Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Lord and Lady Grange; Or, Why It Is a Great Pity the 18th Century Never Got Around to Inventing Reality TV

I am delighted to welcome Undine of the Strange Company blog to the salon today. Undine is a great friend and can always be relied upon to find the oddest snippets of history! Do find her on Twitter too, and revel in the wonderful stories she unearths...


Lord and Lady Grange; Or, Why It Is a Great Pity the 18th Century Never Got Around to Inventing Reality TV

Lady Grange, via Wikipedia

Anyone who assumes the sort of guests found on “Dr. Phil” or “The Jerry Springer Show” are a modern aberration has yet to meet Lord and Lady Grange, the pride of 18th century Scotland. The Mrs. was the daughter of an executed murderer and liked to think of herself as a chip off the old block. Her spouse was a Lord Justice-Clerk of Scotland, a leading Hanoverian, a prominent light of the Presbyterian church, and a husband who solved his matrimonial unhappiness by imprisoning his wife on a remote island for the last thirteen years of her life.

Lady Grange, via Wikipedia

The marriage of James Erskine, Lord Grange and Rachel Chiesly was of the shotgun variety. And with these two, it should come as no surprise that this was quite literally the case. When Grange, who prided himself on his womanizing ways, met the beautiful and fiery Miss Chiesly, he was quite happy to sleep with her. When she became pregnant, he was equally eager to abandon her. This proved to be a grave error. Legend has it that one morning she stalked into his home holding a marriage bond in one hand and a pistol in another. After dropping a few significant reminders about her paternal heritage, Miss Chiesly announced she would be an honest woman or Grange would be a dead man. His choice. Erskine picked the former, although they would both quickly regret his decision.

The marriage, (which took place around 1707,) and nine children failed to have a good influence on Lord Grange—at one point he was described as “engaged in a course of debauchery at Edinburgh” that “interrupted his religious exercises”—and his Lady was not the woman to take an unsatisfactory spouse calmly. She was, in the words of an acquaintance, “unquiet.” Her habitual fits of rage—against her husband, against her children, against stray passerby, against the world--were terrifying. She drank even more than the prodigious quantities consumed by her husband (and was an even meaner drunk.) Connubial bliss reached the point where she became fond of sleeping with loaded guns and razors under her pillow. It is almost too appropriate that when not engaged in his busy legal career and earnest religious studies, Lord Grange, who was a great bibliophile, developed a deep interest in demonology and witchcraft. (In 1718, Grange complacently recorded in his diary that “I drank and whor’d and followed sensual pleasures, but I never gave over reading, tho’ my lewdness hinder’d exceedingly my profiting at any study.”)

By the 1720s, Grange’s life showed danger of turning from the merely hellish to something far more dangerous. He had enemies in the Kirk—in 1726 he complained that he was being “represented as a hypocrite and pretender to religion”--and he was increasingly suspected of Jacobite tendencies. Worse still, “That plague of my life,” as Grange called his helpmeet, was exploiting these rumors, loudly accusing him and his friends of treason. Finally, in 1730, Lady Grange was induced to agree to a formal separation. In exchange for a hundred pounds a year, she was to depart her husband’s house for good.

She did not take her dismissal well. She developed a habit of making a raucous spectacle of herself in front of his estate—always when there were visitors. “She cried and raged,” he wrote, “against me and mine, watched for me in the streets, chased me from place to place in the most indecent and shameless manner, and threatened to attack me on the Bench.” After Lady Grange broke into his house, stole the household accounts, and “committed outrages,” Grange was forced to have his house protected round-the-clock by the Town Guard. She intercepted his letters, in the hope of finding proof of her treason accusations, and, every now and then, tried to kill him.

