasant and generous he was to his paramours, I can’t really admire the man, but I’m definitely going to get my hands on this book, as Barbara sounds very interesting.

    Reply
  22. So many interesting points raised in this blog and its comments. Having been a Bad Girl in my misspent youth, I could no doubt imagine being one in the Restoration period as well, provided I didn’t know then what I know now about STDs. I imagine that a king’s mistresses would be more likely to be faithful to him then those of lesser mortals, but still… did he have the clap, does anyone know? Or even something worse? No matter how pleasant and generous he was to his paramours, I can’t really admire the man, but I’m definitely going to get my hands on this book, as Barbara sounds very interesting.

    Reply
  23. So many interesting points raised in this blog and its comments. Having been a Bad Girl in my misspent youth, I could no doubt imagine being one in the Restoration period as well, provided I didn’t know then what I know now about STDs. I imagine that a king’s mistresses would be more likely to be faithful to him then those of lesser mortals, but still… did he have the clap, does anyone know? Or even something worse? No matter how pleasant and generous he was to his paramours, I can’t really admire the man, but I’m definitely going to get my hands on this book, as Barbara sounds very interesting.

    Reply
  24. So many interesting points raised in this blog and its comments. Having been a Bad Girl in my misspent youth, I could no doubt imagine being one in the Restoration period as well, provided I didn’t know then what I know now about STDs. I imagine that a king’s mistresses would be more likely to be faithful to him then those of lesser mortals, but still… did he have the clap, does anyone know? Or even something worse? No matter how pleasant and generous he was to his paramours, I can’t really admire the man, but I’m definitely going to get my hands on this book, as Barbara sounds very interesting.

    Reply
  25. So many interesting points raised in this blog and its comments. Having been a Bad Girl in my misspent youth, I could no doubt imagine being one in the Restoration period as well, provided I didn’t know then what I know now about STDs. I imagine that a king’s mistresses would be more likely to be faithful to him then those of lesser mortals, but still… did he have the clap, does anyone know? Or even something worse? No matter how pleasant and generous he was to his paramours, I can’t really admire the man, but I’m definitely going to get my hands on this book, as Barbara sounds very interesting.

    Reply
  26. I do think that Barbara was a woman of her times. She survived in the way that women have survived from time immortal. As one who was a teenager in the sixties I can understand her a bit I think. Men criticize and denigrate her, but what is different in her life than that of a woman who marries a man she doesn’t love just for money and social position?

    Reply
  27. I do think that Barbara was a woman of her times. She survived in the way that women have survived from time immortal. As one who was a teenager in the sixties I can understand her a bit I think. Men criticize and denigrate her, but what is different in her life than that of a woman who marries a man she doesn’t love just for money and social position?

    Reply
  28. I do think that Barbara was a woman of her times. She survived in the way that women have survived from time immortal. As one who was a teenager in the sixties I can understand her a bit I think. Men criticize and denigrate her, but what is different in her life than that of a woman who marries a man she doesn’t love just for money and social position?

    Reply
  29. I do think that Barbara was a woman of her times. She survived in the way that women have survived from time immortal. As one who was a teenager in the sixties I can understand her a bit I think. Men criticize and denigrate her, but what is different in her life than that of a woman who marries a man she doesn’t love just for money and social position?

    Reply
  30. I do think that Barbara was a woman of her times. She survived in the way that women have survived from time immortal. As one who was a teenager in the sixties I can understand her a bit I think. Men criticize and denigrate her, but what is different in her life than that of a woman who marries a man she doesn’t love just for money and social position?

    Reply
  31. It sounds to me like Bad Barb was not one who complacently morphed into respectability in her old age. I know little about her, which means I am greatly looking forward to reading about this Royal Harlot!
    I’m always fascinated by bad girls who turn respectable and wise in their old age. I think the early badness gives them a harder, more practical view of life and if they’re smart, they learn from their experiences and gradually morph into respectability–with a hard edge.
    There’s bad and then there’s bad. I knew some truly wicked evil low lifes in my youth, and many came to a bad end. I also knew people who were bad, but who went on to live responsible, productive lives.

    Reply
  32. It sounds to me like Bad Barb was not one who complacently morphed into respectability in her old age. I know little about her, which means I am greatly looking forward to reading about this Royal Harlot!
    I’m always fascinated by bad girls who turn respectable and wise in their old age. I think the early badness gives them a harder, more practical view of life and if they’re smart, they learn from their experiences and gradually morph into respectability–with a hard edge.
    There’s bad and then there’s bad. I knew some truly wicked evil low lifes in my youth, and many came to a bad end. I also knew people who were bad, but who went on to live responsible, productive lives.

    Reply
  33. It sounds to me like Bad Barb was not one who complacently morphed into respectability in her old age. I know little about her, which means I am greatly looking forward to reading about this Royal Harlot!
    I’m always fascinated by bad girls who turn respectable and wise in their old age. I think the early badness gives them a harder, more practical view of life and if they’re smart, they learn from their experiences and gradually morph into respectability–with a hard edge.
    There’s bad and then there’s bad. I knew some truly wicked evil low lifes in my youth, and many came to a bad end. I also knew people who were bad, but who went on to live responsible, productive lives.

    Reply
  34. It sounds to me like Bad Barb was not one who complacently morphed into respectability in her old age. I know little about her, which means I am greatly looking forward to reading about this Royal Harlot!
    I’m always fascinated by bad girls who turn respectable and wise in their old age. I think the early badness gives them a harder, more practical view of life and if they’re smart, they learn from their experiences and gradually morph into respectability–with a hard edge.
    There’s bad and then there’s bad. I knew some truly wicked evil low lifes in my youth, and many came to a bad end. I also knew people who were bad, but who went on to live responsible, productive lives.

    Reply
  35. It sounds to me like Bad Barb was not one who complacently morphed into respectability in her old age. I know little about her, which means I am greatly looking forward to reading about this Royal Harlot!
    I’m always fascinated by bad girls who turn respectable and wise in their old age. I think the early badness gives them a harder, more practical view of life and if they’re smart, they learn from their experiences and gradually morph into respectability–with a hard edge.
    There’s bad and then there’s bad. I knew some truly wicked evil low lifes in my youth, and many came to a bad end. I also knew people who were bad, but who went on to live responsible, productive lives.

    Reply
  36. Hi Susan,
    When completing your research for this book, did you research it all and then write? Or did you research while you were writing it?

    Reply
  37. Hi Susan,
    When completing your research for this book, did you research it all and then write? Or did you research while you were writing it?

    Reply
  38. Hi Susan,
    When completing your research for this book, did you research it all and then write? Or did you research while you were writing it?

    Reply
  39. Hi Susan,
    When completing your research for this book, did you research it all and then write? Or did you research while you were writing it?

    Reply
  40. Hi Susan,
    When completing your research for this book, did you research it all and then write? Or did you research while you were writing it?

    Reply
  41. Some of my favorite characters are the Bad Girls who use whatever tools are available to them (beauty, wit, whatever) in an effort to exert control over their own lives. Often in books or plays (especially those written by men) these women come to Bad Ends — mad, lonely, murdered. The Wenches have managed to have a number of strong women who may (or may not) be bad but who nonetheless insist on defining themselves rather than letting the world define them. I’ll be interested in seeing how a Real Life Bad Girl is portrayed in “Royal Harlot”.
    And Note to MJP: I did read Josephine Tey’s “Daughter of Time” at a very young and impressionable age and have not been able to see a production of Shakespeare’s “Richard III” since.

    Reply
  42. Some of my favorite characters are the Bad Girls who use whatever tools are available to them (beauty, wit, whatever) in an effort to exert control over their own lives. Often in books or plays (especially those written by men) these women come to Bad Ends — mad, lonely, murdered. The Wenches have managed to have a number of strong women who may (or may not) be bad but who nonetheless insist on defining themselves rather than letting the world define them. I’ll be interested in seeing how a Real Life Bad Girl is portrayed in “Royal Harlot”.
    And Note to MJP: I did read Josephine Tey’s “Daughter of Time” at a very young and impressionable age and have not been able to see a production of Shakespeare’s “Richard III” since.

