Thursday, 28 April 2016

Joseph Gales, James Montgomery and the Poems that Stood up for Sheffield

I'm thrilled to welcome salon favourite Dr Adam Smith once again, with the tale of Joseph Gales, James Montgomery and the Poems that Stood up for Sheffield


In the final years of the 18th century the editors of two of Sheffield most radical newspapers put everything on the line to stand up for the citizens of Britain’s steel city. 
Written content of this post copyright © Janet Todd, 2016.

Fearing that the actions of their monarchy and government represented a shift towards tyranny and a general lack of interest in the welfare of British citizens outside of London, Joseph Gales and James Montgomery took to the press to hold their government to account. 
Iris full page
In the pages of the Sheffield Register (1787-1794) and the Sheffield Iris (1794-1825) Gales and Montgomery campaigned for fair treatment from local and national authorities whilst also ensuring that all Sheffield citizens were aware of their rights and constitutional entitlements. 
As Gales himself stated in his final editorial, it was his paper’s ambition to ‘rescue my Countrymen from the darkness of ignorance and to awaken them to a sense of their privileges as human beings, and, as such, of their importance in the grand scale of creation.’ More than anything else, Gales wanted to prove to his readers that their city mattered and that they deserved the respect and representation of their country’s leaders. 
Writing under the close scrutiny of suspicious local authorities at a time of intense censorship both the Register and the Iris presented their most controversial material in verse rather than prose. In a section referred to affectionately by contemporary readers as ‘Poetry Corner’, Gales and Montgomery provided a platform from local protest poets to express in incredible detail the attitudes and anxieties of their time. Reoccurring themes included the need for universal political representation and access to education, racial and religious equality, the abolition of slavery and the importance of worker’s rights. 
Ironically, an overarching concern across many of these poems was that the freedom of the press might be in jeopardy. These poems regularly asserted that if the government could not legally be criticized then there remained no safe-guard against tyranny. As one reader contributed in April 1793, this seemed to be increasingly the case:
We may speak (it is true) if we mind what we say;
But to speak all we think, will not suit in our day:

These lines proved prophetic, with the Register coming to an abrupt close just a few months later. Charged with ‘conspiracy against the government’ Gales was forced to abandon the paper to start a new life in America as a fugitive. 
Fortunately, within three months the paper would be re-founded by the young James Montgomery as the Sheffield Iris. As a teenager Montgomery had fled from Scotland upon discovering that his parents aspired to move abroad and work as religious missionaries. He had intended to get to London and pursue a career as a poet, but after getting stranded in Rotherham he decided to apply for a job at the Register instead. 
As a close friend of Gales and an acolyte of the Register’s politics, Montgomery worked fast and hard to rally funds and support for a new paper, the Sheffield Iris. This new paper would position itself as an explicit continuation of the Register’s ethos and vision.  And for this Montgomery was twice sent to prison for publishing allegedly treasonous material. 
In 1795 Montgomery was hauled in front of a jury in Doncaster for printing and distributing a poem in support of France, Britain’s enemies at the time. Montgomery’s lawyer proved that not only did Montgomery have no knowledge of the poem in question, but that it had actually been written ten years previously. Remarkably, Montgomery was still found guilty and sent to a prison in York.
Within 18 months of his release he would find himself back in that prison, this time for reporting that British soldiers had charged down a group of unarmed protesters in Sheffield. On the eve of this second trial Montgomery wrote to his close friend, local author John Aston, lamenting that it didn’t matter how strong a defence he presented, “the prosecution is levelled against the Iris; they are determined to crush it” [‘Letter to Joseph Aston’, Sheffield Archives: SLPS/37 (1) 4 (B)]. 
Montgomery Monument
Montgomery Monument
Sadly, the persecution of Montgomery was little more than history repeating, his sentiments recalling the final to be penned by his former mentor in the final editorial of the Sheffield Register: ‘It is, in these persecuting days, a sufficient crime to have printed a newspaper which has so boldly dared to doubt the infallibility of ministers, and to investigate the justice and policy of their measures.’ 
The evolution of Gales’ and Montgomery’s ‘Poetry Corner’ across both the Register and the Iris is currently the subject of a AHRC-funded Cultural Engagement Project in the School of English at the University of Sheffield.
Directed by Dr Hamish Mathison and researched by Dr Adam Smith, the project will produced a freely-accessibly and newly edited digital anthology, due to arrive online on 27 May 2016. In the meantime the project is counting down to this launch by releasing a newly-edited poem every Monday.
Crucially this project is able to give these poems - written by Sheffield residents three centuries ago a second life - free of the constraints of 18th-century serial publications and allowed to speak for themselves for the very first time.
Visit the project website: 
Follow the project on social medial: 
Book for our launch event, ‘Sheffield: City of Protest’:

