Whither Bagnigge Wells

Royalharlotfront_cover By Susan/Miranda

As each of us Wenches have noted here, writing novels set in the past presents its own special challenges.  One of the hardest parts is determining exactly how much history you want or need to support your story, and then how much of your “writing time”  to invest in research to support that history.  Of course this varies from writer to writer, and from book to book, with results that vary from the most mundane “wallpaper history”, set in the indeterminate past where everyone has big houses and wears silk, to more thoughtful books with enough factual background to please a good university press.

I’m a self-proclaimed history nerd.  I love history, and I love research, and I’m perfectly happy to wallow in original sources all the day long.  This is much of the reason that I’ve shifted my writing from historical romance to historical fiction, where the characters are almost entirely based on historical figures and the plot is driven by fact.  For me, that’s more-better-funner writing, about as good as a job can get. But all that lovely research can also become as sticky as the LaBrea Tar Pits, and suck up my time like so many wallowing mastodons. 

Which is exactly what happened to me with Bagnigge Wells.

I know this sounds like I’m writing a Nancy Drew mystery (The Secret of the Bagnigge Wells).  Actually, my WIP is a historical novel based on the life and times of 17th century actress and royal mistress Nell Gwyn (The King’s Favorite: A Novel of Nell Gwyn & King Charles II).  Most of the book takes place in London, and a well-documented 17th century London at that, thanks to the writings of diarists Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn, and a surprisingly large number of other surviving letters and journals.

There are many writers fortunate enough to be able to travel to the places their books are set, and beGreat_fire_of_london able to walk literally in the characters’ footsteps.  Alas, I’m not one of them; I have two college-age children, and that puts a damper on research junkets to England.  And, as I’ve also realized, many of the places I’d want to see no longer exist.  Not only did the Great Fire of 1666 destroy much of Nell’s London, but another fire, later in the 17th century, claimed most of Charles’s Whitehall Palace, too.  What remained of Restoration London has since been absorbed, knocked down, remodeled, bombed, renewed, and rebuilt by successive generations. I’ve no choice but to rely on the descriptions of others to create my interpretation of the past.

But back to Bagnigge Wells.  In book after book about Nell, there are references made to her “summer house” on the Fleet, a bucolic retreat where she and Charles often went to swim, fish, and generally make mischief away from the court.  I liked this, and I worked it into the story as the book evolved.  I wrote along with some of those big **** in the middle of the scene, astrisks that mean Notes to Self, and are my way of saying, “come back here and put in more when you’ve researched it.” 

Nell_with_blue_cloak_fixed So with my scene more or less written, I went back to fill in the blanks regarding Bagnigge Wells.  Hah.  To begin with, I found no mention of the place in my standard 17th diaries, journals, or references books.  I figured it had to be within a day’s journey by water of the palace, but I couldn’t find it anywhere on any map, old or new.  In fact, to my chagrin, I realized that the earliest mention of the place in connection with Nell was in a book published in 1878 (Old and New London by Walter Thornbury), which had been repeated as gospel in every successive book about Nell.  Here’s the passage, in all its high Victorian splendor:

“Bagnigge Wells House was originally the summer residence of Nell Gwyn.  Here, upon the Fleet and amid green fields, she entertained Charles and his saturnine brother with concerts and merry breakfasts, in the careless Bohemian way in which that noble specimen of divine right delighted.”

I probably should have tossed the whole scene then and there.  Relying on the word of a historian writingCharles_in_ermine_2 more than two centuries after the fact isn’t generally a good idea.  But the summer house on the Fleet was certainly plausible, and entirely probable, and besides, I liked the scene, and I didn’t want to give it up.  It worked.  And I just liked the word "Bagnigge", however it may be pronounced (anyone know for certain?)

And so back I went a-hunting.

What did I learn?  That the reason I couldn’t find Bagnigge Wells on any map is that it no longer exists.  For that matter, neither does the Fleet.  The River Fleet was once one of the major rivers of London, running from its origins on Hampstead Heath, through Kings Cross and Clerkenwell, until it finally emptied into the Thames near Blackfriars.

Bagnigge Wells was located on the Fleet near St. Pancras.  The site of two wells known for their healing properties, it may also have been the location of an earlier, abandoned religious order.  In Nell’s time, the area was still surrounded by open fields, with only a single public-house (The Pindar of Wakefield) as a landmark, and the river was clear and clean, yet easily traveled back into the heart of London.  It was also considered a place with strong royalist tendencies, filled with Charles’s supporters.  In other words, the perfect place to escape the 17th century version of the paparazzi. 

Bagniggebreadbutter But as for those “telling details” that writers so cherish: nothing.  Not a peep.  Everything dealt with Bagnigge Wells in the 18th century, when the healing wells were developed, and the spot became fashionable with the “middling sort”, who came to take the waters, flirt, and play skittles.  (To the left is a genre print of "The Bread and Buttery at Bagnigge") But by the early 19th century, the Wells were described as a ruin, with urban sprawl relentlessly approaching.  Only the old Pindar had managed to continue the connection with Nell, with a chimney piece that featured the royal arms and a portrait-bust labeled “Eleanor Gwynne, a favorite of Charles II.)

The once-sparkling Fleet had become little better than an open sewer, and by the end of the 18th century, was completely arched over and built upon.  The springs, too, vanished, and all that remains today are two streets in the area: Gwynne Place and Wells Street. (For more information, check out The River of Wells.)

I figure I spent the better part of a morning to learn all of this cool stuff, none of which was really of any use to me.  In other words, if I wanted to put Nell and Charles at Bagnigge, I’d have to do so without specifics, and to rely more on my imagination than any hard fact.   So this, then, is the sum of how Bagnigge Wells is described:

   “I vow you can’t catch me, sir,” I taunted, raising my head from the river’s surface only enough so my lips would clear it.  “Hey, ho, can’t catch me!”
    I gulped as big a breath as I could and plunged deep into the water, swimming low so Charles wouldn’t spy me.  Finally my lungs were burning and I could keep under no longer, and I popped up with a splatter, gasping.  Swiftly I looked about me for Charles, shoving aside my tangled hair that clung to my face and breasts like duckweed. 
    All around me was still: the green riverbed, the willows trailing their feathery branches into the water, the few ducks already nesting for the night in the tall grass, their heads tucked demurely beneath their wings.  The days were shorter now, making the sky that velvety blue that comes before true dusk, with stars just beginning to spark.  The evening mist floated low over the fields beyond the river, softening the horizon.  I could hear the first nightingale’s song over the rush of the water, and louder still the racing of my own heart.  Our clothes lay where we’d left them on the grass, untidy piles of pale linen, and on top of Charles’s lay two of his piebald spaniels, curled contentedly, I suppose, in his scent.  Not far beyond lay the shadowy shape of the house I’d hired for our use for the summer. . . .

That’s it.  Was a morning of research to prove I’d have no hard facts worth that paragraph?  Was this time I could ever justify well spent to my editor (if I ever had to do so, which, fortunately, writers seldom are called to do)?  Or was that morning among my research books more a general refilling of my writerly imagination, whether it generated anything immediately useful?  Could it just be chalked up to…fun?