    Reply
  43. Some of my favorite characters are the Bad Girls who use whatever tools are available to them (beauty, wit, whatever) in an effort to exert control over their own lives. Often in books or plays (especially those written by men) these women come to Bad Ends — mad, lonely, murdered. The Wenches have managed to have a number of strong women who may (or may not) be bad but who nonetheless insist on defining themselves rather than letting the world define them. I’ll be interested in seeing how a Real Life Bad Girl is portrayed in “Royal Harlot”.
    And Note to MJP: I did read Josephine Tey’s “Daughter of Time” at a very young and impressionable age and have not been able to see a production of Shakespeare’s “Richard III” since.

    Reply
  44. Some of my favorite characters are the Bad Girls who use whatever tools are available to them (beauty, wit, whatever) in an effort to exert control over their own lives. Often in books or plays (especially those written by men) these women come to Bad Ends — mad, lonely, murdered. The Wenches have managed to have a number of strong women who may (or may not) be bad but who nonetheless insist on defining themselves rather than letting the world define them. I’ll be interested in seeing how a Real Life Bad Girl is portrayed in “Royal Harlot”.
    And Note to MJP: I did read Josephine Tey’s “Daughter of Time” at a very young and impressionable age and have not been able to see a production of Shakespeare’s “Richard III” since.

    Reply
  45. Some of my favorite characters are the Bad Girls who use whatever tools are available to them (beauty, wit, whatever) in an effort to exert control over their own lives. Often in books or plays (especially those written by men) these women come to Bad Ends — mad, lonely, murdered. The Wenches have managed to have a number of strong women who may (or may not) be bad but who nonetheless insist on defining themselves rather than letting the world define them. I’ll be interested in seeing how a Real Life Bad Girl is portrayed in “Royal Harlot”.
    And Note to MJP: I did read Josephine Tey’s “Daughter of Time” at a very young and impressionable age and have not been able to see a production of Shakespeare’s “Richard III” since.

    Reply
  46. I read Royal Harlot last week, and it has joined Duchess on my keeper shelf. I thought your characterization of Barbara was superb, and the novel raises so many interesting questions about female power and male responses. In fact, I recommended it to a friend who teaches a women in literature course. I think it would be a great classroom book.
    Now I am looking forward even more eagerly to Nell Gwynn’s story.

    Reply
  47. I read Royal Harlot last week, and it has joined Duchess on my keeper shelf. I thought your characterization of Barbara was superb, and the novel raises so many interesting questions about female power and male responses. In fact, I recommended it to a friend who teaches a women in literature course. I think it would be a great classroom book.
    Now I am looking forward even more eagerly to Nell Gwynn’s story.

    Reply
  48. I read Royal Harlot last week, and it has joined Duchess on my keeper shelf. I thought your characterization of Barbara was superb, and the novel raises so many interesting questions about female power and male responses. In fact, I recommended it to a friend who teaches a women in literature course. I think it would be a great classroom book.
    Now I am looking forward even more eagerly to Nell Gwynn’s story.

    Reply
  49. I read Royal Harlot last week, and it has joined Duchess on my keeper shelf. I thought your characterization of Barbara was superb, and the novel raises so many interesting questions about female power and male responses. In fact, I recommended it to a friend who teaches a women in literature course. I think it would be a great classroom book.
    Now I am looking forward even more eagerly to Nell Gwynn’s story.

    Reply
  50. I read Royal Harlot last week, and it has joined Duchess on my keeper shelf. I thought your characterization of Barbara was superb, and the novel raises so many interesting questions about female power and male responses. In fact, I recommended it to a friend who teaches a women in literature course. I think it would be a great classroom book.
    Now I am looking forward even more eagerly to Nell Gwynn’s story.

    Reply
  51. I think the economic argument is a very good one. In the case of Lady Castlemaine, the family fortune’s gone, her father’s dead, and her mother doesn’t like her much. Barbara had to make her own way in the world, and what strikes me is the exuberance with which she lived her life. I kept thinking of the famous Andrew Marvell poem, To His Coy Mistress, and the lines “Let us roll all our strength and all/Our sweetness up into one ball,/and tear our pleasures with rough strife/Thorough the iron gates of life:/Thus though we cannot make our sun/Stand still, yet we will make him run.” Carpe diem, in other words, but more beautifully said. Susan/Miranda’s novel gives us a lady who seems to have lived her life on those terms.

    Reply
  52. I think the economic argument is a very good one. In the case of Lady Castlemaine, the family fortune’s gone, her father’s dead, and her mother doesn’t like her much. Barbara had to make her own way in the world, and what strikes me is the exuberance with which she lived her life. I kept thinking of the famous Andrew Marvell poem, To His Coy Mistress, and the lines “Let us roll all our strength and all/Our sweetness up into one ball,/and tear our pleasures with rough strife/Thorough the iron gates of life:/Thus though we cannot make our sun/Stand still, yet we will make him run.” Carpe diem, in other words, but more beautifully said. Susan/Miranda’s novel gives us a lady who seems to have lived her life on those terms.

    Reply
  53. I think the economic argument is a very good one. In the case of Lady Castlemaine, the family fortune’s gone, her father’s dead, and her mother doesn’t like her much. Barbara had to make her own way in the world, and what strikes me is the exuberance with which she lived her life. I kept thinking of the famous Andrew Marvell poem, To His Coy Mistress, and the lines “Let us roll all our strength and all/Our sweetness up into one ball,/and tear our pleasures with rough strife/Thorough the iron gates of life:/Thus though we cannot make our sun/Stand still, yet we will make him run.” Carpe diem, in other words, but more beautifully said. Susan/Miranda’s novel gives us a lady who seems to have lived her life on those terms.

    Reply
  54. I think the economic argument is a very good one. In the case of Lady Castlemaine, the family fortune’s gone, her father’s dead, and her mother doesn’t like her much. Barbara had to make her own way in the world, and what strikes me is the exuberance with which she lived her life. I kept thinking of the famous Andrew Marvell poem, To His Coy Mistress, and the lines “Let us roll all our strength and all/Our sweetness up into one ball,/and tear our pleasures with rough strife/Thorough the iron gates of life:/Thus though we cannot make our sun/Stand still, yet we will make him run.” Carpe diem, in other words, but more beautifully said. Susan/Miranda’s novel gives us a lady who seems to have lived her life on those terms.

    Reply
  55. I think the economic argument is a very good one. In the case of Lady Castlemaine, the family fortune’s gone, her father’s dead, and her mother doesn’t like her much. Barbara had to make her own way in the world, and what strikes me is the exuberance with which she lived her life. I kept thinking of the famous Andrew Marvell poem, To His Coy Mistress, and the lines “Let us roll all our strength and all/Our sweetness up into one ball,/and tear our pleasures with rough strife/Thorough the iron gates of life:/Thus though we cannot make our sun/Stand still, yet we will make him run.” Carpe diem, in other words, but more beautifully said. Susan/Miranda’s novel gives us a lady who seems to have lived her life on those terms.

    Reply
  56. I look forward to picking up this book because Lady Castlemaine sounds so very interesting. As far as women and history – well, it is HIStory and many times women who went against the status quo were regarded as social pariahs. Would I have wanted to be one? Heck no, but I enjoy reading about them.

    Reply
  57. I look forward to picking up this book because Lady Castlemaine sounds so very interesting. As far as women and history – well, it is HIStory and many times women who went against the status quo were regarded as social pariahs. Would I have wanted to be one? Heck no, but I enjoy reading about them.

    Reply
  58. I look forward to picking up this book because Lady Castlemaine sounds so very interesting. As far as women and history – well, it is HIStory and many times women who went against the status quo were regarded as social pariahs. Would I have wanted to be one? Heck no, but I enjoy reading about them.

