[This note is at the end of the texts but not included in the audiobook version of the story. For those who have asked about it, here you go.]
For the historic facts that gave me the seeds for this tall tale, I owe a huge debt to someone I’ve never met: Maya Jasanoff. Her book Liberty’s Exiles: American Loyalists in the Revolutionary World gave me a reference for the Wakefield family. What happened to Jordan Wakefield in Virginia in my story really happened to a man named Thomas Brown in Georgia, who was one of “many victims of such assaults,” Jasanoff writes in the opening to Chapter One of Liberty’s Exiles. Unlike my character, Brown did not leave but instead changed his neutral stance and chose to fight on behalf of the loyalists. I’ve also used bits and pieces from other families’ tales, including those of the Wells family: “Wells had dismantled his family’s printing press in Charleston (used to print Charleston’s leading prewar newspaper) and brought it with him to St. Augustine. There he successfully reassembled it—thanks to the invaluable diagrams in a book called The Printer’s Grammar and ‘the assistance of a common negro carpenter’—to publish Florida’s first newspaper in early 1783.” (p. 97) That “common carpenter” was the inspiration for Ben, who plays a far bigger role in my story. I moved the Wakefields to Virginia to give Ben a chance to join Dunmore’s floating city in 1775.
There are a surprising number of soldiers’ reminiscences of the Corunna campaign; two I relied on were From Corunna to Waterloo: The Letters and Journals of Two Napoleonic Hussars, edited by Gareth Glover, and On The Road With Wellington: The Diary of a War Commissary in the Peninsular Campaigns, by August Schaumann. One source for Kerr I discovered while I was working on an earlier story, Reminiscences and Correspondence of Henry Crabb Robinson, edited by Thomas Sadler. For the ladies, I was fortunate to find a memoir in English, The Spanish Journal of Elizabeth, Lady Holland, ed. by the Earl of Ilchester. No character in my story is a direct reflection of any of these people. Also, while I found documents mentioning issues with the commissariat, I have no evidence of widespread fraud during the Corunna campaign; that part of the story is all author’s license. (For a full list of sources and other details, please see nickypenttila.com.)
I started this story because I wanted to write about how a war correspondent learns on the job. It grew to something I found far more interesting.
So many people helped me with this story. Editors including Larry Brooks, Jason Black, and Tessa Shapcott greatly improved the story and its language, and fabulous beta readers Kathleen Parr and Elizabeth Beegle in particular improved my understanding of matters Catholic. Eagle-eyed scouts Diane Elliott and Franz Schniederman helped in the final stretch. Of course, all mistakes are mine alone.
This story was a long time in the thinking and the writing, and I thank all my families and friends for putting up with my rambling about it. I hope to go easier on you with the next one.
This book is dedicated to my husband, John, whose patience, food, and NaNoWriMo dance are truly nourishing.
KEEP IN TOUCH!
Thank you for reading The Spanish Patriot. I hope you enjoyed it.
If you’d like to know when my next book is available, you can sign up for my new release email list at nickypenttila.com or follow me on Twitter at @NickyPenttila.
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