Burntwick Island, Setting as Character in “Losing Lizzy: A Pride and Prejudice Vagary”

On Friday, we had a closer look at Deadman’s Island, and its part in the setting for Losing Lizzy: A Pride and Prejudice Vagary. Like Deadman’s Island, Burntwick can be found in the estuary of the River Medway in Kent. Although a little larger, also, like Deadman’s Island it is a flat area of marshland. It is approximate 1.2 miles long and two-thirds of a mile wide. It was once attached to the British mainland of Chetney Marshes. It formed the northernmost area of the Upchurch Parish. 

On the southern side of the estuary, it is separated by a narrow channel known as Stangate Creek. Just as was Deadman’s Island, Burntwick is crossed by several narrow tidal channels, meaning at high tide the island is separated into several smaller ones. 

In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, it was used as a quarantine base for disease-infected ships. The bodies of those who died were buried on Deadman’s Island, which lies about 2 miles to the east of Burntwick Island.

With the rise of custom duties in the late 18th Century, especially those on tea and spirits, the island was “claimed” by smugglers, specifically the North Kent Gang, as their staging ground. The North Kent Gang were known for their ruthlessness and for their ability to stymie the efforts of the excise men, meant to capture them. 

In 1820, two blockade officers confronted them uploading goods in Stangate Creek. The smugglers escaped, but one of the officers was seriously injured. Eventually, the members of the North Kent Gang—some 50 members in all—were captured. Three were executed on the Penenden Heath near Maidenstone. Fifteen were transported to Tasmania. When the import duties, which necessitated their activities, ended in 1831, smuggling in the area was nearly eradicated. 

Looking towards Sheppey 400ft above Burntwick island

According to History of Rainham, Kent Website: “Later in 1845 a ship’s surgeon named Sidney Bernard who served on H.M.S Rollo just off the coast of Sierra Leone in West Africa became associated with the island. The crew of another ship, H.M.S Éclair, contracted yellow fever and some of them died. Bernard’s ship was sent by the Royal Navy to assist and Bernard was appointed assistant surgeon on H.M.S Eclair to treat the sailors. The ship returned to England but the naval authorities, worried that the disease might spread to the general population, ordered the captain to moor the ship in Stangate Creek just off the Ham Green peninsular. The cargo was then transferred to one of two hulks permanently moored there and a naval cutter guarded the infected ship to prevent anyone going ashore. Sidney Bernard continued treating the crew but was unable to save them until he also contracted the disease and died aged 27 on October 9th 1845. He was buried on the island and his grave remains there today, maintained by the Royal Navy.

“During the 19th century the island became a dumping ground for refuse from London and even today the ground is covered with Victorian glass and crockery.

“Sheep had grazed on Burntwick Island for years and during the 1840s a shepherd named James Woolley and his wife Sarah lived there in a solitary house. The remains of the house still exist there today. A track ran from Shoregate Lane at Ham Green out to the island and traces of it can still be seen. Later, In the 1860s, the famous ‘Great Eastern’ ship which laid the first cable line between England and the United States was temporarily moored nearby. After that, during the 1870s, a shepherd named Thomas Hoare and his housekeeper Emma Castleton lived there and tended farmer Richard Sands sheep but during the early 20th century the tide flooded the island making it unsuitable for grazing so from that time livestock only grazed on the mainland.

“Burntwick Island eventually became the property of the Ministry of Defense. During the early years of the 20th century a battery was constructed there which included two 12 pounder guns, machine gun emplacements and three searchlights. A torpedo school later became established with a barracks building and ammunition depots with target practice taking place during World War Two. The island then fell into disuse and is now just a desolate haven for seabirds and is completely under water for several hours at high tide.”

Losing Lizzy: A Pride and Prejudice Vagary 

She thought him dead. Now only he can save their daughter.

When Lady Catherine de Bourgh told Elizabeth Bennet: “And this is your real opinion! This is your final resolve! Very well. I shall now know how to act. Do not imagine, Miss Bennet, that your ambition will ever be gratified. I came to try you. I hoped to find you reasonable; but, depend upon it, I will carry my point,” no one knew how vindictive and manipulative her ladyship might prove, but Darcy and Elizabeth were about to discover the bitter truth for themselves.

This is a story of true love conquering even the most dire circumstances. Come along with our dear couple as they set a path not only to thwart those who stand between them and happiness, but to forge a family, one not designed by society’s strict precepts, but rather one full of hope, honor, loyalty and love.