Most would think this delightful pair richly deserved each other, but Grange felt otherwise. After conferring with certain of his friends, an elaborate trap was laid for his wife. It is often stated as fact that Lady Grange had finally acquired evidence that would establish her husband’s treasonous support for the Stuarts, thus forcing Grange to take extreme measures, but other historians question this. It seems equally likely that Grange simply wanted to be rid of his pesky spouse for good, but convinced his accomplices that she was politically dangerous to them all, in order to secure their cooperation.

On the night of January 22, 1732, as Lady Grange was preparing for bed, a group of men broke into her bedroom, and, after a violent fight, she was gagged, bound, carried off in a waiting coach, and eventually imprisoned on various locations in the Outer Hebrides—an area which, in those days, was nearly as remote as the moon. She wound up on what she later described as “the vile, nasty, stinking, poor isle of St. Kilda”—and this description was not hyperbole.

Lady Grange’s disappearance aroused amazingly little interest. Even her children, (whom she had all disinherited many years before,) viewed her sudden absence as an unexpected blessing rather than an alarming mystery. After a short time, her husband announced that she had died--he even held a funeral service--and most were content to leave it at that.

However, after eight years, she was able to smuggle to her business agent in Edinburgh, a Mr. Hope, two letters announcing her plight. The news produced much publicity, but no practical results. Hope made some efforts to have her either released or rescued, but no one in authority seemed to take the Grange abduction as anything more than a private domestic matter with a happy enough ending. In the meantime, Lady Grange’s captors, in an effort to forestall any rescue attempts, kept her on the move, until she died on the island of Skye on May 12, 1745. Soon after she was buried in the local churchyard, a second, “mock” funeral, featuring a coffin filled with stones, was held. It is unknown why this was done. Perhaps, knowing Lady Grange’s indomitable nature, they wanted to make sure the burial “took.”

It is pleasant to note that Grange gained little from the removal of his wife. He dabbled in politics, with disastrous results. He gained a seat in the House of Commons, but his maiden speech—which dealt with his pet topic of witchcraft—was said to have “set the House in a titter of laughter.” (A contemporary described Grange as having “neither learning nor ability. He was no lawyer, and he was a bad speaker.”) His latter years were also plagued with financial problems. After the death of Lady Grange, he married his chief mistress, a coffee-house keeper named Fanny Lindsay. Although the new Lady had dreams of social conquest, she and her husband were seen by the local gentry as disgraceful outcasts, forcing them to depart for the less judgmental atmosphere of London. Lord Grange died obscurely in that city on January 20, 1754.

Lady Grange’s melancholy fate has, over the centuries, been immortalized in poems, plays, and novels, all depicting her as a martyred heroine. Her spirit may be taking some consolation from the fact that in a sense, she has had the last laugh on her despised spouse.

Written content of this post copyright © Undine, 2015.

Monday, 12 October 2015

Helen Maria Williams: a lost reputation in defence of liberty

Please welcome Sarah Agnew, with the tale of a most remarkable woman!


Helen Maria Williams born London 17th June 1759 - died Paris, 15th December 1827

Famous in her own lifetime, Helen Maria Williams was once the subject of gossip columns in the London press. She was loyal, brave and passionately committed to human rights, yet it were these qualities that led to her losing favour and falling into obscurity. They were also to lead to her arrest and imprisonment at 2am on 12th October 1793 along with her mother and sisters during the Reign of Terror in Paris.

Born in London the family moved to Berwick on Tweed on the Scottish border after her father's death, where Helen grew up amid Protestant thinkers at the end of the enlightenment era. Moving back to London in her early twenties, Helen first came to public notice for her poetry, published under the mentorship of the Dissenting minister Andrew Kippis. Her poems were part of the sentimental movement and she wrote about the anguish of prisoners forgotten in subterranean prison cells and the horror of slaves tortured and shackled.

©Trustees of the British Museum
©Trustees of the British Museum

A young Wordsworth, not yet known to the world was so impressed by her poetry that he composed a poem called, "A Sonnet on Seeing Miss Helen Maria Williams Weep at a Tale of Distress" in her honour. She charmed Dr Samuel Johnson and was befriended by the famous Mrs Piozzi, formerly Mrs Thrale.

