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Category Archives: History

On the anniversary of Peterloo, a free read

A protest march in 2009 inspired me to find stories of protest with women participants from earlier days. For my novel An Untitled Lady, I settled on events during the summer of 1819 leading into the Peterloo massacre, on 16 August, for many reasons. It’s well-known, partly because newspaper correspondents were eyewitnesses–and among those arrested […]

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2016 Peterloo remembrance an act of creation

Each year, people gather in Manchester to remember the massive gathering there on 16 August 1819, when a meeting to demand political change turned into a bloodbath when local militia and military cavalry attacked the unarmed crowd. Speakers read speeches of the day and the listing of those killed at the meeting, now called Peterloo, […]

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Remembering the Battle of Corunna

In 1808, Britain sent an army to the coastal town of La Coruña (A Coruña in Galician) with orders to march toward Madrid and, joining with British forces coming up from Portugal and Spanish on the field, rout the invading French armies from Spain. As I depict in my novel The Spanish Patriot, nothing went as […]

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Research for Writing: Stories of Women

One of the delights of writing about the Regency, especially stories that include soldiers, is the sheer amount of on-the-scene documentation available. This is said to be the first conflict in which soldiers as well as officers could read and write, and many have left diaries and memoirs of their experiences. I used many of their […]

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Galicia: Songs of Love

In Chapter Eight of The Spanish Patriot, Louisa translates some lines from a troubadour song as it is being played. It’s a small note in the scene, but comes from a deeper place: my discovery of this beautiful song and my search to learn more about it and about the Portuguese-Galician troubadour tradition. Cantigas are medieval monophonic melodies, songs of […]

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Corunna: Musical notes

Part of choosing to write a story set in Spain was my love for the work of classical Spanish guitarists (Andres Segovia, Paco Peña, and many more). Turns out that was NOT the popular music of Galicia, where The Spanish Patriot is set. In addition to the dulcet tones of the acoustic guitar and intimate songs […]

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Prelude to Corunna: A beach landing

I could not find a description of the British troops departing the transport ships for the beach of Corunna harbor to use in The Spanish Patriot, but I did find one for a similar — rather eventful — embarkation a few months earlier, in Portugal. This is from the memoir On the Road with Wellington: […]

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Field Trip: Printer’s shop

I decided that the Wakefield family in my novel The Spanish Patriot would be printers after reading this passage, from Liberty’s Exiles: American Loyalists in the Revolutionary World by Maya Jasanoff (boldface type is my highlighting): 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. […]

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A tour of La Coruña, in search of Corunna 1808

Between the second and third drafts of The Spanish Patriot, I traveled to its main setting, Corunna (A Coruña in Gallego, La Coruña in Castilian), in the region of Galicia, on Spain’s northwestern edge. Whenever possible, I like to go to the places I write about, especially to get a sense of the place. Here, […]

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Loyalists: American Refugees

[See first post: Road to Corunna — American Loyalists] Of course, the British lost the American War of Independence. Of the white Loyalists, about 15 percent fled the colonies after the British surrender, many to Canada or Florida. As historian Maya Jasanoff says in her book Liberty’s Exiles: Confronting real doubts about their lives, liberty, and […]

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