    Reply
  59. I look forward to picking up this book because Lady Castlemaine sounds so very interesting. As far as women and history – well, it is HIStory and many times women who went against the status quo were regarded as social pariahs. Would I have wanted to be one? Heck no, but I enjoy reading about them.

    Reply
  60. I look forward to picking up this book because Lady Castlemaine sounds so very interesting. As far as women and history – well, it is HIStory and many times women who went against the status quo were regarded as social pariahs. Would I have wanted to be one? Heck no, but I enjoy reading about them.

    Reply
  61. Social class may have something to do with how favorably a bad girl is viewed. Nell Gwyn has had much better press over the years than Barbara C., perhaps because Nell came from such humble beginnings to become Charles’ mistress– the assumption being, I guess, that it’s okay to to be a ho if you have to… but Barbara’s C’s circumstances may have seemed just as dire, from her point of view, as Nell’s to people in general.
    I never can resist recommending books. Two of my favorites are about this time period: Hobberdy Dick by K.M. Briggs, a young adult novel that takes place just before the Restoration, and The Vizard Mask by Diana Norman, which spans the reigns of Charles II, James II, and William and Mary.
    Barbara Monajem

    Reply
  62. Social class may have something to do with how favorably a bad girl is viewed. Nell Gwyn has had much better press over the years than Barbara C., perhaps because Nell came from such humble beginnings to become Charles’ mistress– the assumption being, I guess, that it’s okay to to be a ho if you have to… but Barbara’s C’s circumstances may have seemed just as dire, from her point of view, as Nell’s to people in general.
    I never can resist recommending books. Two of my favorites are about this time period: Hobberdy Dick by K.M. Briggs, a young adult novel that takes place just before the Restoration, and The Vizard Mask by Diana Norman, which spans the reigns of Charles II, James II, and William and Mary.
    Barbara Monajem

    Reply
  63. Social class may have something to do with how favorably a bad girl is viewed. Nell Gwyn has had much better press over the years than Barbara C., perhaps because Nell came from such humble beginnings to become Charles’ mistress– the assumption being, I guess, that it’s okay to to be a ho if you have to… but Barbara’s C’s circumstances may have seemed just as dire, from her point of view, as Nell’s to people in general.
    I never can resist recommending books. Two of my favorites are about this time period: Hobberdy Dick by K.M. Briggs, a young adult novel that takes place just before the Restoration, and The Vizard Mask by Diana Norman, which spans the reigns of Charles II, James II, and William and Mary.
    Barbara Monajem

    Reply
  64. Social class may have something to do with how favorably a bad girl is viewed. Nell Gwyn has had much better press over the years than Barbara C., perhaps because Nell came from such humble beginnings to become Charles’ mistress– the assumption being, I guess, that it’s okay to to be a ho if you have to… but Barbara’s C’s circumstances may have seemed just as dire, from her point of view, as Nell’s to people in general.
    I never can resist recommending books. Two of my favorites are about this time period: Hobberdy Dick by K.M. Briggs, a young adult novel that takes place just before the Restoration, and The Vizard Mask by Diana Norman, which spans the reigns of Charles II, James II, and William and Mary.
    Barbara Monajem

    Reply
  65. Social class may have something to do with how favorably a bad girl is viewed. Nell Gwyn has had much better press over the years than Barbara C., perhaps because Nell came from such humble beginnings to become Charles’ mistress– the assumption being, I guess, that it’s okay to to be a ho if you have to… but Barbara’s C’s circumstances may have seemed just as dire, from her point of view, as Nell’s to people in general.
    I never can resist recommending books. Two of my favorites are about this time period: Hobberdy Dick by K.M. Briggs, a young adult novel that takes place just before the Restoration, and The Vizard Mask by Diana Norman, which spans the reigns of Charles II, James II, and William and Mary.
    Barbara Monajem

    Reply
  66. Social class may have something to do with how favorably a bad girl is viewed. Nell Gwyn has had much better press over the years than Barbara C., perhaps because Nell came from such humble beginnings to become Charles’ mistress– the assumption being, I guess, that it’s okay to to be a ho if you have to… but Barbara’s C’s circumstances may have seemed just as dire, from her point of view, as Nell’s to people in general.
    I never can resist recommending books. Two of my favorites are about this time period: Hobberdy Dick by K.M. Briggs, a young adult novel that takes place just before the Restoration, and The Vizard Mask by Diana Norman, which spans the reigns of Charles II, James II, and William and Mary.
    Barbara Monajem

    Reply
  67. Social class may have something to do with how favorably a bad girl is viewed. Nell Gwyn has had much better press over the years than Barbara C., perhaps because Nell came from such humble beginnings to become Charles’ mistress– the assumption being, I guess, that it’s okay to to be a ho if you have to… but Barbara’s C’s circumstances may have seemed just as dire, from her point of view, as Nell’s to people in general.
    I never can resist recommending books. Two of my favorites are about this time period: Hobberdy Dick by K.M. Briggs, a young adult novel that takes place just before the Restoration, and The Vizard Mask by Diana Norman, which spans the reigns of Charles II, James II, and William and Mary.
    Barbara Monajem

    Reply
  68. Social class may have something to do with how favorably a bad girl is viewed. Nell Gwyn has had much better press over the years than Barbara C., perhaps because Nell came from such humble beginnings to become Charles’ mistress– the assumption being, I guess, that it’s okay to to be a ho if you have to… but Barbara’s C’s circumstances may have seemed just as dire, from her point of view, as Nell’s to people in general.
    I never can resist recommending books. Two of my favorites are about this time period: Hobberdy Dick by K.M. Briggs, a young adult novel that takes place just before the Restoration, and The Vizard Mask by Diana Norman, which spans the reigns of Charles II, James II, and William and Mary.
    Barbara Monajem

    Reply
  69. Social class may have something to do with how favorably a bad girl is viewed. Nell Gwyn has had much better press over the years than Barbara C., perhaps because Nell came from such humble beginnings to become Charles’ mistress– the assumption being, I guess, that it’s okay to to be a ho if you have to… but Barbara’s C’s circumstances may have seemed just as dire, from her point of view, as Nell’s to people in general.
    I never can resist recommending books. Two of my favorites are about this time period: Hobberdy Dick by K.M. Briggs, a young adult novel that takes place just before the Restoration, and The Vizard Mask by Diana Norman, which spans the reigns of Charles II, James II, and William and Mary.
    Barbara Monajem

    Reply
  70. Social class may have something to do with how favorably a bad girl is viewed. Nell Gwyn has had much better press over the years than Barbara C., perhaps because Nell came from such humble beginnings to become Charles’ mistress– the assumption being, I guess, that it’s okay to to be a ho if you have to… but Barbara’s C’s circumstances may have seemed just as dire, from her point of view, as Nell’s to people in general.
    I never can resist recommending books. Two of my favorites are about this time period: Hobberdy Dick by K.M. Briggs, a young adult novel that takes place just before the Restoration, and The Vizard Mask by Diana Norman, which spans the reigns of Charles II, James II, and William and Mary.
    Barbara Monajem