Whether this works (or whither the Wells) remains to be seen, at least until next summer, when The King’s Favorite will be released.  But here’s a question for now: do you think you can tell when a writer has enjoyed writing a book?  Can you sense if the book was a joy, or a trial?  Have you ever read books that in some intangible way felt as if the writer had written under pressure (health, family, financial, or simply an idea that had ceased to be magical), or one that felt so right that the words must have flown from the keyboard?

90 thoughts on “Whither Bagnigge Wells”

  1. I can only presume when I read something with a smile on my face and reluctance to put it down that the author must have felt the same. I find in my own writing when I’m “flying”, writing is effortless, almost thoughtless—and when I go back I can’t even remember the passages. It’s like reading a stranger’s work (oooh, I’d better watch out for multiple personality disorder). When I’m not inspired, the clunkiness sure shows. It is such a joy to read books that are not workmanlike, and sometimes they seem all too rare.
    I know I fall out of love with my writing/characters/plot, and it seems so much more fun to start something new. I think this is the sagging middle Pat addressed. I know I’m not alone!

    Reply
  2. I can only presume when I read something with a smile on my face and reluctance to put it down that the author must have felt the same. I find in my own writing when I’m “flying”, writing is effortless, almost thoughtless—and when I go back I can’t even remember the passages. It’s like reading a stranger’s work (oooh, I’d better watch out for multiple personality disorder). When I’m not inspired, the clunkiness sure shows. It is such a joy to read books that are not workmanlike, and sometimes they seem all too rare.
    I know I fall out of love with my writing/characters/plot, and it seems so much more fun to start something new. I think this is the sagging middle Pat addressed. I know I’m not alone!

    Reply
  3. I can only presume when I read something with a smile on my face and reluctance to put it down that the author must have felt the same. I find in my own writing when I’m “flying”, writing is effortless, almost thoughtless—and when I go back I can’t even remember the passages. It’s like reading a stranger’s work (oooh, I’d better watch out for multiple personality disorder). When I’m not inspired, the clunkiness sure shows. It is such a joy to read books that are not workmanlike, and sometimes they seem all too rare.
    I know I fall out of love with my writing/characters/plot, and it seems so much more fun to start something new. I think this is the sagging middle Pat addressed. I know I’m not alone!

    Reply
  4. I can only presume when I read something with a smile on my face and reluctance to put it down that the author must have felt the same. I find in my own writing when I’m “flying”, writing is effortless, almost thoughtless—and when I go back I can’t even remember the passages. It’s like reading a stranger’s work (oooh, I’d better watch out for multiple personality disorder). When I’m not inspired, the clunkiness sure shows. It is such a joy to read books that are not workmanlike, and sometimes they seem all too rare.
    I know I fall out of love with my writing/characters/plot, and it seems so much more fun to start something new. I think this is the sagging middle Pat addressed. I know I’m not alone!

    Reply
  5. I can only presume when I read something with a smile on my face and reluctance to put it down that the author must have felt the same. I find in my own writing when I’m “flying”, writing is effortless, almost thoughtless—and when I go back I can’t even remember the passages. It’s like reading a stranger’s work (oooh, I’d better watch out for multiple personality disorder). When I’m not inspired, the clunkiness sure shows. It is such a joy to read books that are not workmanlike, and sometimes they seem all too rare.
    I know I fall out of love with my writing/characters/plot, and it seems so much more fun to start something new. I think this is the sagging middle Pat addressed. I know I’m not alone!

    Reply
  6. The research that goes into a book isn’t always apparent on the page. Unless you happen to know something about the subject and spot that it is wrong. There was a joyous reading moment for me recently where the characters visited my home town. The descriptions were so vague it could have been anywhere though.
    So, if any of the wenches need information about Faversham, Kent, UK (on the route from London to Dover for those hurried escapes to the continent) do let me know! Unlike Bagnigge Wells it is ridiculously well documented.

    Reply
  7. The research that goes into a book isn’t always apparent on the page. Unless you happen to know something about the subject and spot that it is wrong. There was a joyous reading moment for me recently where the characters visited my home town. The descriptions were so vague it could have been anywhere though.
    So, if any of the wenches need information about Faversham, Kent, UK (on the route from London to Dover for those hurried escapes to the continent) do let me know! Unlike Bagnigge Wells it is ridiculously well documented.

    Reply
  8. The research that goes into a book isn’t always apparent on the page. Unless you happen to know something about the subject and spot that it is wrong. There was a joyous reading moment for me recently where the characters visited my home town. The descriptions were so vague it could have been anywhere though.
    So, if any of the wenches need information about Faversham, Kent, UK (on the route from London to Dover for those hurried escapes to the continent) do let me know! Unlike Bagnigge Wells it is ridiculously well documented.

    Reply
  9. The research that goes into a book isn’t always apparent on the page. Unless you happen to know something about the subject and spot that it is wrong. There was a joyous reading moment for me recently where the characters visited my home town. The descriptions were so vague it could have been anywhere though.
    So, if any of the wenches need information about Faversham, Kent, UK (on the route from London to Dover for those hurried escapes to the continent) do let me know! Unlike Bagnigge Wells it is ridiculously well documented.

    Reply
  10. The research that goes into a book isn’t always apparent on the page. Unless you happen to know something about the subject and spot that it is wrong. There was a joyous reading moment for me recently where the characters visited my home town. The descriptions were so vague it could have been anywhere though.
    So, if any of the wenches need information about Faversham, Kent, UK (on the route from London to Dover for those hurried escapes to the continent) do let me know! Unlike Bagnigge Wells it is ridiculously well documented.

    Reply
  11. I think that you can always tell when a novel is a labor of love, and when it’s a chore done to fulfill a contract, or when the writer was told vampire novels are selling like hotcakes. Every writer puts his or her soul into a book, and if’s not on the page, then it wasn’t in the heart.
    I too am a history nerd, and I loved reading about your research travails. I think it was worth it totally, even if you ended having to use more of your imagination then you imagined. And I’d also read that Nell and Charles had a little weekend getaway house. Susan/Miranda, did you read Charles Beauclerk’s biography of his ancestor Nell Gwynn when you were researching the novel?

    Reply
  12. I think that you can always tell when a novel is a labor of love, and when it’s a chore done to fulfill a contract, or when the writer was told vampire novels are selling like hotcakes. Every writer puts his or her soul into a book, and if’s not on the page, then it wasn’t in the heart.
    I too am a history nerd, and I loved reading about your research travails. I think it was worth it totally, even if you ended having to use more of your imagination then you imagined. And I’d also read that Nell and Charles had a little weekend getaway house. Susan/Miranda, did you read Charles Beauclerk’s biography of his ancestor Nell Gwynn when you were researching the novel?

    Reply
  13. I think that you can always tell when a novel is a labor of love, and when it’s a chore done to fulfill a contract, or when the writer was told vampire novels are selling like hotcakes. Every writer puts his or her soul into a book, and if’s not on the page, then it wasn’t in the heart.
    I too am a history nerd, and I loved reading about your research travails. I think it was worth it totally, even if you ended having to use more of your imagination then you imagined. And I’d also read that Nell and Charles had a little weekend getaway house. Susan/Miranda, did you read Charles Beauclerk’s biography of his ancestor Nell Gwynn when you were researching the novel?

