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"I don’t change the facts to enhance the drama. I think of it the other way round, the drama has got to fit the facts,
and it’s your job as a writer to find the shape in real life."
Hilary Mantel

Jan 10, 2014

All Sorts of News

A very Happy 2014 to you. So much has happened since my last post, not all of which is pertinent to my writing.
In November I made my annual trip to the UK. As soon as my plane landed, I hastened to the London Historians' monthly pub night, taking place only a short walk from where I was staying. I received a very warm welcome, met people I'd known chiefly via email and Facebook and their blogs, and made new friends.

Either intentionally or by chance, I'm forever coming upon locations where I've set the action of my novel, or places connected to my characters. The duke, his royal father, his father-in-law, mother-in-law, and some of his children are buried in Westminster Abbey, also the setting for coronations and funerals.

Actress Anne Bracegirdle appears in one scene. I always pay my respects when there.

When meeting a friend for lunch at the Army and Navy Club in St James's Square, as usual I photograph the house in which the duchess lived during childhood, before her father moved their household to Whitehall.

Although I took this photograph in Hyde Park, King Charles II took a personal interest in the fowls in St James's Park, as demonstrated in an early scene in my novel.

This splendid gilded room in the Victoria & Albert Museum was the music room of Norfolk House, also in St James's Square.

On my visit to the V&A I saw the "Pearls" exhibition. Of particular interest to me was Queen Mary II's pearl necklace, as she is such a significant character in the book.

Other exhibitions I visited were "The Cheapside Horde" at the Museum of London (it was a very bling-y trip!), "Georgians Revealed" at the British Library (where I also accessed and transcribed 17th century letters written by the Earl of Oxford), a Victoriana installation at the Guildhall Art Gallery, "Elizabeth I and her People" at the National Portrait Gallery, and the Gillray caricature exhibit at the Bank of England Museum.

It wasn't all museums and research, however. I did lots of my Christmas shopping, saw author and non-author friends, dined in favourite restaurants, and wandered streets and parks.

It was rather a muted Christmas, as my father passed away only days before. In addition to being an unexpected loss, I'm sorry and sad that he'll never have a chance to read this novel. As a military man he'd have particularly appreciated the Siege of Belgrade!

At the start of this week, I solved a mystery that has puzzled me for nearly a decade. I'll share that revelation in an upcoming post . . . .