Written content of this post copyright © Adam Smith, 2016.

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

The Tragic Tragedian: William Brereton of Drury Lane

It's my pleasure to welcome Margaret Porter to the salon today with the tale of the tragic tragedian: William Brereton of Drury Lane!


Lo, Brereton comes—to his feelings a prey,
To damp our enjoyments, and darken our day;
The hand of disease has laid waste his weak mind,
To shew her great triumph o’er worth and mankind!
When lofty ambition his pray’r had enied, 
His senses were madden’d, his reason had died.
The Children of Thespis

William Brereton by Walton
William Brereton by Walton
William Brereton’s origins in no way hinted at the tragic fate awaiting him. He was born at Bath in 1751, the youngest son of Marion Edmonston and Major William Brereton, from a County Carlow family. For a time Master of Ceremonies of Bath’s Lower Assembly Rooms, the elder Brereton was a social fixture—gentlemanly, elegant, and handsome. Because of its popularity as a spa, the city’s Orchard Street Theatre attracted a sophisticated and fashionable audience, and there young William Brereton’s theatrical aspirations must have been born.

His father’s friend David Garrick, the eminent actor of the age, was dedicated to training youthful performers and prepared Brereton for the stage before employing him. At seventeen he made his debut at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane in the title role of Douglas, billed as “A young gentleman.” He was variously described as “a pretty figure,” but also as exhibiting a vulgarity unsuited to “the parts of cavaliers or men of fashion.” Nevertheless, Garrick consistently cast him, as did Richard Sheridan after succeeded him as the theatre’s manager.
Priscilla Hopkins as Selima
Priscilla Hopkins as Selima

Eventually Brereton’s eye landed on pretty, petite Priscilla Hopkins. Seven years his junior, she was the younger daughter of the theatre’s prompter--Garrick’s close associate—and an experienced Drury Lane actress. In girlhood Priscilla entered the family business and later created the role of Maria in Sheridan’s The School for Scandal. Was Brereton trifling with her, or was he serious? Gossip reported that Priscilla had to “follow him to Bath” in 1777 to conclude their engagement, but her status within the Drury Lane company required her to go there for the summer season.

After a performance of Garrick’s play Bon Ton, the couple ran away together—Priscilla still dressed in her costume. Doubtless her parents and Garrick opposed the match. After the couple’s elopement and the ensuing scandal, marriage was a necessity. A month later, in London, Priscilla became William Brereton’s wife, yet for the remainder of the season she appeared on playbills as “Miss P. Hopkins”.

Whatever sentiment prompted their union, five years later it was threatened by a player more talented than either of them.  After distinguishing herself in the provinces and at Bath, Sarah Siddons was engaged at Drury Lane, and from 1782 onwards she claimed most of the meatiest female roles. One was Belvidera in Otway’s Venice Preserved, in which Brereton played Jaffier. The Morning Post reported, “When she reminded Jaffier of the hour when they were to meet, she said, ‘Remember twelve,’ with such a delicate glow of conjugal affection in her look, and at the same time, in such a heart-searching tone of voice that she absolutely threw most of her auditors into tears.”