    Reply
  14. I think that you can always tell when a novel is a labor of love, and when it’s a chore done to fulfill a contract, or when the writer was told vampire novels are selling like hotcakes. Every writer puts his or her soul into a book, and if’s not on the page, then it wasn’t in the heart.
    I too am a history nerd, and I loved reading about your research travails. I think it was worth it totally, even if you ended having to use more of your imagination then you imagined. And I’d also read that Nell and Charles had a little weekend getaway house. Susan/Miranda, did you read Charles Beauclerk’s biography of his ancestor Nell Gwynn when you were researching the novel?

    Reply
  15. I think that you can always tell when a novel is a labor of love, and when it’s a chore done to fulfill a contract, or when the writer was told vampire novels are selling like hotcakes. Every writer puts his or her soul into a book, and if’s not on the page, then it wasn’t in the heart.
    I too am a history nerd, and I loved reading about your research travails. I think it was worth it totally, even if you ended having to use more of your imagination then you imagined. And I’d also read that Nell and Charles had a little weekend getaway house. Susan/Miranda, did you read Charles Beauclerk’s biography of his ancestor Nell Gwynn when you were researching the novel?

    Reply
  16. Maggie,
    I know exactly what you mean — when the words are coming, then it’s almost as if someone (or thing, to be muse-inclusive*g*) is whispering the right words in your ear. On those lucky days, it feels as if everything is golden, nothing needs rewriting, and hey, I can write twelve books a year!
    As for the other kinds of writing days….well, the less said, the better.
    But it’s interesting how sometimes it’s very hard to tell the “under duress” books from the “flying fingers” books. Sometimes I’ll read one that seems particularly golden, only to learn later that the author was working her way through a difficult divorce at the same time. Maybe that’s the way the muses even up the cosmic score.
    But when the inspiration’s definitely not there — those are, alas, often all too easy to spot.
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  17. Maggie,
    I know exactly what you mean — when the words are coming, then it’s almost as if someone (or thing, to be muse-inclusive*g*) is whispering the right words in your ear. On those lucky days, it feels as if everything is golden, nothing needs rewriting, and hey, I can write twelve books a year!
    As for the other kinds of writing days….well, the less said, the better.
    But it’s interesting how sometimes it’s very hard to tell the “under duress” books from the “flying fingers” books. Sometimes I’ll read one that seems particularly golden, only to learn later that the author was working her way through a difficult divorce at the same time. Maybe that’s the way the muses even up the cosmic score.
    But when the inspiration’s definitely not there — those are, alas, often all too easy to spot.
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  18. Maggie,
    I know exactly what you mean — when the words are coming, then it’s almost as if someone (or thing, to be muse-inclusive*g*) is whispering the right words in your ear. On those lucky days, it feels as if everything is golden, nothing needs rewriting, and hey, I can write twelve books a year!
    As for the other kinds of writing days….well, the less said, the better.
    But it’s interesting how sometimes it’s very hard to tell the “under duress” books from the “flying fingers” books. Sometimes I’ll read one that seems particularly golden, only to learn later that the author was working her way through a difficult divorce at the same time. Maybe that’s the way the muses even up the cosmic score.
    But when the inspiration’s definitely not there — those are, alas, often all too easy to spot.
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  19. Maggie,
    I know exactly what you mean — when the words are coming, then it’s almost as if someone (or thing, to be muse-inclusive*g*) is whispering the right words in your ear. On those lucky days, it feels as if everything is golden, nothing needs rewriting, and hey, I can write twelve books a year!
    As for the other kinds of writing days….well, the less said, the better.
    But it’s interesting how sometimes it’s very hard to tell the “under duress” books from the “flying fingers” books. Sometimes I’ll read one that seems particularly golden, only to learn later that the author was working her way through a difficult divorce at the same time. Maybe that’s the way the muses even up the cosmic score.
    But when the inspiration’s definitely not there — those are, alas, often all too easy to spot.
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  20. Maggie,
    I know exactly what you mean — when the words are coming, then it’s almost as if someone (or thing, to be muse-inclusive*g*) is whispering the right words in your ear. On those lucky days, it feels as if everything is golden, nothing needs rewriting, and hey, I can write twelve books a year!
    As for the other kinds of writing days….well, the less said, the better.
    But it’s interesting how sometimes it’s very hard to tell the “under duress” books from the “flying fingers” books. Sometimes I’ll read one that seems particularly golden, only to learn later that the author was working her way through a difficult divorce at the same time. Maybe that’s the way the muses even up the cosmic score.
    But when the inspiration’s definitely not there — those are, alas, often all too easy to spot.
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  21. Francois,
    I’m glad to hear that the mention of your home-town was an accurate one. So often outsiders inadvertently make horrible mistakes that no “native” ever would. I’m always living in research-terror of mentioning a church two hundred years before it was built, or making a river run between the wrong towns. Research can be a minefield!
    Francois wrote:”So, if any of the wenches need information about Faversham, Kent, UK (on the route from London to Dover for those hurried escapes to the continent) do let me know!”
    What a kind offer, Francois — I only hope you’re not inundated with questions now.:)
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  22. Francois,
    I’m glad to hear that the mention of your home-town was an accurate one. So often outsiders inadvertently make horrible mistakes that no “native” ever would. I’m always living in research-terror of mentioning a church two hundred years before it was built, or making a river run between the wrong towns. Research can be a minefield!
    Francois wrote:”So, if any of the wenches need information about Faversham, Kent, UK (on the route from London to Dover for those hurried escapes to the continent) do let me know!”
    What a kind offer, Francois — I only hope you’re not inundated with questions now.:)
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  23. Francois,
    I’m glad to hear that the mention of your home-town was an accurate one. So often outsiders inadvertently make horrible mistakes that no “native” ever would. I’m always living in research-terror of mentioning a church two hundred years before it was built, or making a river run between the wrong towns. Research can be a minefield!
    Francois wrote:”So, if any of the wenches need information about Faversham, Kent, UK (on the route from London to Dover for those hurried escapes to the continent) do let me know!”
    What a kind offer, Francois — I only hope you’re not inundated with questions now.:)
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  24. Francois,
    I’m glad to hear that the mention of your home-town was an accurate one. So often outsiders inadvertently make horrible mistakes that no “native” ever would. I’m always living in research-terror of mentioning a church two hundred years before it was built, or making a river run between the wrong towns. Research can be a minefield!
    Francois wrote:”So, if any of the wenches need information about Faversham, Kent, UK (on the route from London to Dover for those hurried escapes to the continent) do let me know!”
    What a kind offer, Francois — I only hope you’re not inundated with questions now.:)
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  25. Francois,
    I’m glad to hear that the mention of your home-town was an accurate one. So often outsiders inadvertently make horrible mistakes that no “native” ever would. I’m always living in research-terror of mentioning a church two hundred years before it was built, or making a river run between the wrong towns. Research can be a minefield!
    Francois wrote:”So, if any of the wenches need information about Faversham, Kent, UK (on the route from London to Dover for those hurried escapes to the continent) do let me know!”
    What a kind offer, Francois — I only hope you’re not inundated with questions now.:)
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  26. What a wonderful, evocative excerpt! You may not have been able to find details, but there’s a lovely sense of place in that scene. I too often put ***** when I don’t have the research details for a particular scene in a first draft. Back when I was co-writing with my mom, we had a problem similar to your Bagnigge Wells problem with the village of Freneda, which Wellington made his headquaters in the winter of 1812/1813 during the Peninsular War. We couldn’t find any description of it in letters, journals, history books. The best description we could find came from Georgette Heyer’s “The Spanish Bride” (Heyer’s research is impeccable , but with a description in a novel you’re never sure where the facts leave off and the writer’s imagination comes into play). In the end we played up the few details we had, making them as vivid as possible, and I think the scene turned out okay. And I agree, sometimes hours spent researching can be a chance for your subconscious to work on the book–not to mentin sheer fun!