    Reply
  71. Susan/Miranda here, and whoa, a lot to answer! 🙂
    Ingrid wrote:”Rakes too work better in fiction. In real life, they’re users – the narcissistic oafs who think they’re god’s gift to women. Pathetic when right in front of you, but with the enchantment of distance, instead of ending up a drunken poxy wreck like Rochester, the rake is transformed by love into Prince Charming. One reason we all enjoy fiction.”
    This is also the reason we writers like to WRITE fiction, Ingrid. We get to end the story at a satisfying place for everyone — readers, writer, and characters.
    Elaine asked: “Did [the king] have the clap, does anyone know?”
    Well, no one knows absolutely for sure, but I think it’s probably most likely, given the wide scope of his, um, activity. As Dr. Josh explained in his blog, veneral diseases manifest themselves in different ways in different people. A good many of the courtiers who looked askance at Rochester’s very visible physical decay and ultimate death were probably equally infected, but just didn’t realize it.
    Charles’s death was attributed to apolplexy and over-zealous doctors, but it could well have been an STD — which could also be the real cause behind other vague historical causes-of-deaths.
    Bonnie wrote: “Men criticize and denigrate [Barbara}, but what is different in her life than that of a woman who marries a man she doesn’t love just for money and social position?”
    Exactly. Barbara married Roger Palmer for all the right/wrong reasons: he was a gentleman, he had money, an estate, and connections. He loved her. Her mother thought he was a catch. Everything should have made it a perfect match, yet it must have been one of the most disasterous marriages of all time. Being Charles’s mistress wouldn’t have worked for every woman, but it did for Barbara.
    Sherrie wrote: “I’m always fascinated by bad girls who turn respectable and wise in their old age.”
    Barbara didn’t exactly turn respectable. She devoted much of her middle years to making sure her children were educated and suitably married, but she also continued to have lovers and gamble. In her 50s, she had the misfortune to marry a charming but abusive bigamist named Beau Fielding (is that a name or what?) who burned through much of her fortune. Her sons managed to salvage both her and what was left of her money, and she died quietly at a fine old age at a grandson’s home in the country, surrounded by grieving family members.
    I find it interesting (and telling) that Barbara’s children were always devoted to her, while the infinitely more respectable Sarah Churchill wasn’t speaking to any of her daughters by the time she died, so thoroughly alone that now no one is certain exactly when she died.
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  72. Susan/Miranda here, and whoa, a lot to answer! 🙂
    Ingrid wrote:”Rakes too work better in fiction. In real life, they’re users – the narcissistic oafs who think they’re god’s gift to women. Pathetic when right in front of you, but with the enchantment of distance, instead of ending up a drunken poxy wreck like Rochester, the rake is transformed by love into Prince Charming. One reason we all enjoy fiction.”
    This is also the reason we writers like to WRITE fiction, Ingrid. We get to end the story at a satisfying place for everyone — readers, writer, and characters.
    Elaine asked: “Did [the king] have the clap, does anyone know?”
    Well, no one knows absolutely for sure, but I think it’s probably most likely, given the wide scope of his, um, activity. As Dr. Josh explained in his blog, veneral diseases manifest themselves in different ways in different people. A good many of the courtiers who looked askance at Rochester’s very visible physical decay and ultimate death were probably equally infected, but just didn’t realize it.
    Charles’s death was attributed to apolplexy and over-zealous doctors, but it could well have been an STD — which could also be the real cause behind other vague historical causes-of-deaths.
    Bonnie wrote: “Men criticize and denigrate [Barbara}, but what is different in her life than that of a woman who marries a man she doesn’t love just for money and social position?”
    Exactly. Barbara married Roger Palmer for all the right/wrong reasons: he was a gentleman, he had money, an estate, and connections. He loved her. Her mother thought he was a catch. Everything should have made it a perfect match, yet it must have been one of the most disasterous marriages of all time. Being Charles’s mistress wouldn’t have worked for every woman, but it did for Barbara.
    Sherrie wrote: “I’m always fascinated by bad girls who turn respectable and wise in their old age.”
    Barbara didn’t exactly turn respectable. She devoted much of her middle years to making sure her children were educated and suitably married, but she also continued to have lovers and gamble. In her 50s, she had the misfortune to marry a charming but abusive bigamist named Beau Fielding (is that a name or what?) who burned through much of her fortune. Her sons managed to salvage both her and what was left of her money, and she died quietly at a fine old age at a grandson’s home in the country, surrounded by grieving family members.
    I find it interesting (and telling) that Barbara’s children were always devoted to her, while the infinitely more respectable Sarah Churchill wasn’t speaking to any of her daughters by the time she died, so thoroughly alone that now no one is certain exactly when she died.
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  73. Susan/Miranda here, and whoa, a lot to answer! 🙂
    Ingrid wrote:”Rakes too work better in fiction. In real life, they’re users – the narcissistic oafs who think they’re god’s gift to women. Pathetic when right in front of you, but with the enchantment of distance, instead of ending up a drunken poxy wreck like Rochester, the rake is transformed by love into Prince Charming. One reason we all enjoy fiction.”
    This is also the reason we writers like to WRITE fiction, Ingrid. We get to end the story at a satisfying place for everyone — readers, writer, and characters.
    Elaine asked: “Did [the king] have the clap, does anyone know?”
    Well, no one knows absolutely for sure, but I think it’s probably most likely, given the wide scope of his, um, activity. As Dr. Josh explained in his blog, veneral diseases manifest themselves in different ways in different people. A good many of the courtiers who looked askance at Rochester’s very visible physical decay and ultimate death were probably equally infected, but just didn’t realize it.
    Charles’s death was attributed to apolplexy and over-zealous doctors, but it could well have been an STD — which could also be the real cause behind other vague historical causes-of-deaths.
    Bonnie wrote: “Men criticize and denigrate [Barbara}, but what is different in her life than that of a woman who marries a man she doesn’t love just for money and social position?”
    Exactly. Barbara married Roger Palmer for all the right/wrong reasons: he was a gentleman, he had money, an estate, and connections. He loved her. Her mother thought he was a catch. Everything should have made it a perfect match, yet it must have been one of the most disasterous marriages of all time. Being Charles’s mistress wouldn’t have worked for every woman, but it did for Barbara.
    Sherrie wrote: “I’m always fascinated by bad girls who turn respectable and wise in their old age.”
    Barbara didn’t exactly turn respectable. She devoted much of her middle years to making sure her children were educated and suitably married, but she also continued to have lovers and gamble. In her 50s, she had the misfortune to marry a charming but abusive bigamist named Beau Fielding (is that a name or what?) who burned through much of her fortune. Her sons managed to salvage both her and what was left of her money, and she died quietly at a fine old age at a grandson’s home in the country, surrounded by grieving family members.
    I find it interesting (and telling) that Barbara’s children were always devoted to her, while the infinitely more respectable Sarah Churchill wasn’t speaking to any of her daughters by the time she died, so thoroughly alone that now no one is certain exactly when she died.
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  74. Susan/Miranda here, and whoa, a lot to answer! 🙂
    Ingrid wrote:”Rakes too work better in fiction. In real life, they’re users – the narcissistic oafs who think they’re god’s gift to women. Pathetic when right in front of you, but with the enchantment of distance, instead of ending up a drunken poxy wreck like Rochester, the rake is transformed by love into Prince Charming. One reason we all enjoy fiction.”
    This is also the reason we writers like to WRITE fiction, Ingrid. We get to end the story at a satisfying place for everyone — readers, writer, and characters.
    Elaine asked: “Did [the king] have the clap, does anyone know?”
    Well, no one knows absolutely for sure, but I think it’s probably most likely, given the wide scope of his, um, activity. As Dr. Josh explained in his blog, veneral diseases manifest themselves in different ways in different people. A good many of the courtiers who looked askance at Rochester’s very visible physical decay and ultimate death were probably equally infected, but just didn’t realize it.
    Charles’s death was attributed to apolplexy and over-zealous doctors, but it could well have been an STD — which could also be the real cause behind other vague historical causes-of-deaths.
    Bonnie wrote: “Men criticize and denigrate [Barbara}, but what is different in her life than that of a woman who marries a man she doesn’t love just for money and social position?”
    Exactly. Barbara married Roger Palmer for all the right/wrong reasons: he was a gentleman, he had money, an estate, and connections. He loved her. Her mother thought he was a catch. Everything should have made it a perfect match, yet it must have been one of the most disasterous marriages of all time. Being Charles’s mistress wouldn’t have worked for every woman, but it did for Barbara.
    Sherrie wrote: “I’m always fascinated by bad girls who turn respectable and wise in their old age.”
    Barbara didn’t exactly turn respectable. She devoted much of her middle years to making sure her children were educated and suitably married, but she also continued to have lovers and gamble. In her 50s, she had the misfortune to marry a charming but abusive bigamist named Beau Fielding (is that a name or what?) who burned through much of her fortune. Her sons managed to salvage both her and what was left of her money, and she died quietly at a fine old age at a grandson’s home in the country, surrounded by grieving family members.
    I find it interesting (and telling) that Barbara’s children were always devoted to her, while the infinitely more respectable Sarah Churchill wasn’t speaking to any of her daughters by the time she died, so thoroughly alone that now no one is certain exactly when she died.
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  75. Susan/Miranda here, and whoa, a lot to answer! 🙂
    Ingrid wrote:”Rakes too work better in fiction. In real life, they’re users – the narcissistic oafs who think they’re god’s gift to women. Pathetic when right in front of you, but with the enchantment of distance, instead of ending up a drunken poxy wreck like Rochester, the rake is transformed by love into Prince Charming. One reason we all enjoy fiction.”
    This is also the reason we writers like to WRITE fiction, Ingrid. We get to end the story at a satisfying place for everyone — readers, writer, and characters.
    Elaine asked: “Did [the king] have the clap, does anyone know?”
    Well, no one knows absolutely for sure, but I think it’s probably most likely, given the wide scope of his, um, activity. As Dr. Josh explained in his blog, veneral diseases manifest themselves in different ways in different people. A good many of the courtiers who looked askance at Rochester’s very visible physical decay and ultimate death were probably equally infected, but just didn’t realize it.
    Charles’s death was attributed to apolplexy and over-zealous doctors, but it could well have been an STD — which could also be the real cause behind other vague historical causes-of-deaths.
    Bonnie wrote: “Men criticize and denigrate [Barbara}, but what is different in her life than that of a woman who marries a man she doesn’t love just for money and social position?”
    Exactly. Barbara married Roger Palmer for all the right/wrong reasons: he was a gentleman, he had money, an estate, and connections. He loved her. Her mother thought he was a catch. Everything should have made it a perfect match, yet it must have been one of the most disasterous marriages of all time. Being Charles’s mistress wouldn’t have worked for every woman, but it did for Barbara.