At the same time the family began to take French lessons from an emigre Madame du Fosse, whose husband had been locked up by lettre du cachet. They had married in secret, which had enraged the man's father due to her inferiority of birth and as a consequence had imprisoned his own son without trial.

Inspired by this tale of injustice and by the changes taking place in Paris, Helen Maria Williams, along with her sisters and mother visited France. Arriving in July 1790, they were just in time to witness the Fete de la Federation, an event where approximately 600,000 assembled in the Champs de Mars to see Louis XVI swearing an oath of allegiance to the new constitution. It was a marvellous spectacle that made a deep impression on Helen. She wrote, "had I not reached Paris at the moment I did reach it, I should have missed the most sublime spectacle, which, perhaps was ever represented on the theatre of this earth."
So delighted with the prospect of this new world order, Helen turned to prose to record events and published her accounts in London, entitled Letters Written in France. She described how every walk of life shared in the joy of this new regime and wrote a very positive report. An account that differed significantly from how events were recorded by the London papers.

At a time when it was generally considered that women could not comprehend politics let alone hold a political opinion, Helen had to be careful how she conveyed her liberal views.
Using a combination of anecdotes and eye witness accounts to support her liberal thinking she sought to make persuasive arguments in support of radical change. One of her most compelling stories was that of their former French tutor who was now happily restored to her husband in France under the new constitution.

Living in Paris allowed Helen to feel released from this restrictive view of women and she flourished in an atmosphere of equality holding a literary salon attended by many of the most eminent thinkers of the day.

This in itself was liberating and she began to make friends with political figures of the new regime, later known as Girondins. Although a disparate group this term distinguished them from the more radical members of the Convention who were soon to become more powerful.

Helen also became connected with a Welshman, John Hurford Stone. An interesting character in his own right he was also passionate about the liberal thinking that the French Revolution was embracing.

They became close despite the fact that John was still a married man, although separated.
When Helen briefly returned to England in the early summer of 1792 and visited her friend Mrs Piozzi with John in attendance her reception was a little colder than before.
Meanwhile back in France events had become more volatile leading in August to the annihilation of the Swiss Guard outside the Tuileries palace while defending the royal family. Living just beside the palace Helen was only a few minutes distant from where this tragedy unfolded. More and more of those who had been sympathetic in England began to turn away.

In London the press reported Helen as afterwards walking unconcerned through the dead bodies in the Tuileries Garden. This was far from the truth. Correspondence from England became less frequent and she became dangerously ill. Her sister Cecilia at this point wrote to her former friend Mrs Piozzi to advise her of Helen's illness. A letter eventually came back, with a cold response explaining her daughter had been ill and that Helen should be careful about the company she was keeping and accusing her of democratic fury.

©Trustees of the British Museum
©Trustees of the British Museum

Her ties with England had been broken. Her friends in Government weren't faring any better and in June 1793 a coup saw 21 of them rounded up, again in the Tuileries and falsely arrested. The Reign of Terror had begun in earnest.

One of the deputies, Barrere escaped and fled for sanctuary to Helen's apartement in a nearby street. Helen welcomed him in and when she heard of the unjust arrest of the others she avowed to publish an account to tell the truth. A risky step to take considering the turbulence of the times when even innocent people were sent to the guillotine.

A few months later and a decree meant all foreigners were also arrested and imprisoned. It was too late to escape. At 2am on 12th October soldiers came to the door and arrested Helen, her mother and sisters Cecilia and Persis.

They were taken to the Luxembourg Palace, now turned into a house of arrest where more and more prisoners were brought each day. There Helen was reunited with John who had been arrested with his wife a couple of days earlier.

Their stay in prison lasted only a few months and their release was thanks to the efforts of a cousin of the Du Fosse's who was in love with Helen's sister and aided by two poets, friends of Helen's. Upon their release Helen's sister married the Du Fosse's cousin, making her a French citizen and therefore removing the threat of arrest.