    Reply
  27. What a wonderful, evocative excerpt! You may not have been able to find details, but there’s a lovely sense of place in that scene. I too often put ***** when I don’t have the research details for a particular scene in a first draft. Back when I was co-writing with my mom, we had a problem similar to your Bagnigge Wells problem with the village of Freneda, which Wellington made his headquaters in the winter of 1812/1813 during the Peninsular War. We couldn’t find any description of it in letters, journals, history books. The best description we could find came from Georgette Heyer’s “The Spanish Bride” (Heyer’s research is impeccable , but with a description in a novel you’re never sure where the facts leave off and the writer’s imagination comes into play). In the end we played up the few details we had, making them as vivid as possible, and I think the scene turned out okay. And I agree, sometimes hours spent researching can be a chance for your subconscious to work on the book–not to mentin sheer fun!

    Reply
  28. What a wonderful, evocative excerpt! You may not have been able to find details, but there’s a lovely sense of place in that scene. I too often put ***** when I don’t have the research details for a particular scene in a first draft. Back when I was co-writing with my mom, we had a problem similar to your Bagnigge Wells problem with the village of Freneda, which Wellington made his headquaters in the winter of 1812/1813 during the Peninsular War. We couldn’t find any description of it in letters, journals, history books. The best description we could find came from Georgette Heyer’s “The Spanish Bride” (Heyer’s research is impeccable , but with a description in a novel you’re never sure where the facts leave off and the writer’s imagination comes into play). In the end we played up the few details we had, making them as vivid as possible, and I think the scene turned out okay. And I agree, sometimes hours spent researching can be a chance for your subconscious to work on the book–not to mentin sheer fun!

    Reply
  29. What a wonderful, evocative excerpt! You may not have been able to find details, but there’s a lovely sense of place in that scene. I too often put ***** when I don’t have the research details for a particular scene in a first draft. Back when I was co-writing with my mom, we had a problem similar to your Bagnigge Wells problem with the village of Freneda, which Wellington made his headquaters in the winter of 1812/1813 during the Peninsular War. We couldn’t find any description of it in letters, journals, history books. The best description we could find came from Georgette Heyer’s “The Spanish Bride” (Heyer’s research is impeccable , but with a description in a novel you’re never sure where the facts leave off and the writer’s imagination comes into play). In the end we played up the few details we had, making them as vivid as possible, and I think the scene turned out okay. And I agree, sometimes hours spent researching can be a chance for your subconscious to work on the book–not to mentin sheer fun!

    Reply
  30. What a wonderful, evocative excerpt! You may not have been able to find details, but there’s a lovely sense of place in that scene. I too often put ***** when I don’t have the research details for a particular scene in a first draft. Back when I was co-writing with my mom, we had a problem similar to your Bagnigge Wells problem with the village of Freneda, which Wellington made his headquaters in the winter of 1812/1813 during the Peninsular War. We couldn’t find any description of it in letters, journals, history books. The best description we could find came from Georgette Heyer’s “The Spanish Bride” (Heyer’s research is impeccable , but with a description in a novel you’re never sure where the facts leave off and the writer’s imagination comes into play). In the end we played up the few details we had, making them as vivid as possible, and I think the scene turned out okay. And I agree, sometimes hours spent researching can be a chance for your subconscious to work on the book–not to mentin sheer fun!

    Reply
  31. History nerds of the world unite. LOL! I hate having to “fudge it”, as my godmother says, but I will do so with no shame whatsoever if I can’t locate any facts to the contrary. *grin* Sometimes the answer is “nobody knows”.

    Reply
  32. History nerds of the world unite. LOL! I hate having to “fudge it”, as my godmother says, but I will do so with no shame whatsoever if I can’t locate any facts to the contrary. *grin* Sometimes the answer is “nobody knows”.

    Reply
  33. History nerds of the world unite. LOL! I hate having to “fudge it”, as my godmother says, but I will do so with no shame whatsoever if I can’t locate any facts to the contrary. *grin* Sometimes the answer is “nobody knows”.

    Reply
  34. History nerds of the world unite. LOL! I hate having to “fudge it”, as my godmother says, but I will do so with no shame whatsoever if I can’t locate any facts to the contrary. *grin* Sometimes the answer is “nobody knows”.

    Reply
  35. History nerds of the world unite. LOL! I hate having to “fudge it”, as my godmother says, but I will do so with no shame whatsoever if I can’t locate any facts to the contrary. *grin* Sometimes the answer is “nobody knows”.

    Reply
  36. When writing about real people, famous (or infamous!) in their time, the history nerd will on some days overdose of historical detail, and on others tear out her hair at the dearth of information.
    I’ve been working on–research and now writing–a historical novel about real people for years. And only last night did I work out exactly where my female protagnonist’s parents were living when she was born.
    It’s not even in the novel. But it had bugged me. I slept much better for knowing.
    I’m a little acquainted with Charles Beauclerk. He did a masterful and quite fascinating job telling his ancestress’ story. My characters are also mentioned in that biography, and it has informed my novel in numerous ways.
    Susan/Miranda–thanks for the sneak peek at Nell’s book. I don’t want to wait till summer!

    Reply
  37. When writing about real people, famous (or infamous!) in their time, the history nerd will on some days overdose of historical detail, and on others tear out her hair at the dearth of information.
    I’ve been working on–research and now writing–a historical novel about real people for years. And only last night did I work out exactly where my female protagnonist’s parents were living when she was born.
    It’s not even in the novel. But it had bugged me. I slept much better for knowing.
    I’m a little acquainted with Charles Beauclerk. He did a masterful and quite fascinating job telling his ancestress’ story. My characters are also mentioned in that biography, and it has informed my novel in numerous ways.
    Susan/Miranda–thanks for the sneak peek at Nell’s book. I don’t want to wait till summer!

    Reply
  38. When writing about real people, famous (or infamous!) in their time, the history nerd will on some days overdose of historical detail, and on others tear out her hair at the dearth of information.
    I’ve been working on–research and now writing–a historical novel about real people for years. And only last night did I work out exactly where my female protagnonist’s parents were living when she was born.
    It’s not even in the novel. But it had bugged me. I slept much better for knowing.
    I’m a little acquainted with Charles Beauclerk. He did a masterful and quite fascinating job telling his ancestress’ story. My characters are also mentioned in that biography, and it has informed my novel in numerous ways.
    Susan/Miranda–thanks for the sneak peek at Nell’s book. I don’t want to wait till summer!

    Reply
  39. When writing about real people, famous (or infamous!) in their time, the history nerd will on some days overdose of historical detail, and on others tear out her hair at the dearth of information.
    I’ve been working on–research and now writing–a historical novel about real people for years. And only last night did I work out exactly where my female protagnonist’s parents were living when she was born.
    It’s not even in the novel. But it had bugged me. I slept much better for knowing.
    I’m a little acquainted with Charles Beauclerk. He did a masterful and quite fascinating job telling his ancestress’ story. My characters are also mentioned in that biography, and it has informed my novel in numerous ways.
    Susan/Miranda–thanks for the sneak peek at Nell’s book. I don’t want to wait till summer!