In this and other parts the powerful actress roused in Brereton an unexpected, hitherto undetected brilliance. Their partnership in the popular tragedies became a sensation. Unfortunately, Brereton’s fascination with Siddons was not restricted to their professional life, and his infatuation with her brought about his downfall. Signs of mental instability emerged, compounded by excessive drinking. At least once he attempted suicide, evidently from his unrequited passion for the great Sarah.

In the summer of 1784 Brereton and Siddons performed together at Dublin’s Smock Alley theatre, with dire consequences. She refused to perform in his benefit without compensation, which in itself was contrary to custom. Agreeing to charge him £20 for the night instead of her usual £30, she subsequently pleaded illness. Her behaviour towards him prompted public scandal and private outrage, and was widely regarded as proof of her reputed stinginess. Theatre-goers on both sides of the Irish Sea felt that Brereton had been mistreated.
Sarah Siddons in 1784
Sarah Siddons in 1784
The players returned to London for the start of theatrical season, and on 5 October, they resumed their usual roles in a production of The Gamester. The play opened with Priscilla—in Londoners’ eyes a wronged wife—on the stage. When Siddons entered the scene the audience hissed her loudly, and the uproar delayed the play for some forty minutes. Siddons later recalled being “received with hissing and hooting, and stood the object of public scorn. Amid this afflicting clamour I made several attempts to be heard…my dear brother [Kemble] appeared, and carried me away from this scene of insult. The instant I quitted it, I fainted in his arms.” 

Kemble, Sheridan, and her husband urged her to resume her performance. She did so, mustering all her dramatic skills to mount a defence, declaring, “Ladies and gentlemen…the stories which have circulated about me are calumnies.”

Betsy Sheridan, sister of the manager-playwright, wrote in her diary:

She seems hurt to the soul but her feelings seem more of the indignant kind than any other. The Breretons have used her shockingly—Mrs B. was mean enough to sneak off the stage and leave her to stand the insults of a malicious party tho’ she knew the whole disturbance was on her account and that her husband had at least been obliged to contradict the reports that concerned him.

Brereton had published a letter of exoneration in London papers, but reading between the lines it can be seen as confirmation of what had occurred at Smock Alley. Understandably, the following summer he and Priscilla preferred to act in Brighton rather than Dublin. Increasingly unpredictable and erratic on stage and off, he forgot his lines, misbehaved in scenes with Priscilla, walked off during a performance, and threw rocks at a magistrate’s carriage.
John Philip Kemble
John Philip Kemble 

Surprisingly, he was employed the following season at Drury Lane. On 2 November he appeared opposite Siddons—perhaps the strain of it affected him, because the next night proved to be his final performance. Thirteen days later he suffered a relapse—reports circulated that he’d tried to strangle Priscilla. Tied in a straightjacket, he was taken from their house near the Strand and confined in a private home in Blackheath. His copious weeping on being separated from his wife indicates that despite all he remained deeply attached to her.

Eventually he was transferred to the Hoxton lunatic asylum, and descended deeper into madness. He was “in so nervous a state, that he can scarcely utter a sentence.” When his attendants encouraged him to talk of his stage career, “he would mention the name of Mrs Siddons, and sometimes of a picture he wished to have had drawn of her and himself.” He died on 17 February, 1787, at only 36 years, and was laid to rest in Shoreditch. 

Drury Lane Theatre
Drury Lane Theatre

Eight months later Priscilla received an unexpected proposal of marriage from John Philip Kemble, the great actor, tipped as the next manager of Drury Lane—and brother of the women who contributed to poor Brereton’s breakdown. The widow wed Kemble on 8 December, 1787, a marriage of convenience for each. Nearly a decade afterwards Priscilla left the stage, appearing in society with her increasingly prominent second husband. She outlived Kemble by many years, and died in 1845, aged 87.