    Sherrie wrote: “I’m always fascinated by bad girls who turn respectable and wise in their old age.”
    Barbara didn’t exactly turn respectable. She devoted much of her middle years to making sure her children were educated and suitably married, but she also continued to have lovers and gamble. In her 50s, she had the misfortune to marry a charming but abusive bigamist named Beau Fielding (is that a name or what?) who burned through much of her fortune. Her sons managed to salvage both her and what was left of her money, and she died quietly at a fine old age at a grandson’s home in the country, surrounded by grieving family members.
    I find it interesting (and telling) that Barbara’s children were always devoted to her, while the infinitely more respectable Sarah Churchill wasn’t speaking to any of her daughters by the time she died, so thoroughly alone that now no one is certain exactly when she died.
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  76. Susan/Miranda still here, answering more:
    Bonnie Lass wrote: “When completing your research for this book, did you research it all and then write? Or did you research while you were writing it?”
    There’s different kinds of research behind most historical fiction. There’s the general getting-dates-and-major-events-right kind of research, and that gets done while I’m still working on the story. There’s the research that’s specific to the main characters, such as diaries, biographies, and other monographs, and that goes on while I write. Finally, there’s the background research, such as hairstyles, street names, and how long it takes to get from Greenwich to Whitehall, and that’s ongoing too, scene by scene.
    There’s also the occassional really swell historical fact that I stumble across late, and that gets inserted, oh, all the way during galley revisions *g* (but I’m not supposed to mention that.)
    Mary Jo wrote: “Powerful women have always been scurrilously attacked, and the sex card is played most often. (See Catherine the Great of Russia. And it’s still true today. Evidence abounds.)”
    Yes. There are far too many latter-day male historians who still toss the ol’ “nymphomaniac” slander at both Barbara and Catherine the Great. “She loved sex! She was insatiatable — crazy! She was a NYMPHO!” Oh, yeah….
    Janga — thank you so much for your praise! I love thinking of Barbara popping up on a college syllabus. *G* She’d be a nice counterpoint to all the doomed-for-passion heroines like Anna Karenina and Tess of the D’Urbervilles.
    Loretta — Ahh, Andrew Marvell ALWAYS says it better! *g*
    Barbara Monajem wrote: “Nell Gwyn has had much better press over the years than Barbara C., perhaps because Nell came from such humble beginnings to become Charles’ mistress– the assumption being, I guess, that it’s okay to to be a ho if you have to…”
    The difference between Nell and Barbara is fascinating. Nell has become a bonafide English folk heroine, while Barbara is reviled. I agree that the economic background probably has much to do with it, but also because Nell was serially faithful — she never played around — and cheerfully unapologetic about her life, never fogetting or hiding her humble roots in a Covent Garden brothel.
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  77. Susan/Miranda still here, answering more:
    Bonnie Lass wrote: “When completing your research for this book, did you research it all and then write? Or did you research while you were writing it?”
    There’s different kinds of research behind most historical fiction. There’s the general getting-dates-and-major-events-right kind of research, and that gets done while I’m still working on the story. There’s the research that’s specific to the main characters, such as diaries, biographies, and other monographs, and that goes on while I write. Finally, there’s the background research, such as hairstyles, street names, and how long it takes to get from Greenwich to Whitehall, and that’s ongoing too, scene by scene.
    There’s also the occassional really swell historical fact that I stumble across late, and that gets inserted, oh, all the way during galley revisions *g* (but I’m not supposed to mention that.)
    Mary Jo wrote: “Powerful women have always been scurrilously attacked, and the sex card is played most often. (See Catherine the Great of Russia. And it’s still true today. Evidence abounds.)”
    Yes. There are far too many latter-day male historians who still toss the ol’ “nymphomaniac” slander at both Barbara and Catherine the Great. “She loved sex! She was insatiatable — crazy! She was a NYMPHO!” Oh, yeah….
    Janga — thank you so much for your praise! I love thinking of Barbara popping up on a college syllabus. *G* She’d be a nice counterpoint to all the doomed-for-passion heroines like Anna Karenina and Tess of the D’Urbervilles.
    Loretta — Ahh, Andrew Marvell ALWAYS says it better! *g*
    Barbara Monajem wrote: “Nell Gwyn has had much better press over the years than Barbara C., perhaps because Nell came from such humble beginnings to become Charles’ mistress– the assumption being, I guess, that it’s okay to to be a ho if you have to…”
    The difference between Nell and Barbara is fascinating. Nell has become a bonafide English folk heroine, while Barbara is reviled. I agree that the economic background probably has much to do with it, but also because Nell was serially faithful — she never played around — and cheerfully unapologetic about her life, never fogetting or hiding her humble roots in a Covent Garden brothel.
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  78. Susan/Miranda still here, answering more:
    Bonnie Lass wrote: “When completing your research for this book, did you research it all and then write? Or did you research while you were writing it?”
    There’s different kinds of research behind most historical fiction. There’s the general getting-dates-and-major-events-right kind of research, and that gets done while I’m still working on the story. There’s the research that’s specific to the main characters, such as diaries, biographies, and other monographs, and that goes on while I write. Finally, there’s the background research, such as hairstyles, street names, and how long it takes to get from Greenwich to Whitehall, and that’s ongoing too, scene by scene.
    There’s also the occassional really swell historical fact that I stumble across late, and that gets inserted, oh, all the way during galley revisions *g* (but I’m not supposed to mention that.)
    Mary Jo wrote: “Powerful women have always been scurrilously attacked, and the sex card is played most often. (See Catherine the Great of Russia. And it’s still true today. Evidence abounds.)”
    Yes. There are far too many latter-day male historians who still toss the ol’ “nymphomaniac” slander at both Barbara and Catherine the Great. “She loved sex! She was insatiatable — crazy! She was a NYMPHO!” Oh, yeah….
    Janga — thank you so much for your praise! I love thinking of Barbara popping up on a college syllabus. *G* She’d be a nice counterpoint to all the doomed-for-passion heroines like Anna Karenina and Tess of the D’Urbervilles.
    Loretta — Ahh, Andrew Marvell ALWAYS says it better! *g*
    Barbara Monajem wrote: “Nell Gwyn has had much better press over the years than Barbara C., perhaps because Nell came from such humble beginnings to become Charles’ mistress– the assumption being, I guess, that it’s okay to to be a ho if you have to…”
    The difference between Nell and Barbara is fascinating. Nell has become a bonafide English folk heroine, while Barbara is reviled. I agree that the economic background probably has much to do with it, but also because Nell was serially faithful — she never played around — and cheerfully unapologetic about her life, never fogetting or hiding her humble roots in a Covent Garden brothel.
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  79. Susan/Miranda still here, answering more:
    Bonnie Lass wrote: “When completing your research for this book, did you research it all and then write? Or did you research while you were writing it?”
    There’s different kinds of research behind most historical fiction. There’s the general getting-dates-and-major-events-right kind of research, and that gets done while I’m still working on the story. There’s the research that’s specific to the main characters, such as diaries, biographies, and other monographs, and that goes on while I write. Finally, there’s the background research, such as hairstyles, street names, and how long it takes to get from Greenwich to Whitehall, and that’s ongoing too, scene by scene.
    There’s also the occassional really swell historical fact that I stumble across late, and that gets inserted, oh, all the way during galley revisions *g* (but I’m not supposed to mention that.)
    Mary Jo wrote: “Powerful women have always been scurrilously attacked, and the sex card is played most often. (See Catherine the Great of Russia. And it’s still true today. Evidence abounds.)”
    Yes. There are far too many latter-day male historians who still toss the ol’ “nymphomaniac” slander at both Barbara and Catherine the Great. “She loved sex! She was insatiatable — crazy! She was a NYMPHO!” Oh, yeah….
    Janga — thank you so much for your praise! I love thinking of Barbara popping up on a college syllabus. *G* She’d be a nice counterpoint to all the doomed-for-passion heroines like Anna Karenina and Tess of the D’Urbervilles.
    Loretta — Ahh, Andrew Marvell ALWAYS says it better! *g*
    Barbara Monajem wrote: “Nell Gwyn has had much better press over the years than Barbara C., perhaps because Nell came from such humble beginnings to become Charles’ mistress– the assumption being, I guess, that it’s okay to to be a ho if you have to…”
    The difference between Nell and Barbara is fascinating. Nell has become a bonafide English folk heroine, while Barbara is reviled. I agree that the economic background probably has much to do with it, but also because Nell was serially faithful — she never played around — and cheerfully unapologetic about her life, never fogetting or hiding her humble roots in a Covent Garden brothel.
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  80. Susan/Miranda still here, answering more:
    Bonnie Lass wrote: “When completing your research for this book, did you research it all and then write? Or did you research while you were writing it?”
    There’s different kinds of research behind most historical fiction. There’s the general getting-dates-and-major-events-right kind of research, and that gets done while I’m still working on the story. There’s the research that’s specific to the main characters, such as diaries, biographies, and other monographs, and that goes on while I write. Finally, there’s the background research, such as hairstyles, street names, and how long it takes to get from Greenwich to Whitehall, and that’s ongoing too, scene by scene.
    There’s also the occassional really swell historical fact that I stumble across late, and that gets inserted, oh, all the way during galley revisions *g* (but I’m not supposed to mention that.)
    Mary Jo wrote: “Powerful women have always been scurrilously attacked, and the sex card is played most often. (See Catherine the Great of Russia. And it’s still true today. Evidence abounds.)”
    Yes. There are far too many latter-day male historians who still toss the ol’ “nymphomaniac” slander at both Barbara and Catherine the Great. “She loved sex! She was insatiatable — crazy! She was a NYMPHO!” Oh, yeah….
    Janga — thank you so much for your praise! I love thinking of Barbara popping up on a college syllabus. *G* She’d be a nice counterpoint to all the doomed-for-passion heroines like Anna Karenina and Tess of the D’Urbervilles.
    Loretta — Ahh, Andrew Marvell ALWAYS says it better! *g*
    Barbara Monajem wrote: “Nell Gwyn has had much better press over the years than Barbara C., perhaps because Nell came from such humble beginnings to become Charles’ mistress– the assumption being, I guess, that it’s okay to to be a ho if you have to…”
    The difference between Nell and Barbara is fascinating. Nell has become a bonafide English folk heroine, while Barbara is reviled. I agree that the economic background probably has much to do with it, but also because Nell was serially faithful — she never played around — and cheerfully unapologetic about her life, never fogetting or hiding her humble roots in a Covent Garden brothel.
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  81. Was Barbara Villiers descended from George Villiers, the first Duke of Buckingham? He of course made his way to the top as the lover of Charles II’s grandfather James I.
    If so, how many generations did it take to become respectable? Though royal favour and lots of money would always get you a certain measure of respect, I expect.
    Nell Gwynn started lower down than Barbara Villiers, but her surviving son got a dukedom too, and it survives to this day.

