When Minor Characters Come to Life . . .

SussexAndrea here, juggling a multitude of pressing deadlines, and so invoking the Wenchly privilege of posting an oldie but goodie blog from the past. It seemed worthy of repeat, given all the controversy concerning the current Duke of Sussex. So without further ado . . .

I'm musing today on minor characters in a story, and how they can surprise you. Take, for example, my Wrexford & Sloane mystery, Murder at Kensington Palace. In doing research for the book, I had come across a paragraph or two that mentioned scientific soirees were occasionally held at Kensington Palace during the Regency because King George III’s sixth son (and ninth child), Prince Augustus Frederick, lived in one of the state apartments and was very interested in science.

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When Minor Characters Come to Life . . .

SussexAndrea here, musing today on minor characters in a story, and how they can surprise you. Take, for example, my just-released mystery, Murder at Kensington Palace. In doing research for the book, I had come across a paragraph or two that mentioned scientific soirees were occasionally held at Kensington Palace during the Regency because King George III’s sixth son (and ninth child), Prince Augustus Frederick, lived in one of the state apartments and was very interested in science.

Prince_Augustus_in_1782Aha! I think—it’s the perfect place for my opening scene! So, I make a note of it, doubly happy because I now have a great title for the book. When it comes down to writing the scene, I shuffle through all my notes and photos from my visit to the palace, as well as research I’ve done on the real-life scientific scholars who might have attended, as I have fun putting a few small cameos of actual people interacting with my fictional characters. And course, I remind myself to made a very brief mention of Prince Augustus Frederick—or the Duke of Sussex, the title he was granted by his father in 1801.

Naturally, I imagine this will only take a minute down rabbit hole. I only intend to have him walk by, and then have a few other people comment on some of his habits to make him a little individuality . . . However, I ended up being really surprised by what an interesting man he was. I had always thought of George III’s sons as a rather undistinguished lot (if not downright dislikable fellows.) And for me, Augustus Frederick was sort of lost in the shuffle of the 15 children.

 

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Princess Power!

CarolineAnspach-JervasAndrea/Cara here. I recently saw a fascinating museum exhibit entitled “Enlightened Princesses: Caroline, Augusta, Charlotte and the Shaping of the Modern World.” These three German princesses—Caroline of Ansbach, Augusta of Saxe-Gotha and Charlotte of Mecklenberg-Strelitz—all married into the British royal family and each had a profound influence on their adopted country. Needless to say, I came away enlightened!

According to Amy Meyers, Director of the Yale Center for British Art and the organizing curator, “The princesses had sweeping intellectual, social, cultural, and political interests, which helped to shape the courts in which they lived, and encouraged the era’s greatest philosophers, scientists, artists, and architects to develop important ideas that would guide ensuing generations. The palaces and royal gardens they inhabited served as incubators for enlightened conversation and experimentation, and functioned as platforms to project the latest cultural developments to an international audience.”

George+Augustus+of+Hanover+&+Caroline+of+AnsbachOf the three, I was most familiar with Caroline of Ansbach. Orphaned at age eleven, she went live with Friederich III, Elector of Brandenberg, and the first King of Prussia. A highly intelligent and attractive woman, she thrived in Freiderich’s open-minded court, where she became friends with Gottfried Leibnitz, one of the leading intellectual giants of the 18th century. She then married George Augustus of Hanover, and when his father acceded to the British throne as George I on the death of Queen Anne, the young couple followed him to London as the Prince and Princess of Wales.

Caro-of-AnspachCaroline was very involved in politics—she and her husband were often at loggerheads with George I, and for a time they were under house arrest and forbidden to see their children, Later, she served as Regent several times during her husband’s reign George II, when he made prolonged visits to Germany. But it was as a leader in shaping the culture of her court and the country for which she has earned high accolades from historians. Lucy Wortley called her  “the cleverest queen consort ever to sit on the throne of England.”

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