About the Author

APledgeofBetterTimesCoverMargaret Porter is the bestselling and award-winning author of A Pledge of Better Times, a biographical novel of the late Stuart court, and eleven other works—several with theatrical settings. Her novel-in-progress features Priscilla Hopkins Brereton Kemble as a primary character. 

From childhood Margaret performed on stage and trained as an actress, in addition to studying British social history in the U.K. Prior to earning her M.A., she worked in theatre, film and television. 

As historian, her areas of speciality are theatrical and garden history of the 17th and 18th centuries, royal courts, and portraiture. When not writing, researching, or travelling round Britain and other lands, she tends gardens filled with heritage roses. She also plays the mandolin.

Written content of this post copyright © Margaret Porter, 2016.

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Reimagining the Gothic

Reimagining the Gothic: Event Announcement
Calling all Goths! “Reimagining the Gothic 2016: Monsters and Monstrosities,” a two day Symposium and Showcase event, will be taking place at the University of Sheffield on May 6th & 7th
“Reimagining the Gothic”
“Reimagining the Gothic” is an ongoing project, conceived and implemented by postgraduate students at the University of Sheffield, which seeks to explore how the Gothic can be re-read, re-analyzed, and re-imagined.  We encourage both public interest and new academic avenues from students and scholars who wish to pursue and explore interdisciplinary and creative Gothic projects. In particular, 'monsters' and the ways in which monstrosity affects Gothic discourses are important potential spaces for academic and creative exploration. With “Reimagining the Gothic: Monsters and Monstrosities” we hope to reconsider notions of monstrousness, to explore how the idea of the monster has morphed over the decades, and to question its place within the Gothic. 
The academic Symposium will take place from 9 am - 6 pm in the Portobello Centre at the University of Sheffield, and will feature a series of academic papers and presentations on reimagining Gothic studies. This event is free but registration is required. Those interested in attending the symposium should fill out a registration form, downloadable as a PDF file here: REGISTRATION FORM
There are a limited number of seats available for the symposium so the numbers will be capped and attendance will be moderated on a first come, first served basis. Spaces for the conference dinner are now full, so that section may be left blank on the form. Please do not delay! Email your completed registration form to today!
“Reimagining the Gothic”
The Showcase event will take place at the Humanities Research Institute at the University of Sheffield. The doors open at 10 am, and all are invited to come throughout the day and view the creative Gothic projects on display. There will be mini-presentations, interactive displays, games and projects for children, a charity nail bar, and nibbles. The event will end with a wine reception and talk from our keynote speaker Dr. Xavier Aldana Reyes, a Senior Lecturer in English Literature and Film at Manchester Metropolitan University and a member of the Manchester Centre for Gothic Studies. Dr. Reyes' paper is entitled: “Rethinking the Monstrous-Feminine: The (Un)Gendered Body of Abjection.” 
Both the showcase event and the keynote talk are free and open to all, and no registration is required. We invite everyone to come and experience the wonderful papers and projects presented by our delegates, and hopefully discover new ways of ‘reimagining’ the Gothic!

Have questions or concerns? Email us at or follow us on twitter at @TheReimagining and @SheffieldGothic

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Researching the Regency

It's my pleasure to welcome Zoe Burton to the salon today, to discuss her research of the Regency!


Thank you for having me today!

I am a relatively new author, having self-published my first book in August of 2014. I have always enjoyed reading Regency romances, and when I discovered first Jane Austen (though I would not classify her works as romantic, necessarily) and then Jane Austen Fan Fiction, I thought I had died and gone to heaven! Then, a horrible thing happened. I ran out of things to read! I had read every story I could find, many of them multiple times, and had no new material. So, I began to write, and as I started talking to other authors I learned just how important it is to get the historical details right!

Zoe Burton
In the past two years or so, I have accumulated a large number of bookmarked sites. Everything from Old Bailey records to Debrett’s to the Online Etymology Dictionary has a placeholder in my browser. I have learned more than I ever thought possible about Regency houses (bought an actual book about those), and servants, and travel. I do have to say, though, that the research is often just as interesting as the story I am writing, and I strive to get as many details correct as I possibly can. Which is a very good thing, because one of my other lessons to learn was that readers will often complain if you mess it up. 