    Reply
  40. When writing about real people, famous (or infamous!) in their time, the history nerd will on some days overdose of historical detail, and on others tear out her hair at the dearth of information.
    I’ve been working on–research and now writing–a historical novel about real people for years. And only last night did I work out exactly where my female protagnonist’s parents were living when she was born.
    It’s not even in the novel. But it had bugged me. I slept much better for knowing.
    I’m a little acquainted with Charles Beauclerk. He did a masterful and quite fascinating job telling his ancestress’ story. My characters are also mentioned in that biography, and it has informed my novel in numerous ways.
    Susan/Miranda–thanks for the sneak peek at Nell’s book. I don’t want to wait till summer!

    Reply
  41. Margaret & Elizabeth,
    More kindred spirits! *g*
    Yes, I have the Beauclerk biography of Nell, sitting right beside me, in fact. There are surprisingly few biographies of her, considering how she’s the best-known of Charles II’s mistresses. She seems to have been very popular in the 19th century, when the Victorian writers really burnished her reputation as a true “folk heroine” — the common-born mistress with the heart of gold, as compared to Barbara Castlemaine, who many doubted had a heart at all. *g*
    I’ve found the Beauclerk book fascinating — how seldom are biographies written by descendants of famous people? But I think much of the book’s charm is also its weakness. In many ways it’s more of a fond tribute than a scholarly piece, and this personalized view of the past often plays fast and loose with facts and dates.
    But then, everyone who writes anything with a historical setting gets to pick and choose what they please, and my version of the past’s bound to be just as whacky (maybe more so!) than the rest… *g*
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  42. Margaret & Elizabeth,
    More kindred spirits! *g*
    Yes, I have the Beauclerk biography of Nell, sitting right beside me, in fact. There are surprisingly few biographies of her, considering how she’s the best-known of Charles II’s mistresses. She seems to have been very popular in the 19th century, when the Victorian writers really burnished her reputation as a true “folk heroine” — the common-born mistress with the heart of gold, as compared to Barbara Castlemaine, who many doubted had a heart at all. *g*
    I’ve found the Beauclerk book fascinating — how seldom are biographies written by descendants of famous people? But I think much of the book’s charm is also its weakness. In many ways it’s more of a fond tribute than a scholarly piece, and this personalized view of the past often plays fast and loose with facts and dates.
    But then, everyone who writes anything with a historical setting gets to pick and choose what they please, and my version of the past’s bound to be just as whacky (maybe more so!) than the rest… *g*
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  43. Margaret & Elizabeth,
    More kindred spirits! *g*
    Yes, I have the Beauclerk biography of Nell, sitting right beside me, in fact. There are surprisingly few biographies of her, considering how she’s the best-known of Charles II’s mistresses. She seems to have been very popular in the 19th century, when the Victorian writers really burnished her reputation as a true “folk heroine” — the common-born mistress with the heart of gold, as compared to Barbara Castlemaine, who many doubted had a heart at all. *g*
    I’ve found the Beauclerk book fascinating — how seldom are biographies written by descendants of famous people? But I think much of the book’s charm is also its weakness. In many ways it’s more of a fond tribute than a scholarly piece, and this personalized view of the past often plays fast and loose with facts and dates.
    But then, everyone who writes anything with a historical setting gets to pick and choose what they please, and my version of the past’s bound to be just as whacky (maybe more so!) than the rest… *g*
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  44. Margaret & Elizabeth,
    More kindred spirits! *g*
    Yes, I have the Beauclerk biography of Nell, sitting right beside me, in fact. There are surprisingly few biographies of her, considering how she’s the best-known of Charles II’s mistresses. She seems to have been very popular in the 19th century, when the Victorian writers really burnished her reputation as a true “folk heroine” — the common-born mistress with the heart of gold, as compared to Barbara Castlemaine, who many doubted had a heart at all. *g*
    I’ve found the Beauclerk book fascinating — how seldom are biographies written by descendants of famous people? But I think much of the book’s charm is also its weakness. In many ways it’s more of a fond tribute than a scholarly piece, and this personalized view of the past often plays fast and loose with facts and dates.
    But then, everyone who writes anything with a historical setting gets to pick and choose what they please, and my version of the past’s bound to be just as whacky (maybe more so!) than the rest… *g*
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  45. Margaret & Elizabeth,
    More kindred spirits! *g*
    Yes, I have the Beauclerk biography of Nell, sitting right beside me, in fact. There are surprisingly few biographies of her, considering how she’s the best-known of Charles II’s mistresses. She seems to have been very popular in the 19th century, when the Victorian writers really burnished her reputation as a true “folk heroine” — the common-born mistress with the heart of gold, as compared to Barbara Castlemaine, who many doubted had a heart at all. *g*
    I’ve found the Beauclerk book fascinating — how seldom are biographies written by descendants of famous people? But I think much of the book’s charm is also its weakness. In many ways it’s more of a fond tribute than a scholarly piece, and this personalized view of the past often plays fast and loose with facts and dates.
    But then, everyone who writes anything with a historical setting gets to pick and choose what they please, and my version of the past’s bound to be just as whacky (maybe more so!) than the rest… *g*
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  46. Susan/Miranda,
    Hope you don’t mind but I have a question about Royal Harlot. As I read recently, I kept coming back to one question. She was obviously a woman who didn’t have many friends, wasn’t even liked much by very many people, and in a lot of ways I could see why from your book. In spite of that, however, even though I could definitely see her faults in the book I kept having the sense of her as a sympathetic character. Since so much of the available research material paints the opposite picture, how did you come up with this slant? Or am I completely wrong about your POV on her?

    Reply
  47. Susan/Miranda,
    Hope you don’t mind but I have a question about Royal Harlot. As I read recently, I kept coming back to one question. She was obviously a woman who didn’t have many friends, wasn’t even liked much by very many people, and in a lot of ways I could see why from your book. In spite of that, however, even though I could definitely see her faults in the book I kept having the sense of her as a sympathetic character. Since so much of the available research material paints the opposite picture, how did you come up with this slant? Or am I completely wrong about your POV on her?

    Reply
  48. Susan/Miranda,
    Hope you don’t mind but I have a question about Royal Harlot. As I read recently, I kept coming back to one question. She was obviously a woman who didn’t have many friends, wasn’t even liked much by very many people, and in a lot of ways I could see why from your book. In spite of that, however, even though I could definitely see her faults in the book I kept having the sense of her as a sympathetic character. Since so much of the available research material paints the opposite picture, how did you come up with this slant? Or am I completely wrong about your POV on her?

    Reply
  49. Susan/Miranda,
    Hope you don’t mind but I have a question about Royal Harlot. As I read recently, I kept coming back to one question. She was obviously a woman who didn’t have many friends, wasn’t even liked much by very many people, and in a lot of ways I could see why from your book. In spite of that, however, even though I could definitely see her faults in the book I kept having the sense of her as a sympathetic character. Since so much of the available research material paints the opposite picture, how did you come up with this slant? Or am I completely wrong about your POV on her?