    Reply
  82. Was Barbara Villiers descended from George Villiers, the first Duke of Buckingham? He of course made his way to the top as the lover of Charles II’s grandfather James I.
    If so, how many generations did it take to become respectable? Though royal favour and lots of money would always get you a certain measure of respect, I expect.
    Nell Gwynn started lower down than Barbara Villiers, but her surviving son got a dukedom too, and it survives to this day.

    Reply
  83. Was Barbara Villiers descended from George Villiers, the first Duke of Buckingham? He of course made his way to the top as the lover of Charles II’s grandfather James I.
    If so, how many generations did it take to become respectable? Though royal favour and lots of money would always get you a certain measure of respect, I expect.
    Nell Gwynn started lower down than Barbara Villiers, but her surviving son got a dukedom too, and it survives to this day.

    Reply
  84. Was Barbara Villiers descended from George Villiers, the first Duke of Buckingham? He of course made his way to the top as the lover of Charles II’s grandfather James I.
    If so, how many generations did it take to become respectable? Though royal favour and lots of money would always get you a certain measure of respect, I expect.
    Nell Gwynn started lower down than Barbara Villiers, but her surviving son got a dukedom too, and it survives to this day.

    Reply
  85. Was Barbara Villiers descended from George Villiers, the first Duke of Buckingham? He of course made his way to the top as the lover of Charles II’s grandfather James I.
    If so, how many generations did it take to become respectable? Though royal favour and lots of money would always get you a certain measure of respect, I expect.
    Nell Gwynn started lower down than Barbara Villiers, but her surviving son got a dukedom too, and it survives to this day.