Of course, I do have that pesky rebellious streak that likes to tweak the nose of propriety now and again. I’m sure my mother is rolling her eyes in heaven about that. (Love ya, Ma!)

I think my book, Decisions and Consequences, is a perfect example of the way I try to balance my wild side with proper Regency behavior. In this story, Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet marry before they truly fall in love. As a matter of fact, they are just starting to really like each other. They do, however, soon succumb to Cupid’s arrow and are just beginning their life together when George Wickham leaps into what he thinks is a carriage containing only Elizabeth. Darcy is there, and both he and his wife are injured, Elizabeth worse than her husband. Darcy insists on helping care for her, and Elizabeth’s sister Mary helps take care of the pair of them as they recover. I explained Mary’s knowledge of married couples sharing a room in a way that made it seem normal to her that Darcy and Elizabeth do, knowing that not only is this not something that a nineteen-year-old gentlewoman was supposed to be aware of, but propriety also states that couples sleep in separate rooms. I did bow to proper behavior, though, by not allowing Georgiana to be in the bedroom with Elizabeth when her brother was there, and by having her read to them from just inside the adjoining sitting room in a position where she could not see. Then, she could help in her own way but not have her maidenly sensibilities offended. I must have done well with it, for I have heard no complaints! ☺

I am grateful to the beta readers and writer friends who have steered me to the many resources I use on a daily basis. I enjoy the feeling of satisfaction I get from knowing I have gotten the details as correct as I can.

Thanks again for allowing me to share a little about my Regency research and my book!

Decisions and Consequences can be found in print and ebook at both Amazon and Barnes & Noble Online, and in ebook at Kobo, Inkterra, Itunes, and 24Symbols
Written content of this post copyright © Zoe Burton, 2016.

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Reigning Men: Fashion in Menswear, 1715–2015

Beginning with the eighteenth century, the male aristocrat wore a three-piece suit conspicuous in make and style, and equally as lavish as the opulent dress of his female counterpart. The nineteenth-century ‘dandy’ made famous a more refined brand of expensive elegance which became the hallmark of Savile Row. The mid-twentieth-century ‘mod’ relished in the colorful and modern styles of Carnaby Street, and the twenty-first century man—in an ultra-chic ‘skinny suit’ by day and a flowered tuxedo by night—redefines today’s concept of masculinity.
The Macaroni ensemble: Man’s Three-piece Suit, ca. 1770. Sword with Chatelaine, late 18th century. Men’s Pair of Shoe Buckles, late 18th century (LACMA)
The Macaroni ensemble (LACMA)
Drawing primarily from LACMA’s renowned permanent collection, Reigning Men makes illuminating connections between history and high fashion. The exhibition traces cultural influences over the centuries, examines how elements of the uniform have profoundly shaped fashionable dress, and reveals how cinching and padding the body was, and is, not exclusive to women. The exhibition features 200 looks, and celebrates a rich history of restraint and resplendence. 
This exhibition was organized by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and made possible by Ellen A. Michelson. Additional support is provided by the Wallis Annenberg Director’s Endowment Fund.

Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 10 April — 21 August 2016
Powerhouse Museum, Sydney, 3 December 2016 — 12 March 2017

Saint Louis Art Museum, 25 May — 17 September 2017

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

A Man of Genius

It's my pleasure to welcome Janet Todd to the salon today; as author of A Man of Genius, Janet is well placed to discuss the role of the genius in the world of Gothic literature.