Amazon https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0884F86FP

Kindle  https://www.amazon.com/Losing-Lizzy-Pride-Prejudice-Vagary-ebook/dp/B08886PXQG/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

Kobo https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/losing-lizzy

Nook https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/losing-lizzy-regina-jeffers/1137038434?ean=2940162951087

Posted in book release, British history, eBooks, England, Georgian England, Georgian Era, Great Britain, historical fiction, history, Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice, publishing, reading habits, real life tales, Regency era, research, spooky tales, Vagary, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Congratulations to the Winners!!!

These lucky winners just won an eBook copy of my latest novel, Losing Lizzy: A Pride and Prejudice Variation. The Kindle notice should be in your email box.

The list below reflects the winners on my blog, Every Woman Dreams, and those from Austen Authors and the other blogs hosting this release: 

Aimee J

Amy Z

Beth

charlene 

deborahanne2

Glenda M

G Sw

Juliana 

lesliegb

Lüthien84

Kayelem 

Susan 

Teresa

Vanessa M

Zahra

Posted in Austen Authors, blog hop, book release, eBooks, giveaway, Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice, Vagary | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Deadman’s Island, Setting as Character in “Losing Lizzy: A Pride and Prejudice Vagary”

Deadman’s Island, located at the mouth of The Swale, opposite the town of Queenborough on the Isle of Sheppey, off the north Kent coast, plays a major role in my new JAFF story, entitled Losing Lizzy: A Pride and Prejudice Vagary

As mentioned above, Deadman’s Island is a flat, raised area of marshland approximately 1200 metres long and 200 metres wide. It is found in the estuary of the River Medway in Kent in England near where the Swale flows into the Medway. It lies among the tidal sand banks on the southern side of the estuary and is separated from the mainland of Chetney Marshes by a narrow channel known as Shepherd’s Creek. The town of Queenborough lies a kilometer to the east of the West Swalle channel. The island is crossed by several narrow tidal channels, which means at high tide, the island is separated into several smaller islands. 

This island is a fascinating place, but, unfortunately, it is not one the general public can visit. The uninhabited mudbank is owned by Natural England, who lease it to two people.The wetland site is protected land, and is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and recognised to be of international importance under the Ramsar convention. The Ramsar Convention is a Convention on Wetlands, an intergovernmental treaty that provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources. Deadman’s Island is also an important bird breeding and nesting site.

Back in January 2017, the BBC’s Inside Out South East programme took a boat across to investigate whether any of the rumours were true. The Inside Out team was only allowed to visit after receiving permission from the leaseholder and because it was not the bird breeding season.

FERRARI PRESS AGENCY…Dozens of bodies are being uncovered by the elements at mysterious Deadman’s Island off the coast of Sheppey, Kent. A BBC Inside Out South East programme revealed grisly bones which are now littering the remote island’s beaches. Credit: BBC Inside Out South East. See Ferrrari copy.

Bodies were buried on Deadman’s Island as early as the 1600s, but it became a “burial ground” of sorts for those who died upon ships carrying diseases. The ships were quarantined on nearby Burntwick Island, and the dead were buried on Deadman’s Island. Both islands set at the mouth of the Thames. The quarantine and burials were meant to prevent another “plague” to reach London. Later, Deadman’s Island was used as a port for Prison Hulks. Originally, prison hulks were used to detain prisoners who were used for work details during the day and imprisoned upon the hulks at night.

In 2016, the remains of more than 200 humans were found on the island. The remains are believed to be those of men and boys who died of contagious diseases or on board floating prisons, known as prison hulks, which were moored off the Isle of Sheppey more than 200 years ago.

They were buried in unmarked coffins in six feet of mud.

They were originally buried in wooden coffins under six feet of mud. Unfortunately, rising sea levels and coastal erosion over the years have begun to slowly wash away their final resting place, leaving wooden coffins and skeletal remains sticking out of the mud. They are only visible when the tide is out. The remains are being washed out into the sea, and would be difficult to rebury. The island is marked with wooden posts across it, though these are probably to help identify the island and prevent erosion and not grave markers as sometimes claimed.

Locals in the Sheppey town of Queenborough grew up with the legend of a red-eyed hound who ate the heads of its victims on the eerie land mass. But historians have shown it was used a cemetery for inmates onboard prison hulks – converted warships used as floating jails for criminals waiting to be transported to the colonies in the 1820s and 30s.

