History Hoydens


Historical Romance Writers Dishing the Dirt on Research

24 November 2010

Welcome Gillian Bagwell and THE DARLING STRUMPET

The History Hoydens are pleased to welcome novelist Gillian Bagwell, who makes her s historical fiction debut on January 4, 2011 with THE DARLING STRUMPET: A Novel of Nell Gwynn Who Captured the Heart of England and King Charles II.

Advance praise for The Darling Strumpet! "
"Richly engaging portrait of the life and times of one of history's most appealing characters!"
- Diana Gabaldon, author of the best-selling Outlander series
"Bawdy and poignant ... an ebullient page-turner!" - Leslie Carroll, author of Royal Affairs
"Hard to resist this sort of seduction - a Nell Gwynn who pleasures the crowds upon the stages of London and the noblest men of England in their bedrooms. A vivid portrait of an age that makes our own seem prudish, told with verve, humour, pathos... and not a little eroticism." - C.C. Humphreys, Actor and Author of Jack Absolute.
Apart from what I said in my blurb, I think that Gillian hit it out of the park on her first at-bat, not only because she wrote an exceptional novel about one of my favorite women in history, but because (see Isobel's recent post on covers) her publisher's art department gave her one of the most eye-catching (to say the least) covers to ever grace a work of historical fiction.

Congratulations to Gillian!

What follows here, is her guest post for the hoydens and our readers:


September 1660 was the fourth month since Charles II had ridden into London on his thirtieth birthday to claim his throne after years of exile during the Commonwealth under Oliver Cromwell.

The new Parliament was still working hard to finish important business before they adjourned. Finances were the most pressing issue. A committee reported that the government’s revenue was estimated at £819,398 and expenses at least £200,000 more than that. They resolved to find a way to get the revenue up to £1,200,000, and also allocated £5000 for the repair of the King’s houses as well as £10,000 and £7000 respectively for the King’s brothers, the Dukes of York and Gloucester.

Diarist John Evelyn recorded his visit to St. Margaret’s Fair in Southwark, where he saw “a monstrous birth of twins, both femals & most perfectly shaped, save that they were joyn’d breast to breast, & incorporated at the navil, having their armes thrown about each other thus.” He illustrated his entry with a drawing, and continued, “We also saw a poore Woman, that had a living Child of one yeare old, who had its head, neck, with part of a Thigh growing out about Spina dorsi. The head had the place of Eyes & nose, but none perfected.” He also saw “Monkeys and Apes daunce & do other feates of activity on the high-rope to admiration…. They saluted one another with as good grace as if instructed by a Dauncing Master. They turned heales over head, with a bucket of Eggs in it, without breaking any: also with Candles (lighted) in their hands, & on their head, without extinguishing them, & with vessels of water, without spilling a drop.” Diarist Samuel Pepys also wrote on September 10 that he had visited the fair in Southwark, “I having not at all seen Bartlmew fayre.”

James, Duke of York

This September was to be a month of high drama for the royal family. The first act took place in secret at about midnight on September 3, when James, the Duke of York, married Anne Hyde, the daughter of the King’s advisor Edward Hyde, newly created Earl of Clarendon. James and Anne had met and fallen in love when Anne was maid of honor to Mary of Orange, the sister of the King and Duke, and had entered into a contract of marriage in Breda the previous fall. At the time, the chances of Charles’s Restoration to the throne had seemed remote, much less the eventuality of James becoming king. Now everything was different. And to complicate matters, Anne was already very much pregnant.

Ann Hyde

On September 5, diarist Samuel Pepys wrote, “the Duke of Gloucester is fallen ill and is said will prove the smallpox.” On September 11 he noted “The Duke of York did go today by break-of-day to the Downes. The Duke of Gloucester ill.” The Duke of York was going to meet his sister Mary, who was coming from The Hague, and also taking the opportunity to review the fleet, as in May Charles had made him Lord High Admiral. The timing was unfortunate. For several days, the attention of the King and court had been focused on the 20-year-old Henry, Duke of Gloucester. Pepys had heard right, and the duke did have smallpox. On the morning of September 13, it was announced that he was out of danger. But as the day wore on, he grew worse, and that evening at nine o’clock he died – “by the great negligence of the Doctors,” Pepys thought.

Charles was devastated. His youngest brother had suffered years of imprisonment as a child when Cromwell was in power, had finally been permitted to go the court of his sister Mary, and had later become somewhat of a religious-political football when their mother Queen Henrietta Maria tried to convert him to Catholicism. Young Henry was well liked. Evelyn eulogized him as “a prince of extraordinary hopes.” He had seemed to have a promising life before him, and now he was gone. The King secluded himself for days, though on Sunday September 16 Pepys saw him in Whitehall garden “in purple mourning for his brother.” Pepys also noted with approval “how far they have proceeded in the pellmell and the making of a river through the parke.”
On September 27 Thomas Rugg reported “Playes are for the present forbidden because of the death of the Duke of Gloucester.”

Meanwhile, the departure of Mary of Orange from The Hague had been delayed by bad weather, so the Duke of York spent five days at sea in the Downs. When there was still no sign of his sister’s ship, he put in at Gravesend, only to learn of his younger brother’s death, and he hastened back to London.