A Man of Genius 1
My novel A Man of Genius  is set in the early years of the nineteenth century, with characters looking back to their youth in the turbulent and radical 1790s.  This historical location in the Regency period gives a particular cast and intensity to my central subject: the problem of fatal attraction or romantic addiction.  For these are the years when the Genius as a cult figure and focus of female obsession was invented and gained cultural traction.   To see evidence of this, it's necessary only to look at the women in the lives of Lord Byron and Percy Bysshe Shelley.
That the 'genius' is predominantly male is clear from the example of Byron's contemporary, Jane Austen. She well knew her worth and in many ways she was a professional writer. But she never claimed the status of 'genius' or was regarded as such by her family or contemporary readers, however much they admired her skill. 
I am a huge fan (as well as editor and critic) of Jane Austen, who is to me the supreme novelist of this era.  But my own creative bent is towards the Gothic, towards the splendid Mrs Radcliffe, author of The Mysteries of Udolpho,  and the legion of hack writers, very often women, writing in her mode and in her shadow. 
A Man of Genius 2
I have made my main character, Ann, one of these jobbing writers who churned out variations on the Gothic motifs for the circulating libraries and popular presses such as the Minerva Press.  It gave her a reasonable living and an independence. From childhood onward, Ann is entranced by Gothic fictions and the stories of entrapment, coercion and pursuit.  
However, she never expects to live them in real life.
The male anti- hero of my novel is admired as a Romantic genius both by himself and by his male followers--and certainly in the beginning by Ann, whose distorted childhood memories fit her for her adult obsession.  The book investigates what happens when the man's self-belief begins to falter and he looks outside to apportion blame, and when the loving woman starts to see the object of her adoration as unworthy, yet still feels as trapped as ever by her obsession. 
The background of A Man of Genius is Regency England, ruled over by the debauched Prince Regent, whose persecution of his unwanted and rather louche wife, Princess Caroline  of Brunswick, entertains all of Europe. With the end of the long Napoleonic Wars  (1815) that grew out of the French Revolution (1789), the old order of kings and aristocrat was re-established throughout the Continent and people of liberal and radical persuasion in England found themselves profoundly at odds with the times, with their government and with the new conservative culture.  
A Man of Genius 3

A Man of Genius 4
Two glamorous cities form the geographical locations of my story.  London in victorious Britain, and Venice, defeated and annexed by Austria. London is bustling, the capital now of the most powerful European state, with a vast overseas empire. But it has many disgruntled citizens  whose hopes of political and social reform have been dashed during the long French and Napoleonic wars. The government keeps a firm eye on such people, including likely agitators from a crushed Ireland. So it is reasonable that my disaffected characters, several of whom are Irish, suspect surveillance. 
My protagonists travel to Venice, where for a time Princess Caroline also (scandalously) stayed. and of course Lord Byron. Venice had a long independent history of 1000 years as an oligarchic republic. It provided popes and grandees for much if Italy and was home to celebrated artists such as Tintoretto, Veronese and Titian. Over the years it had become a rich naval and commercial state with an empire around the Adriatic sea. By the late eighteenth century, however,  its power and influence had much diminished and in 1797 the city fell to Napoleon, the conqueror, without much of a fight. The following year Napoleon gave it to his then allies, the Austrians. In 1805 it was back with Napoleon and in 1814 returned to Austria as part of the spoils of the long war.  In 1819 when  my characters arrive in Venice, the city, so famed for elegance and art, is dilapidated, though its irrepressible inhabitants are still  exuberant and stylish. Some accept Austrian 'improvements' to their city, others plot in the shadows.
A Man of Genius 5
Although Byron is mentioned in the book, this is not at all about historical characters. My central male figure is not Byron or Shelley--but I have taken some faint hints from the biography I wrote of Mary Shelley and her sister Fanny (Death and the Maidens) and their difficult relationship to Percy Bysshe.

About the Author
Janet Todd has taught literature in Ghana, the US and Britain. She is now Professor Emerita of the University of Aberdeen, a former President of Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge, and an Honorary Fellow of Newnham College. She is the author of many biographies, critical works, and editions,  her most recent books being the Cambridge Introduction to Jane Austen and Jane Austen: Her Life, Her Times, Her Novels.  A Man of Genius is her first original novel.

Written content of this post copyright © Janet Todd, 2016.