John divorced his wife and arranged passports for Helen and him to travel to Switzerland for greater safety, where they stayed briefly until it was safe to return to France.

John continued to live with Helen and her family in France until his death in 1818, although they never married or publicly confirmed they were a couple.

There are so many elements to Helen's story that I could mention and for me so many unanswered questions, I hope this brings parts of her story back to life.
As a mere eighteenth century fancier I have limited access to eighteenth century resources or time to devote to research. 
However, if I could follow new lines of enquiry I would investigate the following:
John Hurford Stone was one of 1,500 subscribers to Helen's book of poems in 1786, did they know each other before they lived in Paris?
How many copies did Helen's book sell when first published, what were the dates each volume was published and were copies only for sale in England?
What involvement did the poets have in the release of Helen and her family?
What were her mother and sisters like?
Sarah Agnew is an eighteenth century enthusiast, who has drafted a radio play based on Helen Maria Williams' story in the years 1790 - 3. She blogs about fabulous food and days out at http://www.modernbricabrac.com/ some with an eighteenth century connection, mostly in relation to Brighton and London.
She also tweets about food and days out at https://twitter.com/IrishAggers and posts photos of food and architecture on https://instagram.com/sarahagnew/.

Written content of this post copyright © Sarah Agnew, 2015.

Friday, 9 October 2015

Darkness and Light: Exploring the Gothic ‌‌

News of a wonderful exhibition at the John Rylands Library, Manchester!

‌‌Thursday, 16 July to Sunday, 20 December 2015

Housed in the neo-Gothic grandeur of The John Rylands Library, Darkness and Light reveals how Gothic architecture and anatomy inspired and influenced a literary genre, and how the lasting legacy of Gothic can be found in art, films and subculture today.
From the fantastical to the macabre, this intriguing exhibition unearths Gothic treasures from the Library’s Special Collections to investigate subjects as varied as the role of women in the Gothic movement, advances in medical science and classic literature.
Amongst the fascinating items on display is Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto (1764), the first Gothic novel. With a Gothic medieval castle, doomed love and restless spectres of the past, it sets the scene for the genre and sits alongside a whole host of Gothic bestsellers including The Monk, Udolpho and Jekyll and Hyde.
mysteries-of-udolpho-2.jpgThe booklet for this exhibition is available to download as either a PDF or as an accessible, plain text word document:
The exhibition also showcases artwork by students from the University of Salford and a gallery of photographic portraits of 'Goths', celebrating diversity and inviting visitors to explore what Gothic means to them.
Alongside the exhibition, experience a ghostly Gothic tour of the Library or come along to screenings of classic Gothic films, including FW Murnau’s Nosferatu, in the striking Historic Reading Room.
Join the conversation at #JRLGothic

Related Events

2pm-3pm Sunday, 11 October 2015
12noon-1pm Saturday, 7 November 2015
12noon-1pm Saturday, 5 December 2015

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Murder on the Thames... or was it?

Today we are joined by Liz Lloyd, who has a tale of terrible murder on the Thames... or was it?
Standing outside the Garden Museum in St Mary’s church, by the side of Lambeth Palace it can seem like a peaceful spot which time has forgotten but Lambeth has seen many dramatic changes reflecting the use of the river Thames.
Until the 18th century there were very few people living on the marshy land of Lambeth but the gently sloping beach was an ideal spot to keep boats and barges and soon the fishermen were joined by potteries, factories and saw mills.        
Most people adapted to the new industrial opportunities but the fishermen were severely affected by a rapid depletion in fish stocks.  Living in small cramped houses with sewage discharged directly onto the beach they were tempted to find less honest means of making a living.  Pretending to fish they would dredge for coals fallen from lighters or plunder the barges.  Their apprentices were often mistreated and trained to be thieves both on the river and on land. 