    Reply
  50. Susan/Miranda,
    Hope you don’t mind but I have a question about Royal Harlot. As I read recently, I kept coming back to one question. She was obviously a woman who didn’t have many friends, wasn’t even liked much by very many people, and in a lot of ways I could see why from your book. In spite of that, however, even though I could definitely see her faults in the book I kept having the sense of her as a sympathetic character. Since so much of the available research material paints the opposite picture, how did you come up with this slant? Or am I completely wrong about your POV on her?

    Reply
  51. At school I remember someone revising for history exams almost only by reading Jean Plaidy.
    I’m one of those people that thinks they know the state of mind of the author and then reads a biography and finds out something totally different. (e.g. Georgette Heyer and her deathly historicals that she loved over the romances) Its funny that “contractual obligation” albums seem so easy to spot in music, but in books I often regard as someone’s best work!

    Reply
  52. At school I remember someone revising for history exams almost only by reading Jean Plaidy.
    I’m one of those people that thinks they know the state of mind of the author and then reads a biography and finds out something totally different. (e.g. Georgette Heyer and her deathly historicals that she loved over the romances) Its funny that “contractual obligation” albums seem so easy to spot in music, but in books I often regard as someone’s best work!

    Reply
  53. At school I remember someone revising for history exams almost only by reading Jean Plaidy.
    I’m one of those people that thinks they know the state of mind of the author and then reads a biography and finds out something totally different. (e.g. Georgette Heyer and her deathly historicals that she loved over the romances) Its funny that “contractual obligation” albums seem so easy to spot in music, but in books I often regard as someone’s best work!

    Reply
  54. At school I remember someone revising for history exams almost only by reading Jean Plaidy.
    I’m one of those people that thinks they know the state of mind of the author and then reads a biography and finds out something totally different. (e.g. Georgette Heyer and her deathly historicals that she loved over the romances) Its funny that “contractual obligation” albums seem so easy to spot in music, but in books I often regard as someone’s best work!

    Reply
  55. At school I remember someone revising for history exams almost only by reading Jean Plaidy.
    I’m one of those people that thinks they know the state of mind of the author and then reads a biography and finds out something totally different. (e.g. Georgette Heyer and her deathly historicals that she loved over the romances) Its funny that “contractual obligation” albums seem so easy to spot in music, but in books I often regard as someone’s best work!

    Reply
  56. Tracy and Kalen — History nerds united, indeed! I can’t tell you how many hours I’ve spent (spent, NOT wasted) trying to find, say, if the windows were opening out or up, or what kind of leading separated the panes, or if there might have been a window-box, and what kind of flowers….well, you get the idea, because you’ve Been There too. *g*
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  57. Tracy and Kalen — History nerds united, indeed! I can’t tell you how many hours I’ve spent (spent, NOT wasted) trying to find, say, if the windows were opening out or up, or what kind of leading separated the panes, or if there might have been a window-box, and what kind of flowers….well, you get the idea, because you’ve Been There too. *g*
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  58. Tracy and Kalen — History nerds united, indeed! I can’t tell you how many hours I’ve spent (spent, NOT wasted) trying to find, say, if the windows were opening out or up, or what kind of leading separated the panes, or if there might have been a window-box, and what kind of flowers….well, you get the idea, because you’ve Been There too. *g*
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  59. Tracy and Kalen — History nerds united, indeed! I can’t tell you how many hours I’ve spent (spent, NOT wasted) trying to find, say, if the windows were opening out or up, or what kind of leading separated the panes, or if there might have been a window-box, and what kind of flowers….well, you get the idea, because you’ve Been There too. *g*
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  60. Tracy and Kalen — History nerds united, indeed! I can’t tell you how many hours I’ve spent (spent, NOT wasted) trying to find, say, if the windows were opening out or up, or what kind of leading separated the panes, or if there might have been a window-box, and what kind of flowers….well, you get the idea, because you’ve Been There too. *g*
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  61. Sharon asked: “Since so much of the available research material paints the opposite picture [of Lady Castlemaine in ROYAL HARLOT], how did you come up with this slant? Or am I completely wrong about your POV on her?”
    First, I’m glad to hear that you found her sympathetic — means I did my job. *g*
    But to answer your question: I’ve always been fascinated by Barbara. As you note, she usually turns up as the super-villianess, whether in fiction or non-fiction, and she was pretty uniformly reviled in her time. Two points stand out, however: Charles loved her well enough to keep her as his mistress for over ten years, and in a time when noble-born mothers usually turned their children over to others to be raised, she had close, loving relationships with her entire brood, who were in turn seemingly very devoted to her.
    It’s also telling that her harshest critics have always been men, many of whom found fault with both her flagrant sexuality and the amount of power she was able to obtain. My guess was that she went so far beyond “acceptable” behavior for ladies of her time that she probably worried and frightened a good many gentlemen (nothing new there, I’m afraid), and what better way to cut her down to size than to hack and slash her for posterity? (alas, nothing new there, either.) What she did was absolutely no different than many of her male counterparts of the time did — though at least she didn’t kill anyone in a duel.
    So yes, the Barbara of ROYAL HARLOT is my interpretation, though I think it’s also a plausible one. I didn’t try to redeem her, or make her anything she wasn’t, but she was certainly one fun heroine to write. 🙂
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  62. Sharon asked: “Since so much of the available research material paints the opposite picture [of Lady Castlemaine in ROYAL HARLOT], how did you come up with this slant? Or am I completely wrong about your POV on her?”
    First, I’m glad to hear that you found her sympathetic — means I did my job. *g*
    But to answer your question: I’ve always been fascinated by Barbara. As you note, she usually turns up as the super-villianess, whether in fiction or non-fiction, and she was pretty uniformly reviled in her time. Two points stand out, however: Charles loved her well enough to keep her as his mistress for over ten years, and in a time when noble-born mothers usually turned their children over to others to be raised, she had close, loving relationships with her entire brood, who were in turn seemingly very devoted to her.
    It’s also telling that her harshest critics have always been men, many of whom found fault with both her flagrant sexuality and the amount of power she was able to obtain. My guess was that she went so far beyond “acceptable” behavior for ladies of her time that she probably worried and frightened a good many gentlemen (nothing new there, I’m afraid), and what better way to cut her down to size than to hack and slash her for posterity? (alas, nothing new there, either.) What she did was absolutely no different than many of her male counterparts of the time did — though at least she didn’t kill anyone in a duel.
    So yes, the Barbara of ROYAL HARLOT is my interpretation, though I think it’s also a plausible one. I didn’t try to redeem her, or make her anything she wasn’t, but she was certainly one fun heroine to write. 🙂
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  63. Sharon asked: “Since so much of the available research material paints the opposite picture [of Lady Castlemaine in ROYAL HARLOT], how did you come up with this slant? Or am I completely wrong about your POV on her?”
    First, I’m glad to hear that you found her sympathetic — means I did my job. *g*
    But to answer your question: I’ve always been fascinated by Barbara. As you note, she usually turns up as the super-villianess, whether in fiction or non-fiction, and she was pretty uniformly reviled in her time. Two points stand out, however: Charles loved her well enough to keep her as his mistress for over ten years, and in a time when noble-born mothers usually turned their children over to others to be raised, she had close, loving relationships with her entire brood, who were in turn seemingly very devoted to her.
    It’s also telling that her harshest critics have always been men, many of whom found fault with both her flagrant sexuality and the amount of power she was able to obtain. My guess was that she went so far beyond “acceptable” behavior for ladies of her time that she probably worried and frightened a good many gentlemen (nothing new there, I’m afraid), and what better way to cut her down to size than to hack and slash her for posterity? (alas, nothing new there, either.) What she did was absolutely no different than many of her male counterparts of the time did — though at least she didn’t kill anyone in a duel.
    So yes, the Barbara of ROYAL HARLOT is my interpretation, though I think it’s also a plausible one. I didn’t try to redeem her, or make her anything she wasn’t, but she was certainly one fun heroine to write. 🙂
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  64. Sharon asked: “Since so much of the available research material paints the opposite picture [of Lady Castlemaine in ROYAL HARLOT], how did you come up with this slant? Or am I completely wrong about your POV on her?”
    First, I’m glad to hear that you found her sympathetic — means I did my job. *g*
    But to answer your question: I’ve always been fascinated by Barbara. As you note, she usually turns up as the super-villianess, whether in fiction or non-fiction, and she was pretty uniformly reviled in her time. Two points stand out, however: Charles loved her well enough to keep her as his mistress for over ten years, and in a time when noble-born mothers usually turned their children over to others to be raised, she had close, loving relationships with her entire brood, who were in turn seemingly very devoted to her.
    It’s also telling that her harshest critics have always been men, many of whom found fault with both her flagrant sexuality and the amount of power she was able to obtain. My guess was that she went so far beyond “acceptable” behavior for ladies of her time that she probably worried and frightened a good many gentlemen (nothing new there, I’m afraid), and what better way to cut her down to size than to hack and slash her for posterity? (alas, nothing new there, either.) What she did was absolutely no different than many of her male counterparts of the time did — though at least she didn’t kill anyone in a duel.
    So yes, the Barbara of ROYAL HARLOT is my interpretation, though I think it’s also a plausible one. I didn’t try to redeem her, or make her anything she wasn’t, but she was certainly one fun heroine to write. 🙂
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  65. Sharon asked: “Since so much of the available research material paints the opposite picture [of Lady Castlemaine in ROYAL HARLOT], how did you come up with this slant? Or am I completely wrong about your POV on her?”
    First, I’m glad to hear that you found her sympathetic — means I did my job. *g*
    But to answer your question: I’ve always been fascinated by Barbara. As you note, she usually turns up as the super-villianess, whether in fiction or non-fiction, and she was pretty uniformly reviled in her time. Two points stand out, however: Charles loved her well enough to keep her as his mistress for over ten years, and in a time when noble-born mothers usually turned their children over to others to be raised, she had close, loving relationships with her entire brood, who were in turn seemingly very devoted to her.
    It’s also telling that her harshest critics have always been men, many of whom found fault with both her flagrant sexuality and the amount of power she was able to obtain. My guess was that she went so far beyond “acceptable” behavior for ladies of her time that she probably worried and frightened a good many gentlemen (nothing new there, I’m afraid), and what better way to cut her down to size than to hack and slash her for posterity? (alas, nothing new there, either.) What she did was absolutely no different than many of her male counterparts of the time did — though at least she didn’t kill anyone in a duel.
    So yes, the Barbara of ROYAL HARLOT is my interpretation, though I think it’s also a plausible one. I didn’t try to redeem her, or make her anything she wasn’t, but she was certainly one fun heroine to write. 🙂
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  66. Susan/Miranda, I’ve been reading Allen Andrew’s book Royal Whore, and he mentions that Clarendon when he wrote his memoirs refused to even call Barbara by her name, she was always “that woman.” It was clear to me that Barbara was really a man’s woman, in the sense that she like to do the things that men liked to do, and really had no time or patience for most women.