FERRARI PRESS AGENCY…Dozens of bodies are being uncovered by the elements at mysterious Deadman’s Island off the coast of Sheppey, Kent. A BBC Inside Out South East programme revealed grisly bones which are now littering the remote island’s beaches. Credit: BBC Inside Out South East. See Ferrrari copy. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4184394/Bones-19th-century-prison-ship-inmates-uncovered.html

Experts say more than 1,000 men and boys were incarcerated in floating fortresses ‘Retribution’ and ‘Bellerophon’ anchored at Sheerness, made of decommissioned Ships of the Line stripped of their masts and sails. Naval historian Professor Eric Grove said: ‘Obviously when people died on board these prison hulks they had to be buried somewhere and island close-by was the obvious place.’ There has been debate about how bad the conditions were on board, but it is believed a cholera outbreak on Retribution on the 1830s may help explain the dozens of bodies now littering the island.

Coincidentally, during the Napoleonic wars, many French prisoners of war were held around the coast at Chatham, with those who died buried on the nearby marshes.

Deadman’s Island Gives Up Its Secrets

Deadman’s Island Reveals the Grisly History of Kent 

Six Things to Know About Deadman’s Island

Thousands of Bodies Dumped (Deadman’s Island) 

Losing Lizzy: A Pride and Prejudice Vagary 

She thought him dead. Now only he can save their daughter.

When Lady Catherine de Bourgh told Elizabeth Bennet: “And this is your real opinion! This is your final resolve! Very well. I shall now know how to act. Do not imagine, Miss Bennet, that your ambition will ever be gratified. I came to try you. I hoped to find you reasonable; but, depend upon it, I will carry my point,” no one knew how vindictive and manipulative her ladyship might prove, but Darcy and Elizabeth were about to discover the bitter truth for themselves.

This is a story of true love conquering even the most dire circumstances. Come along with our dear couple as they set a path not only to thwart those who stand between them and happiness, but to forge a family, one not designed by society’s strict precepts, but rather one full of hope, honor, loyalty and love.

Amazon https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0884F86FP

Kindle  https://www.amazon.com/Losing-Lizzy-Pride-Prejudice-Vagary-ebook/dp/B08886PXQG/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

Kobo https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/losing-lizzy

Nook https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/losing-lizzy-regina-jeffers/1137038434?ean=2940162951087

Posted in Austen Authors, book release, British history, eBooks, England, Georgian England, Georgian Era, Great Britain, historical fiction, Jane Austen, Living in the Regency, Living in the UK, Pride and Prejudice, reading habits, Regency era, Regency romance, suspense, Vagary, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

The Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence, a Year Before Thomas Jefferson’s Document

Some of you realize, I live in North Carolina, a state draped in rich history. One of those events is the the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence. A year before Thomas Jefferson’s “Declaration,” there was Meck-Dec, as we in the area fondly call it. 

Johann_Georg_Ziesenis_-_Queen_Charlotte_when_Princess,_Royal_Collection.jpgAfter the French and Indian War, King George and the British Parliament sometimes ignored the American colonies and sometimes saw them as a source of income for the numerous wars in which they engaged. The Stamp Act and the taxes on tea, however, provoke the colonists into breaking with Great Britain. When the British Army occupied Boston and close the port, word of the aggression quickly spread, even to the backwoods of Mecklenburg County in North Carolina. Not liking what they heard, those within the county authorized Colonel Thomas Polk, the commander of the county militia, to call a meeting where the “aggression” might be discussed. Two representatives were named by each of the nine militia companies within the county. Whatever decision theses men would make would be binding on the county’s citizens. These men met at the county courthouse, which was located in Charlotte, a town named for King George III’s queen, Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz.

This meeting took place on Friday, 19 May 1775. Imagine how these men felt when an express rider, on the very day of the meeting, brought word of the Battle of Lexington and the Battle of Concord. The news that British soldiers had killed and wounded British citizens (which was what the Americans considered themselves at the time) brought a new urgency to the discussion taking place in Charlotte. 

Out of these discussion came the five resolutions that make up the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence. It was sent to the North Carolina representative at the Continental Congress, and it declared that Mecklenburg County had separated from the Great Britain. 

mecklenburg_declaration.jpgThe five resolutions explained how Great Britain had “wantonly trampled on our rights and liberties and inhumanly shed the innocent blood of American patriots at Lexington.” It went on the say, we “dissolve the political bands which have connected us to the Mother country” and declare ourselves “a free and independent people.”  The laws were to remain the same but “The Crown of Great Britain never can be considered as holding rights, privileges, immunities, or authority therein.”  To read the complete text of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence, click here.