    Reply
  86. So maybe the key is honesty? Modern times, for example…would Clinton have been so reviled if he hadn’t lied, at first? If you’re completely honest about what and who you are…maybe that’s the ticket to historical praise. 😉 Then again…I’m sure plenty of villains were upfront and, well, praise wouldn’t be apropos.
    Really looking forward to the book – I loved _Duchess_. Unfortunately, this time around, I’ll have to wait for the library to have a copy available… 🙂

    Reply
  87. So maybe the key is honesty? Modern times, for example…would Clinton have been so reviled if he hadn’t lied, at first? If you’re completely honest about what and who you are…maybe that’s the ticket to historical praise. 😉 Then again…I’m sure plenty of villains were upfront and, well, praise wouldn’t be apropos.
    Really looking forward to the book – I loved _Duchess_. Unfortunately, this time around, I’ll have to wait for the library to have a copy available… 🙂

    Reply
  88. So maybe the key is honesty? Modern times, for example…would Clinton have been so reviled if he hadn’t lied, at first? If you’re completely honest about what and who you are…maybe that’s the ticket to historical praise. 😉 Then again…I’m sure plenty of villains were upfront and, well, praise wouldn’t be apropos.
    Really looking forward to the book – I loved _Duchess_. Unfortunately, this time around, I’ll have to wait for the library to have a copy available… 🙂

    Reply
  89. So maybe the key is honesty? Modern times, for example…would Clinton have been so reviled if he hadn’t lied, at first? If you’re completely honest about what and who you are…maybe that’s the ticket to historical praise. 😉 Then again…I’m sure plenty of villains were upfront and, well, praise wouldn’t be apropos.
    Really looking forward to the book – I loved _Duchess_. Unfortunately, this time around, I’ll have to wait for the library to have a copy available… 🙂

    Reply
  90. So maybe the key is honesty? Modern times, for example…would Clinton have been so reviled if he hadn’t lied, at first? If you’re completely honest about what and who you are…maybe that’s the ticket to historical praise. 😉 Then again…I’m sure plenty of villains were upfront and, well, praise wouldn’t be apropos.
    Really looking forward to the book – I loved _Duchess_. Unfortunately, this time around, I’ll have to wait for the library to have a copy available… 🙂

    Reply
  91. Susan/Miranda here again:
    Ingrid asked: “Was Barbara Villiers descended from George Villiers, the first Duke of Buckingham? He of course made his way to the top as the lover of Charles II’s grandfather James I?”
    The first Duke of Buckingham was Barbara’s uncle; her father was William Villiers, Viscount Grandison. They were known for their charm and beauty, and Barbara is supposed to have had the same remarkable shade of blue eyes (a “lubricious blue” in one description!) that the Duke apparently batted at James. The second Duke, Barbara’s cousin, was also another boon-companion of Charles II, and in the ever-shifting politics of the court, he and Barbara went back and forth between being allies and enemies.
    Though the Villiers were an “old” family, their higher titles and fortunes had all come through the favor of James I. Barbara’s mother’s family had been in the silk trade in the City, and though her grandfather had prospered enough to buy the title of Viscount Bayning and to make Barbara’s mother a fantastically rich heiress, the Villiers clan tended to look down on them as “nouveau.” I don’t know exactly how long it takes for “nouveau” to become “old family”; some families seemed to have made the jump with astounding ease in a generation or two.
    Certainly there was no stigma to adding the illegitimate offspring of the king to one’s family tree; the children of Barbara, Nell Gwyn, Louise de Kerouelle, and Lucy Waters all received titles, and married high into the aristocracy. Charles may not have sired an heir to the throne, but his blood flows pretty freely through much of the English peerage.
    Lise wrote: “If you’re completely honest about what and who you are…maybe that’s the ticket to historical praise.”
    You could be right, Lise, though it’s hard to tell exactly how one earns a lasting reputation through history.
    I’ve wondered if Nell has also fared better than Barbara because she was such a well-loved actress before she became the king’s mistress. She always played very appealing, light-hearted roles, and as is often the case with movie stars today, I wouldn’t be surprised if the public confused her engaging stage personna with her real personality. But that’s just a guess. 🙂

    Reply
  92. Susan/Miranda here again:
    Ingrid asked: “Was Barbara Villiers descended from George Villiers, the first Duke of Buckingham? He of course made his way to the top as the lover of Charles II’s grandfather James I?”
    The first Duke of Buckingham was Barbara’s uncle; her father was William Villiers, Viscount Grandison. They were known for their charm and beauty, and Barbara is supposed to have had the same remarkable shade of blue eyes (a “lubricious blue” in one description!) that the Duke apparently batted at James. The second Duke, Barbara’s cousin, was also another boon-companion of Charles II, and in the ever-shifting politics of the court, he and Barbara went back and forth between being allies and enemies.
    Though the Villiers were an “old” family, their higher titles and fortunes had all come through the favor of James I. Barbara’s mother’s family had been in the silk trade in the City, and though her grandfather had prospered enough to buy the title of Viscount Bayning and to make Barbara’s mother a fantastically rich heiress, the Villiers clan tended to look down on them as “nouveau.” I don’t know exactly how long it takes for “nouveau” to become “old family”; some families seemed to have made the jump with astounding ease in a generation or two.
    Certainly there was no stigma to adding the illegitimate offspring of the king to one’s family tree; the children of Barbara, Nell Gwyn, Louise de Kerouelle, and Lucy Waters all received titles, and married high into the aristocracy. Charles may not have sired an heir to the throne, but his blood flows pretty freely through much of the English peerage.
    Lise wrote: “If you’re completely honest about what and who you are…maybe that’s the ticket to historical praise.”
    You could be right, Lise, though it’s hard to tell exactly how one earns a lasting reputation through history.
    I’ve wondered if Nell has also fared better than Barbara because she was such a well-loved actress before she became the king’s mistress. She always played very appealing, light-hearted roles, and as is often the case with movie stars today, I wouldn’t be surprised if the public confused her engaging stage personna with her real personality. But that’s just a guess. 🙂

    Reply
  93. Susan/Miranda here again:
    Ingrid asked: “Was Barbara Villiers descended from George Villiers, the first Duke of Buckingham? He of course made his way to the top as the lover of Charles II’s grandfather James I?”
    The first Duke of Buckingham was Barbara’s uncle; her father was William Villiers, Viscount Grandison. They were known for their charm and beauty, and Barbara is supposed to have had the same remarkable shade of blue eyes (a “lubricious blue” in one description!) that the Duke apparently batted at James. The second Duke, Barbara’s cousin, was also another boon-companion of Charles II, and in the ever-shifting politics of the court, he and Barbara went back and forth between being allies and enemies.
    Though the Villiers were an “old” family, their higher titles and fortunes had all come through the favor of James I. Barbara’s mother’s family had been in the silk trade in the City, and though her grandfather had prospered enough to buy the title of Viscount Bayning and to make Barbara’s mother a fantastically rich heiress, the Villiers clan tended to look down on them as “nouveau.” I don’t know exactly how long it takes for “nouveau” to become “old family”; some families seemed to have made the jump with astounding ease in a generation or two.
    Certainly there was no stigma to adding the illegitimate offspring of the king to one’s family tree; the children of Barbara, Nell Gwyn, Louise de Kerouelle, and Lucy Waters all received titles, and married high into the aristocracy. Charles may not have sired an heir to the throne, but his blood flows pretty freely through much of the English peerage.
    Lise wrote: “If you’re completely honest about what and who you are…maybe that’s the ticket to historical praise.”
    You could be right, Lise, though it’s hard to tell exactly how one earns a lasting reputation through history.
    I’ve wondered if Nell has also fared better than Barbara because she was such a well-loved actress before she became the king’s mistress. She always played very appealing, light-hearted roles, and as is often the case with movie stars today, I wouldn’t be surprised if the public confused her engaging stage personna with her real personality. But that’s just a guess. 🙂