    Reply
  67. Susan/Miranda, I’ve been reading Allen Andrew’s book Royal Whore, and he mentions that Clarendon when he wrote his memoirs refused to even call Barbara by her name, she was always “that woman.” It was clear to me that Barbara was really a man’s woman, in the sense that she like to do the things that men liked to do, and really had no time or patience for most women.

    Reply
  68. Susan/Miranda, I’ve been reading Allen Andrew’s book Royal Whore, and he mentions that Clarendon when he wrote his memoirs refused to even call Barbara by her name, she was always “that woman.” It was clear to me that Barbara was really a man’s woman, in the sense that she like to do the things that men liked to do, and really had no time or patience for most women.

    Reply
  69. Susan/Miranda, I’ve been reading Allen Andrew’s book Royal Whore, and he mentions that Clarendon when he wrote his memoirs refused to even call Barbara by her name, she was always “that woman.” It was clear to me that Barbara was really a man’s woman, in the sense that she like to do the things that men liked to do, and really had no time or patience for most women.

    Reply
  70. Susan/Miranda, I’ve been reading Allen Andrew’s book Royal Whore, and he mentions that Clarendon when he wrote his memoirs refused to even call Barbara by her name, she was always “that woman.” It was clear to me that Barbara was really a man’s woman, in the sense that she like to do the things that men liked to do, and really had no time or patience for most women.

    Reply
  71. Elizabeth–
    I liked the Andrew’s bio, even if it’s a bit dated now. (You can tell it’s a late ’60s book by that racy “nymphomanic” tag for Barbara *g*)
    Clarendon does get the last laugh, though, considering how often his history of the time is used as a primary source. Nothing like leaving court in disgrace if you can then write a tell-all-my-side-of-the-story book while you sit in the orchard of your French estate.
    Don’t you wish Barbara had found the time (or inclination) to write a book of her own? Whoa, would THAT have been interesting!
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  72. Elizabeth–
    I liked the Andrew’s bio, even if it’s a bit dated now. (You can tell it’s a late ’60s book by that racy “nymphomanic” tag for Barbara *g*)
    Clarendon does get the last laugh, though, considering how often his history of the time is used as a primary source. Nothing like leaving court in disgrace if you can then write a tell-all-my-side-of-the-story book while you sit in the orchard of your French estate.
    Don’t you wish Barbara had found the time (or inclination) to write a book of her own? Whoa, would THAT have been interesting!
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  73. Elizabeth–
    I liked the Andrew’s bio, even if it’s a bit dated now. (You can tell it’s a late ’60s book by that racy “nymphomanic” tag for Barbara *g*)
    Clarendon does get the last laugh, though, considering how often his history of the time is used as a primary source. Nothing like leaving court in disgrace if you can then write a tell-all-my-side-of-the-story book while you sit in the orchard of your French estate.
    Don’t you wish Barbara had found the time (or inclination) to write a book of her own? Whoa, would THAT have been interesting!
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  74. Elizabeth–
    I liked the Andrew’s bio, even if it’s a bit dated now. (You can tell it’s a late ’60s book by that racy “nymphomanic” tag for Barbara *g*)
    Clarendon does get the last laugh, though, considering how often his history of the time is used as a primary source. Nothing like leaving court in disgrace if you can then write a tell-all-my-side-of-the-story book while you sit in the orchard of your French estate.
    Don’t you wish Barbara had found the time (or inclination) to write a book of her own? Whoa, would THAT have been interesting!
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  75. Elizabeth–
    I liked the Andrew’s bio, even if it’s a bit dated now. (You can tell it’s a late ’60s book by that racy “nymphomanic” tag for Barbara *g*)
    Clarendon does get the last laugh, though, considering how often his history of the time is used as a primary source. Nothing like leaving court in disgrace if you can then write a tell-all-my-side-of-the-story book while you sit in the orchard of your French estate.
    Don’t you wish Barbara had found the time (or inclination) to write a book of her own? Whoa, would THAT have been interesting!
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  76. Susan/Miranda,
    Sometimes it’s felt as though an author was in a hurry and didn’t spend as much time as he/she could have. But no, I don’t think the author’s feelings at the time are necessarily obvious. Looking back on a single one of my books, for instance, it’s hard to remember which parts were hard to write and which were easy. I kind of figure the agony shouldn’t show, and that we aim (perhaps unconsciously, if we’ve been doing it for any length of time) for a certain level of writing that rises above the momentary feelings.
    And I wish I knew how to pronounce “Bagnigge.”

