History Hoydens


Historical Romance Writers Dishing the Dirt on Research

15 September 2010

The Palm Palace

My wonderful, innovative web designers and friends, Greg and jim, had the idea a couple of years back of filming an interview of me talking about the background to my books, which they then edited into clips that I could post on my website. The interview we filmed for Vienna Waltz, my April 2011 release, deals a great deal with the historical background. So it occurred to me that these clips might also be of interest to History Hoydens readers.

Here's one where I talk about the Palm Palace, where two real historical women, Wilhelmine, Duchess of Sagan, and Princess Catherine Bagration, both had lodgings during the Congress of Vienna. In Vienna Waltz, my fictional Princess Tatiana Kirsanova (who was called Tatiana Volkonsky at the time we filmed the interview) also lodges in the Palm Palace. Like Wilhelmine and Catherine, Tatiana is also involved with both Tsar Alexander and Prince Metternich.

I couldn't, unfortunately, figure out how to embed the video in Blogger the way I do in Wordpress, so here's a link to the clip on You Tube.

What real life buildings play an important role in your favorite historical novels? Do you ever look for information about the buildings in which scenes from an historical novel are set after you finish reading the book? Writers, what historical houses and other buildings have you particularly enjoyed writing about? How do you go about researching them?

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Blogger Isobel Carr said...

I love visiting old houses and palaces and such, but a visit isn't always possible (stupid day job and lack of trust fund and all that). When I need to know something about a real street or a real building, I'll often go to British History Online. The link below shows you the layout of both White's and Boodle's, and gives you a great deal of history about the buildings:


9:39 AM  
Blogger Tracy Grant said...

Thanks for the link, Isobel! What a fabulous resource. The internet makes researching without traveling so much easier. I've been able to go to Britain several times, but I couldn't go to Vienna to research "Vienna Waltz" (even if I had, the Palm Palace is no longer standing, though I did look at pictures). I was very grateful for the internet, as well as a plethora of research books and the advice of friends who've lived in Vienna.

2:01 PM  
Blogger Pam Rosenthal said...

Talking pix on your web page! How excellent, Tracy.

I myself am an enthusiatic fan of Fenton House in Hampstead, north of London -- one of the most charming, livable historical houses I've ever seen. I'd love to live there, but that not being possible (National Trust and all, not to speak of my being a little short of the necessary cash) I did the next best thing.

I added (architectural) wings, gave it the utterly bourgeois and déclassé name of Beechwood Knolls, and sent the Penley/Grandin family (of The Slightest Provocation) to live there after I plopped it down in Derbyshire -- on the other side of a disputed property line from the snobby, aristocratic Stancells at Rowen Castle (where I wouldn't like to live at all).

Mrs. Penley's remark that it's "a house in the country, rather than a country house" is copped from an architectural history video (not about Fenton House) that I saw in the Victoria and Albert Museum.

All of which is reminding me just how much fun historical romance writing can be.

2:56 PM  
Blogger Tracy Grant said...

How wonderful to have based Beechwood Knolls on a place you actually visited, Pam! I did that with Dunmykel in Beneath a Silent Moon (I actually based it on two different castles), and I based the exterior of Charles and Mel's Berkeley Square town house on a real house that's still there.

I love that you found that line from a video in the V&A. It's wonderful how one can stumble across research tidbits. I was telling my family last night how I find a bit in program notes for the SF Symphony about Schubert scribbling music down in cafés on handkerchiefs and stray bits of papers, which worked its way into Vienna Waltz (in which Schubert is a character).

5:30 PM  
Blogger Pam Rosenthal said...

Schubert a character... say no more, you've sold the book to me.

7:42 AM  
Blogger Tracy Grant said...

Thanks, Pam! It was fun writing about him. He's only 17 in the book. His first Mass had just premiered in October 1814.

11:01 PM  
Blogger Leslie Carroll said...

Fabulous, Tracy!

I love visiting old houses for my research (and of course I visited Versailles and Malmaison last September, which served me well for my historical fiction as well as my nonfiction.) I visit 18th c. residences whenever I can, including No. 1 Royal Crescent (which figures in BY A LADY), a Georgian townhouse (now a museum house) in Dublin as well as the usual London suspects.

5:10 PM  
Blogger Tracy Grant said...

I love visiting old houses too, Leslie! Even if they aren't in a location I'm writing about, period houses offer wonderful inspiration. I love the smaller town houses that have been restored (as opposed to country estates and grand mansions). There's an exquisite late Georgian/Regency country house in Edinburgh that I often think back to when I'm doing floor plans for smaller town houses.

5:21 PM  

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