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in Regency England

It's my pleasure to welcome Diane Dario, author of The Rake's Redemption, with a glimpse into Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in Regency England.


While researching for my debut novella The Rake’s Redemption, I stumbled upon PTSD and thought my hero, Pierce Mortimer, just returning from the Napoleonic wars, most likely had suffered this illness on his return home.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, in Regency England, they would not have had the name or medical understanding that we have today. It was not until World War I that they termed the condition shell shock.

Research on the condition of PTSD in the 18th century has meant significant digging and piecing together information given to them in bits and pieces. Suffering with PTSD could lead one to re-experiencing experiences through recollections, dreams or acting as if the event is still going on.

PTSD is not limited to just re-experiencing. There are many pieces of the puzzle. There could be attempts to numb or avoid the topic of what he experiences with copious amounts of alcohol. There would be outburst or anger or one might have difficulty in social situations.

The Napoleonic wars were long and drawn out and it is not inconceivable that soldiers did not return with PTSD. They just would had a different name for it.

In regards to the Royal Navy, they were believed to just be melancholy. War and its consequences (death, disease) were so commonplace during the 18th century that those who had symptoms of PTSD were called cowards. The names they had for PTSD were cerebro-spinal shock or wind contusions. The condition was treated with skepticism which had to be difficult for a soldier who had no physical wounds.

Rake’s Redemption is a story of love interrupted by a young man’s call to duty…

Pierce, a younger son, realizes that the life of a military officer is far beneath what the woman he loves deserves. Despite her reassurances, he makes a decision to leave her behind, which will haunt him even after he returns from the war.

Caroline, socially ruined by a failed elopement, yearns for a husband and children of her own. Finally deciding to accept the attentions of eligible bachelors, her world is turned upside down once again when her brother in law returns from fighting Napoleon on the peninsula.

When Pierce returns to his childhood home, he and Caroline soon realize they share a sizzling physical attraction. But will the lingering pain of rejection she carries, and his dark memories of battle stand in the way of love?

About the Author

I have been reading romance novels since my aunt introduced me at the age of fourteen and I have not stopped reading them.

Regency romances are one of my all-time favorite eras (grand ballrooms, dinner parties while sitting next to a grand duke or war hero just returned from fighting against Napoleon and the French, hey a girl can dream, can’t she?).

When I am not reading (or writing the stories I have visions of in my head), I am enjoying the joyful moments with my growing family, the ballet and romantic movies.

Writing has always been a great passion for me, a long road of many ups and downs (and lots of online writing classes) and the years it took to get the craft right, finally, all my time and efforts paid off and now my dream of becoming a published author is going to become a reality thanks for a great opportunity of winning a first chapter Facebook contest.

It just goes to prove dreams can come true as long as you do not give up on them.

Where To Find Diane:

Facebook Author Page: Diane Dario

Written content of this post copyright © Diane Dario, 2016.

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

The Future of Wentworth Woodhouse

SAVE is delighted to announce that agreement has been reached with the Newbold family on the purchase of one of the finest and grandest historic houses in Britain, Wentworth Woodhouse. 
The property will be purchased by the Wentworth Woodhouse Preservation Trust (WWPT) and will continue to be open to the public.  The public opening of the property will be supported by the National Trust for the first five years. It is hoped completion of the sale will take place within two to three months.
Wentworth Woodhouse

The £7m pledged for the acquisition includes a £3.575m grant offer from the National Heritage Memorial Fund, and grants from the Monument Trust, the Art Fund, Sir Siegmund Warburg’s Voluntary Settlement and the John Paul Getty Jnr Charitable Trust. Pledges and donations have also been received from many individual members of the public. SAVE and the trustees of the WWPT extend their warmest thanks for all pledges and support received.
The long term strategy is for the public to visit and enjoy all the most interesting parts of the property while restoring the others for revenue-earning uses such as events and holiday lets with business units in the stables. Traditionally a historic house of this size would have required a vast endowment.  This business model will provide a substantial income stream intended to cover both running costs and periodic bouts of repair.
Extensive repairs will be phased over 10 to 15 years allowing time for funds to be raised and the work to be carried out in phases while the property is opened to the public.
The Trust will build on the pioneering work of the Newbold family in opening the house to pre-booked visitors for the first time on a regular basis.  An annual Clifford Newbold lecture will be held to mark the work of the Newbold family in opening the house to the public.
If you would like to donate or find out more, visit JustGiving or Twitter!