In 1823 the newspapers ran detailed accounts of a probable murder involving fishing apprentices.  Two gentlemen, Mr Smales, a respectable printer and stationer, and his friend, Mr Wilkinson set out from Blackfriars in a small “funny” boat at 9 pm on July 17th rowing towards Vauxhall Bridge.  At about 10 minutes to ten, when they were through the bridge towards the Spread Eagle at Millbank, 15 feet from the Middlesex side of the river, a skiff came alongside containing two young men.  One youth held the boats alongside each other while the other stole the older men’s jackets, which were lying in their boat.  Mr Smales tried to hit the thief with his oar but the other boat turned away so Wilkinson tried to jump across.  Falling into the river, he swam to the skiff and took hold of the gunwale.  At that point, according to Smales, both young men struck Wilkinson on the head with their sculls giving him several blows until he let go and sank down into the river.  Crying out, “Murder,” Smales tried to row towards his drowning friend but with one small scull and one longer oar the boat turned back on itself.
The scene was witnessed by John Rowan, a jack-in-the-water at the Spread Eagle.  His job was to attend at the dockside stairway to help secure boats. This was his testimony at the trial,
“I was on the causeway till ten minutes before ten o'clock, when the last boat went away; I was then standing at the water edge, about forty yards from the house; I took my stool to the house; and about five minutes past ten I heard cries of Murder! - I got out of a boat's head, in which I was laying, but did not attend to the cry, till I heard it a second time - I heard a guggling; I knew then it was somebody drowning; I ran to the house, and as I ascended the stairs, I heard the guggling a second time - I called the waiter - he came instantly with me to the causeway, got into a gentleman's boat, and before we took twenty strokes, we came alongside of a boat, with Mr. Smales standing up in it - he put his hands together, and said, "My friend is gone!"
The perpetrators of the crime might never have been discovered had it not been for a tip off by Kitley, a fellow fisherman’s apprentice.  To ensure he was not under suspicion he suggested that the constables visit a costermonger, Robert Gare, who might have information about the stolen coats.  At first Gare denied all knowledge of the incident but after the officers found one of the coats hidden under ashes in the dustbins at Gare’s mother’s house, he admitted that William Brown, a young apprentice, whom he had known at school, had asked him to look after the coat.  Kitley also gave information about the other stolen jacket which was found in a barge's head at Robert Talbot's premises at Fore Street, Lambeth, under the head sheets.

They soon identified the other youth as William Kennedy and the two young men were brought to trial at the Old Bailey, indicted for the wilful murder of William Wilkinson.  Mr Bodkin, conducting the prosecution used the testimony of James Kitley to incriminate the accused.
“I was employed in the barge, Hieron, which was under repair at Lambeth; I know both the prisoners - Kennedy had been sleeping on board that barge for some time before the 17th; on Tuesday, the 17th, about ten o'clock, I think, but cannot tell, as I never looked at the clock, Kennedy came to me for the key - my barge laid about a mile and a quarter from the Spread Eagle; he appeared to me to be in a muck sweat I told him I was going myself directly, but he pressed me to give him the key - I did, and he went towards the barge by himself - I went myself in less than half an hour, and slept on board that night.  I did not see Kennedy when I went into the cabin, but he must have been there, for he got up with me in the morning, and he and I, went to a beer-shop kept by Bean; I asked Bean's son for a light.  Kennedy pulled out some papers and a book out of his pocket - he tore some of the papers, saying he wanted to burn them, and I tore some of them, not knowing what they were; the pieces were thrown into the grate of the room we were in. Flack lighted his pipe, and threw the paper which he lighted it with into the grate, and the papers caught fire; I cannot say whether they were partly or entirely burnt - I was going out in about an hour, when the officers came and took Kennedy into custody; they afterwards called me - I went to them, and went before the Magistrate with them, and after we had been before the Magistrate, Kennedy told me, that he and Brown were guilty.  We were all in custody under suspicion at the time, but Kennedy said we need not fear, for he would turn us up - he told me he had put one of the coats in a barge at the back of a barge-builder's place, but the barge-builder had moved away; I informed a gentleman at the office of it and I described where the barge was.”
Unburnt sheets from the pocket-book were handed over to the Thames police and Mr Smales identified his friend’s handwriting.
Further evidence was given that Brown and Kennedy had been seen nearby shortly before a skiff was stolen from Moore’s boat builders in Lambeth that night.
Both William Brown and William Kennedy confessed to stealing the coats from the boat but denied the murder of William Wilkinson.  Five witnesses gave Kennedy a good character.  The judgement was that both men were guilty and they were condemned to death but were later respited during His Majesty's pleasure.  Meanwhile two young apprentices made a violent attack on Thomas and Elizabeth Woodcock, William Kennedy’s Master and his wife, in their house in Fore Street, Lambeth, maintaining they had badly mistreated their apprentice and a mob burnt an effigy of the couple on the street.  The jury who had tried Brown and Kennedy were not convinced that the young men had even injured Wilkinson so they drew up a petition against their death penalty, resulting in commutation of the punishment.  There were many letters in the newspapers both condemning the harsh sentence and maintaining it should be carried out but finally Brown and Kennedy were reprieved.

