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Category Archives: Research

Historical fiction writer’s lament

It would be interesting to know how officers’ wives intellectualised their experiences in Spain and Portugal. However, setting aside a collection of epic lays of little relevance to our topic–viz., Anon., Poems founded on the Events of the War in the Peninsula by the Wife of an Officer (London, 1819)–the only text that has been […]

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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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On soldiering

From a letter by Edward Charles Cocks, intelligence officer during Peninsular War (1812): “One word more generally on the profession. Few regard soldiers in their true light, that is as a body of men giving up many individual pleasures and comforts for a general national advantage, coupled certainly with the hope of personal fame and […]

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From the mouths of babes, 19th century style

From Recollections of a Rifleman’s Wife, at Home and Abroad; At Home and Abroad, by F. M. Fitzmaurice (1851) (text at Google books, general ebooks): [In Lyons] The Place Louis le Grand is handsome; but some of the streets in the old town, into which we looked, were dreadful,—so narrow, and the houses so high, and withal so […]

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The birth of an island

  First-hand account from 1831 of an island being made between Tunisia and Italy, from Recollections of a Rifleman’s Wife, at Home and Abroad, by F. M. Fitzmaurice (1851) (PDF at Google books, computer-transliterated text at general ebooks; see also Wiki entry on its history and scientific significance):  CHAPTER VII. GRAHAM’S ISLAND. About ten days before we left […]

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Starvation rations good for you?

A little Army rationalization? From The Diary of a Cavalry Officer in the Peninsular and Waterloo Campaign, 1809–1815 by William Tomkinson (text at Google books or archive.org) There is one circumstance greatly in favour of all men wounded. An army is commonly on short allowance, and particularly when before an enemy, neither men nor officers […]

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