And the Winner is Denise of Ontario, Canada. Thanks to everyone for reading and participating in the Weigh Anchor Nautical blog hop!
Win a paperback copy of Captain Blackwell’s Prize! Leave a comment, the winner will be selected from commenters on this website. Contest is open worldwide and concludes September 24, 2013. Continue sailing on the Weigh Anchor Nautical Blog Hop to the excellent ports of call listed below!
The Best Bit (of Research) I’ll Never Use
Like many historical fiction writers I spend a good deal of time reading primary and secondary source materials in the time period of my novels, looking for those telling details. I like to depict women and children in the wooden world of the eighteenth and early nineteenth century Royal Navy. To those that would claim Royal Navy ships were a strictly masculine domain, I would suggest reading The Wynne Diaries 1789 – 1820. Elizabeth Wynne was the wife of Thomas Fremantle, one of Nelson’s band of brothers, and she was present on her husband’s ship after the attack at Tenerife that cost Nelson his arm. It is not alone, or even especially, these grand historic moments fiction authors hunt, but those interesting, curious, often touching bits that occur in the letters, diaries, and contemporary journals of the Napoleonic age.
Naval families are of particular interest in my research, and there was no shortage of them during the long French Wars lasting from 1793 to 1815 when one in five adult men were involved in some branch of the military. Brothers Thomas and Basil Cochrane served at the same time in the Royal Navy, as did Jane Austen’s brothers Francis and Charles. As an elderly admiral Francis Austen carried his forty year old unmarried daughter Cassandra on board his flagship Vindictive, where a young lieutenant commented in his diary that if the ship’s captain were to leave, ‘Cass would be the Admiral and commanding Officer.’ One of the best bits of research I’d like to share in this post does come from a member of a naval family, but it is an incident I don’t believe I’ll ever be able to use in my nautical fiction.
Allow me to introduce Fanny Burney, the sister of Captain James Burney of the Royal Navy and daughter of Doctor Charles Burney, socialite and musicologist. At seventeen Fanny Burney wrote Evelina, a novel much admired and praised by contemporaries like Doctor Samuel Johnson. Her most valuable contribution to letters (certainly to fiction writers) may be the seven volume The Diary and Letters of Madame D’Arblay, with their depiction of family life and life at the court of St. James. Fanny Burney lived for a number of years as a member of the Queen’s household (Queen Charlotte, wife of George III, mother of fifteen children). The following scene concerns a visit Madame D’Arblay paid to the royal family years after her service had ended, when Fanny Burney had married a French emigré and been invited to introduce their little son to the Queen.
I was not a little anxious, you will believe, in this presentation of my unconsciously honoured rogue, who entered the White closet totally unimpressed with any awe, and only with a sensation of disappointment in not meeting again the gay young party (of Royal Princesses), and variety of playthings, he had left above. The queen, nevertheless, was all condescending indulgence, and had a Noah’s ark ready displayed upon the table for him.
“And how does your papa do?” said the queen.
“He’s at Telsea,” answered the child.
“And how does grandpapa do?”
“He’s in the toach,” he replied.
“And what a pretty frock you’ve got on! who made it you, mamma, or little aunty?”
The little boy now grew restless, and pulled me about, with a desire to change his situation. I was a good deal embarrassed, as I saw the queen meant to enter into conversation as usual; which I knew to be impossible, unless he had some entertainment to occupy him. She perceived this soon, and had the goodness immediately to open Noah’s ark herself, which she had meant he should take away with him to examine and possess at once. But he was now soon in raptures : and, as the various animals were produced, looked with a delight that danced in all his features; and when any appeared of which he knew the name, he capered with joy; such as, “O! a tow [cow]!” But at the dog, he clapped his little hands, and running close to her Majesty; leant upon her lap, exclaiming, “O, it’s bow wow!”
The queen now imagined he did not know whom she meant, and said, ” What does he call you? Has he any particular name for you?”
He now lifted up his head, and, before I could answer, called out, in a fondling manner, “Mamma, mamma!”
“O!” said she, smiling, “he knows who I mean!”
His restlessness still interrupting all attention, in defiance of my earnest whispers for quietness, she now said, “Perhaps he is hungry?” and rang her bell, and ordered a page to bring some cakes.
He took one with great pleasure, and was content to stand down to eat it. I asked him if he had nothing to say for it; he nodded his little head, and composedly answered, “Sanky, queen!” This could not help amusing her, nor me, neither, for I had no expectation of quite so succinct an answer.
The Diary and Letters of Madame D’Arblay, Volume 3 by Frances Burney (074 of 205), DailyLit version
What parent has not felt Madame D’Arblay’s dread of their child running amok in another’s house, much less before the Queen in a royal household! Yet while there are women and children in my nautical adventures; in Blackwell’s Paradise — coming late 2013 — with Captain Blackwell and Mercedes now young marrieds, children are involved, their own and the ones they share with others; I still cannot feature bringing the Queen aboard. I’ve taken this opportunity to share the best bit of research I’ll never use on the Weigh Anchor Nautical Blog Hop, as the only chance I may have to work in that priceless phrase “Sanky, queen!”
Win a paperback copy of Captain Blackwell’s Prize! Leave a comment below, the winner will be selected from commenters on this website. Contest is open worldwide and concludes September 24, 2013.
Continue sailing on the Weigh Anchor Nautical Blog Hop to these excellent ports of call.
“Black Men & the Black Flag”
“A Sea Witch, A Surprise…”
“Pirates and their Ships”
“Who wouldn’t sell a petticoat and go to Sea”
“The SEA’S MAGIC – what is it?”
“Summoning the Maritime Muse”
“By the Sea, by the beautiful Sea”
“The Cutters – the Smuggler’s vessel of choice”
“The First True Pirate Hero”
“The First Age of Sail?”
“On Smugglers, Free Traders, and other Fake Heroes…”
“Angra: Gem of the Azores”
“The Wonders of Bronze Age Shipwrecks”
“The Hourglass Gybe”
“A Week of Windjammers”
“War of 1812 and the battle between brigs Boxer and Enterprise”
“The War Galley from ancient time to the 16th century”
“Knowing the ropes”
“The Menace of Derelicts in the days of sail”
“Women aboard Whaling ships”
“Blood, Ice and Honour”