About the Author
Liz writes and researches social and family history and is a volunteer at The Spike, the old workhouse in Guildford.

Written content of this post copyright © Liz Lloyd, 2015.

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

A Ghost at Bermondsey

As Halloween approaches, I continue to dip into the archives in search of tales of terror... 

This time we find ourselves in 1830, on 8th July, to be exact, where The Morning Post brings us the story of a murder victim who returned from the grave to terrify the people of Bermondsey... can the police save the day?

Ghost, Luo Ping
Ghost by Luo Ping


During the last week the neighbourhood of Grange-road, Bermondsey, has been in a considerable state of excitement, in consequence of a report that a ghost was to be seen nightly traversing the empty rooms of the house lately occupied by the Rev. Dr. RIPPON, and adjoining that of Dr. STERRY.  The report had its origin in the story of an old woman who was murdered in that house about 12 years ago, and who, it is said, has now returned in her grim and ghastly form. Whether the murder be a fact or not, certain it is that it is not only generally believed, but with credulous persons the ghostly results are not less so.  So much alarm has this supposed supernatural appearance created in some minds, that they could not be prevailed upon to leave their homes after dusk; while others (and not a few of notorious pickpockets, who deemed it not an unprofitable speculation to mix in the motley group and encourage the idle story) assembled every evening around this haunted dwelling, to gratify their foolish curiosity. It was found at last necessary to apply to the parish officers upon the subject; and Mr. WHEELER, the parish clerk, accompanied by three of the new police, broke open the door, and dauntlessly pressed forward through every hole and corner of the building from the cellar to the attic, not forgetting chimney and cupboards, in search of this spectral visitant arrayed in deathly white; but no such ethereal spirit could be seen. The result of their labours was communicated to the populace without, whose fears seemed to be somewhat allayed, but which did not materially abate until it was decided that one of the new policemen should sleep upon the premises, in order to guard against a recurrence of such intrusions. This decision has had the beneficial effect of removing the fears of the neighbourhood.


Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Byron, Rebellion, and the Greeks!

It is a pleasure to welcome Caroline Warfield back to the salon today to share the tale of Byron, Rebellion, and the Greeks! Not only that, but Caroline will give a Kindle copy of the winner’s choice of Dangerous Works or Dangerous Secrets to one randomly selected person who comments. The winner will be chosen on 14th October!


Nature abhors a vacuum. The maxim, first postulated by a physicist, Parmenides, in the fifth century BC, is a truism that has been quoted over and over. If nature abhors a vacuum, politics hates it more. Remove great power from a country or region and a dozen smaller forces will flood in vying for power. Witness the current situation in the Middle East.