Soon after the duke got to Whitehall, the news of his marriage to Anne Hyde leaked out. James went to the King and begged his brother for leave to acknowledge the marriage, vowing that otherwise he would leave England, never to return. Charles was not opposed to the marriage, but rightly supposed that Anne’s father might be. Clarendon was not popular, and the marriage of his daughter to the king’s brother might be considered coming it a bit high. (As I write this, the engagement of Kate Middleton to Prince William has just been announced – the first time since the marriage of the Duke of York and Anne Hyde that a presumptive heir to the throne will be married to a commoner.)

Charles knew the situation was delicate, and enlisted the Marquess of Ormonde and the Earl of Southampton to talk to Clarendon. They began by saying that the Duke of York had acknowledged his love for Anne, that she was thought to be with child, and that the King requested his advice.

Clarendon exploded. Not, as one might expect, at the Duke, but at his daughter. He raged, calling her a strumpet and swearing he would disown her and turn her into the street. Ormonde and Southampton, no doubt startled, explained that in fact Anne was married to the Duke. Clarendon, apoplectic at the thought that his daughter had put him in the situation of seeming to aspire above his place, roared that he would rather she was the Duke’s whore than his wife, and that the King should send her to the Tower and cut off her head. He meant it, and when the King checked in to see how things were going, Ormonde and Southampton said maybe the King could talk sense into Clarendon, who was clearly mad. The King didn’t fare much better, and when Clarendon got home he ordered his wife to lock Anne in her room.

In the middle of all this came the funeral of the young Duke of Gloucester. On September 21 Pepys wrote that he went “back by water about 8-aclock; and upon the water saw corps of the Duke of Gloucester brought down Somersett house stairs to go by water to Westminster to be buried tonight.”

On the twenty-third, Pepys wrote, “The King having news of the Princesses being come to Margetts, he and the Duke of Yorke went down thither in Barges to her.” Mary, having had a terrible crossing and narrowly avoiding shipwreck, now faced the double shock of learning of her youngest brother’s death and of James’s marriage to her former lady in waiting, who would now take precedence over her.

A few days later another member of the royal family arrived in London. Prince Rupert, the dashing nephew of Charles I, famous for his military exploits and successes during the war as General of Horse of the Royalist army, slipped rather quietly into Whitehall. Jane Lane, who had helped King Charles escape after the Battle of Worcester, wrote to Rupert’s mother Queen Elizabeth of Bohemia, “Methinks his Highness looks very well. Everybody here seems to look very graciously on him.” Everyone but Samuel Pepys, apparently, who on September 29 sneered, “I hear Prince Robt. is come to Court; but welcome to nobody.” In the same entry, Pepys recorded that he had spent “all day at home to make an end of our dirty work of the playsterers, and indeed, my Kitchin is now so handsome that I did not repent of all the trouble that I have been put to to have it done.”

The turmoil over the marriage of the Duke of York and Anne Hyde was not at an end. Queen Henrietta Maria, the mother of the King and the Duke, was furious when she heard the news, and fired off letters to both sons. Something Must Be Done, and she was going to do it. Jane Lane’s letter to Elizabeth of Bohemia summed up the situation. “We are like to have the Queen very suddenly here, which many are discontented at.”

Sources and further reading:
The Diary of Samuel Pepys - http://www.pepysdiary.com/
1660: The Year of Restoration, Patrick Morrah (Beacon Press, 1960)
The London Stage, 1660-1800, A Calendar of Plays, Entertainments, and Afterpieces Together with Casts, Box-Receipts, and Contemporary Comment, Part I, 1660-1700, ed. William Van Lennep et al. (Southern Illinois University Press, 1963)
Pepys’s Diary, Volume I, selected and edited by Robert Latham (Folio Society, 1996)
The Diary of John Evelyn, ed. Guy de la Bédoyère (Boydell Press, 1995; First Person Singular, 2004)

Gillian Bagwell is the author of the upcoming novel The Darling Strumpet, based on the life of Nell Gwynn, who rose from the streets to become one of London’s most beloved actresses and the life-long mistress of King Charles II.
This is the fifth in a series of articles chronicling the events from May 1660 through January 1661, in commemoration of the 350th anniversary of the Restoration of the English monarchy, the reopening of the playhouses, which had been closed for eighteen years under Cromwell, and the first appearance of an actress on the English stage, in contrast to the old practice of boys playing women’s roles.

For links to the other articles and information about Gillian’s books, please visit her website, gillianbagwell.com.


Blogger Tracey Devlyn said...

Hi Gillian,

Thanks for the great post! Always love learning new things.

I will keep an eye out for your book in January.


5:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gillian, I remember seeing your book cover months ago and was very intrigued by it. Nell the Orange Seller holding the orange in such a way that it is provocative, yet innocent. Really great artwork by your publisher. Congrats on the release.

7:08 AM  
Blogger Audra said...

Great post -- I love the drama! Gorgeous cover, too, which always makes the book more appealing.

7:31 AM  
Blogger Isobel Carr said...

The books sounds great (and I love the cover!). I"m always up for something about Nell Gwynn.

8:33 AM  
Blogger Louisa Cornell said...

LOVE that cover!! And I am big fan of Darling Nell ! Can't wait to read your book. Going to check out the other articles now!

7:02 PM  
Blogger Gillian Bagwell said...

Thanks so much, all of you! Especially Leslie, for your gracious hosting and enthusiastic comments!

There will be further posts on the subsequent months in 1660 up soon on other blogs. My website, gillianbagwell.com, will have links to them, and has links to the previous articles.

4:01 PM  

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