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Capability Brown at Compton Verney

Celebrating the genius who moved Earth... and a little bit of Heaven

Compton Verney leads national ‘Capability’ Brown 300 celebrations

Compton Verney
Move over Monty. Take a walk Titchmarsh. 2016 marks the 300th anniversary of the original celebrity gardener (and many say the best) Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown – and Compton Verney is the flagship restoration project of the commemorative events taking place all over Britain.

Brown literally changed the landscape of 18th-century England; designing stunning vistas for the gentry by moving hills, creating rivers and lakes in his quest to shape nature to his remarkable vision.

Thanks to a £2.5 million Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grant, the historic Warwickshire art gallery and former country house, Compton Verney will spearhead local and national festival devoted to the man and his achievements.

The money is being used to preserve, conserve and celebrate the contribution ‘Capability’ Brown made to 120 acres of Compton Verney’s Grade II-listed parkland, which includes the restoration of a rare, Brown-designed Grade I-listed Chapel. There will also be a brand new Visitor Welcome Centre to provide materials about the site’s landscape, history and ecology as well as much-needed visitor facilities.

Dr Steven Parissien, Director of Compton Verney says “Compton Verney’s ambitious; HLF supported Park Restoration Project is the most important capital programme taking place during the ‘Capability’ Brown’s tricentennial year of 2016. As a result, Compton Verney will become widely known not just for its astonishing exhibitions and thought-provoking collections but also for its outstanding, inspirational landscape. At Compton Verney from 2016, there will be space for everyone!”

He added “2015 was our most successful season yet at Compton Verney, with 70,000 visitors between March and September – let’s see if we can top that in 2016.”

In 1769, Brown was employed to lay out the grounds in keeping with the new taste for more naturalistic landscapes. He eliminated all trace of the earlier formal gardens, including the canal on the west front and the avenues running east to west. In their stead came grassland and trees, with the planting of cedars and over 2,200 oak and ash saplings. Brown also turned the lakes into a single expanse of water, by removing the dam between the Upper Long Pool and the Middle Pool to make way for his Upper Bridge.

Three years later, and clearly unburdened by sensitivities to the past, he demolished the medieval church of Compton Murdak, to give an uninterrupted view of the lake from the south east of the house. An obelisk now marks the site of the original church and crypt. 

Brown designed and built a new chapel in 1776. Today, it is being painstakingly restored, aided by the HLF grant.

Compton Verney
An essential accessory for any fine country pile was an ice house. The example constructed by Capability at Compton Verney in 1772 allowed the Verney family to delight their guests with refrigerated food, sorbets and ice creams. With electrification came the refrigerator and the ice house simply became a store for unwanted or discarded items such as a bedstead, a cooker and wine bottles. However, visitors will now find the Ice House fully restored, albeit it has also become home to a bat colony.

Compton Verney re-opens following this winter break on 19 March 2016. Highlights of the CB300 activities will include tours of the landscape, with the Brownian elements highlighted, a series of talks about ‘Capability’ by leading academics and Compton Verney’s Head of Landscape and Gardens, Gary Webb. A Brownian trail around the landscape will allow visitors of all ages to explore and discover 300 years of horticultural history.

A weekend focusing on Brown and the Georgian period in which he came to Compton Verney will be brought to life by costumed characters, while activities and demonstrations by rural craftsmen will heighten the visitor experience and understanding of Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown’s life and era.

For more information about these and other exhibitions at Compton Verney follow
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