Napoleon’s rule, once ended, left behind the seeds of rebellion and power vacuums across Europe. One of the first open rebellions, the Greek Revolution, broke out into warfare in 1821 after simmering for years. What were the issues and why on earth was Lord Byron involved? The answers are complicated, colorful, and not always as romantic as they sound, as I discovered researching background for Dangerous Weakness.

Lord Byron at Missolonghi by Theodoros Vryzakis, 1861
Lord Byron at Missolonghi by Theodoros Vryzakis, 1861

In 1821 the Ottoman Empire ruled what we now call Greece, except for the Ionian Islands along the western coast of the Peloponnesian mainland, which were a British protectorate from 1815 to 1864. There was, in fact, no actual governmental entity known as “Greece” or “Hellas” at that time. There was instead a loose group of provinces with large numbers of Greek-speaking people. Among the forces at work in the region were a weakening of imperial administrative control, the spread of western republican ideas, and the influence of the Greek Orthodox Church, which had been a major factor in the preservation of language and culture. Economics played a part also.

There were a number of attempts at rebellion, but the date for the start of the revolution is generally given as March 21, 1821 when revolts broke out in several different places. The rebels managed to take and hold the Peloponnese, the peninsula to the southwest of the Isthmus of Corinth in modern Greece, which in ancient times was dominated by Sparta. They set up a provisional government. Ten long messy years followed before the Sultan recognized Greek independence and the provisional government in 1832. Internal dissention, factions fostered by European powers, and massacres and betrayal by all sides contributed to the drawn out struggle.

Popular support for Greece ran high in some segments of the classically educated British upper/intellectual classes early on. Romantic notions about ancient Greece certainly contributed. The notable figure is, of course, Lord Byron. There is no doubt he knew his history of the Peloponnesian and Persian Wars, of Pericles and of Themistocles and Salamis. He wrote:

 I dream'd that Greece might still be free;
For standing on the Persians' grave,
I could not deem myself a slave.

Lord Byron on his Death-bed by Joseph Denis Odevaere, circa 1826
Lord Byron on his Death-bed by Joseph Denis Odevaere, circa 1826

It is tempting to dismiss Byron as an effete romantic who wandered over to Greece, sickened and died. In truth he had a long history of support for social reform and national independence causes. He gave £4,000 of his own money to refit a Greek navy. He joined Alexandros Mavrokordatos, a Greek political and military leader sympathetic to Britain and participated in arming and training troops he planned to lead himself in a planned attack on Lepanto. Before he could do so, he died at Missolonghi. His death, most likely hastened by the questionable practice of bleeding, touched off mourning in both England and Greece.

Lord Byron on his Death-bed by Joseph Denis Odevaere, circa 1826
The Byron Memorial at Missolonghi,
By Fingalo

Where was the British Government in all this? Initially it discouraged the revolt. They last thing Britain wanted was the rise revolutionary governments on the continent. In 1820, however, Britain’s primary concern was not so much the rights of the Ottomans, or even fear of radicalism, but Russian expansionism. Revolution meant opportunity for Russia. Eventually, popular support for Greece—possibly exacerbated by Byron’s death—and the pragmatic need to thwart Russian influence led to support for Greek Independence. Note that the same pragmatic concern would lead it to support the Ottoman side in Crimea twenty years later, again to thwart Russia.

Britain began to intervene on the side of Greece after the Treaty of London in 1827.  The Ottoman Empire, believing in its own superior navy declined to support the treaty. The combined efforts of the European powers effectively destroyed the Ottoman navy in Battle of  Navarino, but the war continued for five more years. The Treaty of Constantinople gave Greece the victory in 1832. Byron would have celebrated.