    Reply
  94. Susan/Miranda here again:
    Ingrid asked: “Was Barbara Villiers descended from George Villiers, the first Duke of Buckingham? He of course made his way to the top as the lover of Charles II’s grandfather James I?”
    The first Duke of Buckingham was Barbara’s uncle; her father was William Villiers, Viscount Grandison. They were known for their charm and beauty, and Barbara is supposed to have had the same remarkable shade of blue eyes (a “lubricious blue” in one description!) that the Duke apparently batted at James. The second Duke, Barbara’s cousin, was also another boon-companion of Charles II, and in the ever-shifting politics of the court, he and Barbara went back and forth between being allies and enemies.
    Though the Villiers were an “old” family, their higher titles and fortunes had all come through the favor of James I. Barbara’s mother’s family had been in the silk trade in the City, and though her grandfather had prospered enough to buy the title of Viscount Bayning and to make Barbara’s mother a fantastically rich heiress, the Villiers clan tended to look down on them as “nouveau.” I don’t know exactly how long it takes for “nouveau” to become “old family”; some families seemed to have made the jump with astounding ease in a generation or two.
    Certainly there was no stigma to adding the illegitimate offspring of the king to one’s family tree; the children of Barbara, Nell Gwyn, Louise de Kerouelle, and Lucy Waters all received titles, and married high into the aristocracy. Charles may not have sired an heir to the throne, but his blood flows pretty freely through much of the English peerage.
    Lise wrote: “If you’re completely honest about what and who you are…maybe that’s the ticket to historical praise.”
    You could be right, Lise, though it’s hard to tell exactly how one earns a lasting reputation through history.
    I’ve wondered if Nell has also fared better than Barbara because she was such a well-loved actress before she became the king’s mistress. She always played very appealing, light-hearted roles, and as is often the case with movie stars today, I wouldn’t be surprised if the public confused her engaging stage personna with her real personality. But that’s just a guess. 🙂

    Reply
  95. Susan/Miranda here again:
    Ingrid asked: “Was Barbara Villiers descended from George Villiers, the first Duke of Buckingham? He of course made his way to the top as the lover of Charles II’s grandfather James I?”
    The first Duke of Buckingham was Barbara’s uncle; her father was William Villiers, Viscount Grandison. They were known for their charm and beauty, and Barbara is supposed to have had the same remarkable shade of blue eyes (a “lubricious blue” in one description!) that the Duke apparently batted at James. The second Duke, Barbara’s cousin, was also another boon-companion of Charles II, and in the ever-shifting politics of the court, he and Barbara went back and forth between being allies and enemies.
    Though the Villiers were an “old” family, their higher titles and fortunes had all come through the favor of James I. Barbara’s mother’s family had been in the silk trade in the City, and though her grandfather had prospered enough to buy the title of Viscount Bayning and to make Barbara’s mother a fantastically rich heiress, the Villiers clan tended to look down on them as “nouveau.” I don’t know exactly how long it takes for “nouveau” to become “old family”; some families seemed to have made the jump with astounding ease in a generation or two.
    Certainly there was no stigma to adding the illegitimate offspring of the king to one’s family tree; the children of Barbara, Nell Gwyn, Louise de Kerouelle, and Lucy Waters all received titles, and married high into the aristocracy. Charles may not have sired an heir to the throne, but his blood flows pretty freely through much of the English peerage.
    Lise wrote: “If you’re completely honest about what and who you are…maybe that’s the ticket to historical praise.”
    You could be right, Lise, though it’s hard to tell exactly how one earns a lasting reputation through history.
    I’ve wondered if Nell has also fared better than Barbara because she was such a well-loved actress before she became the king’s mistress. She always played very appealing, light-hearted roles, and as is often the case with movie stars today, I wouldn’t be surprised if the public confused her engaging stage personna with her real personality. But that’s just a guess. 🙂

    Reply
  96. I can’t wait to start this! I managed to snap a signed copy for my friend in Dallas, and I just bought my own copy. I’m saving it for the loooong flight to New Zealand next month. *grin*
    I’ve always been fascinated with the machinations of Charles II’s court and mistresses.

    Reply
  97. I can’t wait to start this! I managed to snap a signed copy for my friend in Dallas, and I just bought my own copy. I’m saving it for the loooong flight to New Zealand next month. *grin*
    I’ve always been fascinated with the machinations of Charles II’s court and mistresses.

    Reply
  98. I can’t wait to start this! I managed to snap a signed copy for my friend in Dallas, and I just bought my own copy. I’m saving it for the loooong flight to New Zealand next month. *grin*
    I’ve always been fascinated with the machinations of Charles II’s court and mistresses.

    Reply
  99. I can’t wait to start this! I managed to snap a signed copy for my friend in Dallas, and I just bought my own copy. I’m saving it for the loooong flight to New Zealand next month. *grin*
    I’ve always been fascinated with the machinations of Charles II’s court and mistresses.

    Reply
  100. I can’t wait to start this! I managed to snap a signed copy for my friend in Dallas, and I just bought my own copy. I’m saving it for the loooong flight to New Zealand next month. *grin*
    I’ve always been fascinated with the machinations of Charles II’s court and mistresses.

    Reply
  101. >>> she’d be wearing a T-shirt that says WELL-BEHAVED WOMEN SELDOM MAKE HISTORY. :)>>
    I want that t-shirt! 🙂
    Nina

    Reply
  102. >>> she’d be wearing a T-shirt that says WELL-BEHAVED WOMEN SELDOM MAKE HISTORY. :)>>
    I want that t-shirt! 🙂
    Nina

    Reply
  103. >>> she’d be wearing a T-shirt that says WELL-BEHAVED WOMEN SELDOM MAKE HISTORY. :)>>
    I want that t-shirt! 🙂
    Nina

    Reply
  104. >>> she’d be wearing a T-shirt that says WELL-BEHAVED WOMEN SELDOM MAKE HISTORY. :)>>
    I want that t-shirt! 🙂
    Nina

    Reply
  105. >>> she’d be wearing a T-shirt that says WELL-BEHAVED WOMEN SELDOM MAKE HISTORY. :)>>
    I want that t-shirt! 🙂
    Nina

    Reply
  106. Kalen — so glad you got your copy in Dallas! I hope Barbara & Charles will provide excellent company on a long flight.
    Nina wrote:”she’d be wearing a T-shirt that says WELL-BEHAVED WOMEN SELDOM MAKE HISTORY.
    I want that t-shirt! :-)”
    Personally, I’m waiting for the Lely limited-edition in yellow silk satin.*g*
    I’m reminded of a bumper sticker that writer Anne Stuart had printed a few years ago, with a similar sentiment: “Uppitty Women Unite!”
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  107. Kalen — so glad you got your copy in Dallas! I hope Barbara & Charles will provide excellent company on a long flight.
    Nina wrote:”she’d be wearing a T-shirt that says WELL-BEHAVED WOMEN SELDOM MAKE HISTORY.
    I want that t-shirt! :-)”
    Personally, I’m waiting for the Lely limited-edition in yellow silk satin.*g*
    I’m reminded of a bumper sticker that writer Anne Stuart had printed a few years ago, with a similar sentiment: “Uppitty Women Unite!”
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  108. Kalen — so glad you got your copy in Dallas! I hope Barbara & Charles will provide excellent company on a long flight.
    Nina wrote:”she’d be wearing a T-shirt that says WELL-BEHAVED WOMEN SELDOM MAKE HISTORY.
    I want that t-shirt! :-)”
    Personally, I’m waiting for the Lely limited-edition in yellow silk satin.*g*
    I’m reminded of a bumper sticker that writer Anne Stuart had printed a few years ago, with a similar sentiment: “Uppitty Women Unite!”
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  109. Kalen — so glad you got your copy in Dallas! I hope Barbara & Charles will provide excellent company on a long flight.
    Nina wrote:”she’d be wearing a T-shirt that says WELL-BEHAVED WOMEN SELDOM MAKE HISTORY.
    I want that t-shirt! :-)”
    Personally, I’m waiting for the Lely limited-edition in yellow silk satin.*g*
    I’m reminded of a bumper sticker that writer Anne Stuart had printed a few years ago, with a similar sentiment: “Uppitty Women Unite!”
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  110. Kalen — so glad you got your copy in Dallas! I hope Barbara & Charles will provide excellent company on a long flight.
    Nina wrote:”she’d be wearing a T-shirt that says WELL-BEHAVED WOMEN SELDOM MAKE HISTORY.
    I want that t-shirt! :-)”
    Personally, I’m waiting for the Lely limited-edition in yellow silk satin.*g*
    I’m reminded of a bumper sticker that writer Anne Stuart had printed a few years ago, with a similar sentiment: “Uppitty Women Unite!”
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply

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