    Reply
  77. Susan/Miranda,
    Sometimes it’s felt as though an author was in a hurry and didn’t spend as much time as he/she could have. But no, I don’t think the author’s feelings at the time are necessarily obvious. Looking back on a single one of my books, for instance, it’s hard to remember which parts were hard to write and which were easy. I kind of figure the agony shouldn’t show, and that we aim (perhaps unconsciously, if we’ve been doing it for any length of time) for a certain level of writing that rises above the momentary feelings.
    And I wish I knew how to pronounce “Bagnigge.”

    Reply
  78. Susan/Miranda,
    Sometimes it’s felt as though an author was in a hurry and didn’t spend as much time as he/she could have. But no, I don’t think the author’s feelings at the time are necessarily obvious. Looking back on a single one of my books, for instance, it’s hard to remember which parts were hard to write and which were easy. I kind of figure the agony shouldn’t show, and that we aim (perhaps unconsciously, if we’ve been doing it for any length of time) for a certain level of writing that rises above the momentary feelings.
    And I wish I knew how to pronounce “Bagnigge.”

    Reply
  79. Susan/Miranda,
    Sometimes it’s felt as though an author was in a hurry and didn’t spend as much time as he/she could have. But no, I don’t think the author’s feelings at the time are necessarily obvious. Looking back on a single one of my books, for instance, it’s hard to remember which parts were hard to write and which were easy. I kind of figure the agony shouldn’t show, and that we aim (perhaps unconsciously, if we’ve been doing it for any length of time) for a certain level of writing that rises above the momentary feelings.
    And I wish I knew how to pronounce “Bagnigge.”

    Reply
  80. Susan/Miranda,
    Sometimes it’s felt as though an author was in a hurry and didn’t spend as much time as he/she could have. But no, I don’t think the author’s feelings at the time are necessarily obvious. Looking back on a single one of my books, for instance, it’s hard to remember which parts were hard to write and which were easy. I kind of figure the agony shouldn’t show, and that we aim (perhaps unconsciously, if we’ve been doing it for any length of time) for a certain level of writing that rises above the momentary feelings.
    And I wish I knew how to pronounce “Bagnigge.”

    Reply
  81. Dear Susan/Miranda,
    If you search for “gwynne place” on wikimedia commons (commons.wikimedia.org) you will find a photograph that I have posted that might interest you. Bagnigge is pronounced “Bagg-nidge”. The girl on the steps is probably my mum, though we’ll never know for sure.

    Reply
  82. Dear Susan/Miranda,
    If you search for “gwynne place” on wikimedia commons (commons.wikimedia.org) you will find a photograph that I have posted that might interest you. Bagnigge is pronounced “Bagg-nidge”. The girl on the steps is probably my mum, though we’ll never know for sure.

    Reply
  83. Dear Susan/Miranda,
    If you search for “gwynne place” on wikimedia commons (commons.wikimedia.org) you will find a photograph that I have posted that might interest you. Bagnigge is pronounced “Bagg-nidge”. The girl on the steps is probably my mum, though we’ll never know for sure.

    Reply
  84. Dear Susan/Miranda,
    If you search for “gwynne place” on wikimedia commons (commons.wikimedia.org) you will find a photograph that I have posted that might interest you. Bagnigge is pronounced “Bagg-nidge”. The girl on the steps is probably my mum, though we’ll never know for sure.

    Reply
  85. Dear Susan/Miranda,
    If you search for “gwynne place” on wikimedia commons (commons.wikimedia.org) you will find a photograph that I have posted that might interest you. Bagnigge is pronounced “Bagg-nidge”. The girl on the steps is probably my mum, though we’ll never know for sure.

    Reply
  86. I attended boarding school at St.Nicholas School at The Wells House on Epsom Common, Surrey, from 1936-1940 (when a bomb fell at the front door & the building was evacuated). The original Well where Epsom Salts was discovered was in our cricket field, and was often visited by interested tourists. The house itself, we all understood, was built for Charles I with the purpose of trysts with Nell Gwynn. We were not on a river. It was a most beautiful building, and still exists; in 1982 I visitged there, but it had been converted into a home for mentally challenged youngsters, so I was not able to go inside and renew old memories.

    Reply
  87. I attended boarding school at St.Nicholas School at The Wells House on Epsom Common, Surrey, from 1936-1940 (when a bomb fell at the front door & the building was evacuated). The original Well where Epsom Salts was discovered was in our cricket field, and was often visited by interested tourists. The house itself, we all understood, was built for Charles I with the purpose of trysts with Nell Gwynn. We were not on a river. It was a most beautiful building, and still exists; in 1982 I visitged there, but it had been converted into a home for mentally challenged youngsters, so I was not able to go inside and renew old memories.

    Reply
  88. I attended boarding school at St.Nicholas School at The Wells House on Epsom Common, Surrey, from 1936-1940 (when a bomb fell at the front door & the building was evacuated). The original Well where Epsom Salts was discovered was in our cricket field, and was often visited by interested tourists. The house itself, we all understood, was built for Charles I with the purpose of trysts with Nell Gwynn. We were not on a river. It was a most beautiful building, and still exists; in 1982 I visitged there, but it had been converted into a home for mentally challenged youngsters, so I was not able to go inside and renew old memories.

    Reply
  89. I attended boarding school at St.Nicholas School at The Wells House on Epsom Common, Surrey, from 1936-1940 (when a bomb fell at the front door & the building was evacuated). The original Well where Epsom Salts was discovered was in our cricket field, and was often visited by interested tourists. The house itself, we all understood, was built for Charles I with the purpose of trysts with Nell Gwynn. We were not on a river. It was a most beautiful building, and still exists; in 1982 I visitged there, but it had been converted into a home for mentally challenged youngsters, so I was not able to go inside and renew old memories.

    Reply
  90. I attended boarding school at St.Nicholas School at The Wells House on Epsom Common, Surrey, from 1936-1940 (when a bomb fell at the front door & the building was evacuated). The original Well where Epsom Salts was discovered was in our cricket field, and was often visited by interested tourists. The house itself, we all understood, was built for Charles I with the purpose of trysts with Nell Gwynn. We were not on a river. It was a most beautiful building, and still exists; in 1982 I visitged there, but it had been converted into a home for mentally challenged youngsters, so I was not able to go inside and renew old memories.

    Reply

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