For more information see:

Revolution in Greece

Byron and Greece

The Eastern Question in General

And my own interest in the subject

About Dangerous Weakness

If women were as easily managed as the affairs of state—or the recalcitrant Ottoman Empire—Richard Hayden, Marquess of Glenaire, would be a happier man. As it was the creatures—one woman in particular—made hash of his well-laid plans and bedeviled him on all sides.

Lily Thornton came home from Saint Petersburg in pursuit of marriage. She wants a husband and a partner, not an overbearing, managing man. She may be “the least likely candidate to be Marchioness of Glenaire,” but her problems are her own to fix, even if those problems include both a Russian villain and an interfering Ottoman official.

Given enough facts, Richard can fix anything. But protecting that impossible woman is proving almost as hard as protecting his heart, especially when Lily’s problems bring her dangerously close to an Ottoman revolution. As Lily’s personal problems entangle with Richard’s professional ones, and she pits her will against his, he chases her across the pirate-infested Mediterranean. Will she discover surrender isn’t defeat? That might even have its own sweet reward.

Buy Links:

Read an Extract

“We will marry of course,” he told her. “Quickly, but not so abruptly as to cause comments.” He walked toward the door, expecting her to follow.
“I beg your pardon,” she called out to him. “We will what?”
He turned on his heel. “Miss Thornton, you will be the Marchioness of Glenaire. That is far from ideal, and the difference in our state will no doubt cause talk. We will have to endure it.”
“Why?” she demanded. “Why this ‘far from ideal’ demand? Has Lady Sarah refused you?”
“Don’t be coy, Miss Thornton. You have led me into folly at every step. After last night I have no choice. I shall have to marry you. My family—”
“Your family would have kittens if I married you, which I will not.”
“You have respectable, if not the highest, breeding, you will show to advantage when properly dressed, and you will do well as a diplomatic hostess. My family, I was going to say, will have to deal with it.” He stalked away. “So will you.”
“I will not,” Lily shouted after him.

About the Author

Caroline Warfield has at various times been an army brat, a librarian, a poet, a raiser of children, a nun, a bird watcher, an Internet and Web services manager, a conference speaker, an indexer, a tech writer, a genealogist, and, of course, a romantic. She has sailed through the English channel while it was still mined from WWII, stood on the walls of Troy, searched Scotland for the location of an entirely fictional castle (and found it), climbed the steps to the Parthenon, floated down the Thames from the Tower to Greenwich, shopped in the Ginza, lost herself in the Louvre, gone on a night safari at the Singapore zoo, walked in the Black Forest, and explored the underground cistern of Istanbul. By far the biggest adventure has been life-long marriage to a prince among men.

She sits in front of a keyboard at a desk surrounded by windows, looks out at the trees and imagines. Her greatest joy is when one of those imaginings comes to life on the page and in the imagination of her readers.

Find Caroline on:

Written content of this post copyright © Caroline Warfield, 2015.

Monday, 5 October 2015

An Evening with Jane Austen

I'm enormously chuffed to announce my involvement in a theatrical venture today as An Evening with Jane Austen finds a home here at the salon!

There is, of course, a story to tell...

Regular visitors to the salon will know that I recently took a trip to Godmersham Park to see Adrian Lukis, who some of you might know as a certain Mr Wickham, and Caroline Langrishe perform their show, An Evening with Jane Austen, with music and songs courtesy of Camilla Pay and Rosie Lomas. The show combines period music and song with readings from Jane Austen's works, encompassing romance, tragedy and a generous sprinkling of humour. To spend an evening at Godmersham listening to Jane's words being brought so vividly to life was a wonderful experience and one that I shan't forget in a hurry. 

That same evening, in the very library where Jane Austen once settled down to work, Adrian and I hatched a scheme to give An Evening with Jane Austen a permanent berth at the Guide. As well as clips from the show, the new pages offer a chance to meet the performers, read some reviews of past performances and keep up to date with future events. 

I do hope you will take a look around the new pages and if you have any suggestions for sites of historical interest that might make suitable hosts for a performance, do get in touch, we'd love to hear from you!