SAR-MeckDec-2016-5-1024x683.jpg

“This document was read from the courthouse steps the next day at noon to the acclamation of a large assembly of Mecklenburg citizens.  Everyone knew of the meeting on Friday the 19th and that whatever resulted, the news would be read out from the courthouse steps on Saturday.  The news of Lexington and Concord greatly increased the people’s interest.  Since the decisions made here would be binding on all of the citizens of the county, people came from far and wide to hear the news.

presentationThumbnail.jpg“Even as they were debating and approving what came to be known as The Mecklenburg Declaration, the delegates had realized that it lacked coherence and organization and they appointed a committee to revise it.  By May 31st the committee had completed their work which was not a revision but rather a completely new document, and which came to be called the Mecklenburg Resolves.  This new document was less emotional, more logical, and much better organized than the original:

  • The introduction states the reason for declaring independence:  Parliament had declared the Colonies to be in a state of rebellion, thereby annulling the King’s authority and forcing the colonies to provide for their own governance.
  • The first three resolves remove all royal officers, suspend all royal laws and place all legislative and judicial powers in the Congress of each Province.
  • Resolves 4-15 lay out laws governing the Militia and the courts of justice and is concerned mostly with debts, rents and taxes.
  • Numbers 16 and 17 deal with the punishment of those who remain loyal to the King and Parliament.
  • Number 18 says that these resolves are in force until the NC Provincial Congress says otherwise, or until Great Britain changes its attitude toward the Colonies.
  • Number 19 says that everyone should arm themselves and be ready for action.
  • And finally resolve number 20 directs Col. Thomas Polk and Dr. Joseph Kennedy to buy 300 pounds of gunpowder, 600 pounds of lead and 1,000 flints on behalf of the county.

 17461.33608.jpg“In short, finding themselves declared outlaws by the King, they set up their own government and prepared to defend themselves.  And note that they did this not just for Mecklenburg County, but for the whole thirteen colonies.  To read the complete text of the Mecklenburg Resolves, click here.

Captain-Jack-Statue-Charlotte.jpg“On about June 1, 1775 Militia Captain James Jack set off for Philadelphia with both documents to lay them before the Second Continental Congress then meeting in that city.  When he returned he said that the representatives from North Carolina had read and approved the documents.  However, at that time the Congress was debating and approving a petition to the King asking for reconciliation so the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence was forgotten and not head from outside of Mecklenburg County for many years.” (James Williams, June 10, 2008, The Mecklenburg Historical Association)

LIberty-Walk-Map-scanned-391x1024.jpg

Also See: 

Blythe, Legette; Brockman, Charles Raven (1961). “Mecklenburg Resolves, Preamble and Resolution 2”. Hornet’s Nest: The Story of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County. Charlotte, NC: Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County. p. 429.

Charlotte’s Liberty Walk

Graham, George Washington (1905). The Mecklenburg Declaration Of Independence, May 20, 1775, And Lives Of Its Signers. The Neale Publishing Company

Hoyt, William Henry (1907). The Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence: A Study of Evidence Showing that the Alleged Early Declaration of Independence by Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, on May 20th, 1775, is Spurious. G.P. Putnam’s Sons.

The Mecklenburg Declaration – The Celebrations

The Mecklenburg Declaration – The Controversy

Posted in American History, British history, British Navy, Declaration of Independence, Georgian England, history, political stance, research, war | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Announcing the Release of “Losing Lizzy” with an Excerpt + a Giveaway

Okay, I admit it. This idea for a new Pride and Prejudice variation has been floating about in my head for more than two years, likely closer to three. Each time it resurfaced, however, I have placed the premise aside because for the story to happen, Darcy and Elizabeth needed to anticipate their vows, and, in truth, I tend to avoid those type of stories myself. So, if you are one of those who prefers our dear couple to wait for their marriage bed, I pray you will give this story a chance before rejecting it. The story starts nearly four years after Darcy does not show for his wedding. Please know, other than a few kisses, this story is squeaky clean. 

I also admit this tale goes further away from canon than do most of my stories. It takes its roots from the scene where Lady Catherine de Bourgh calls at Longbourn and attempts to convince Elizabeth to abandon her hopes of ever being Mrs. Darcy. For those of you who require a reminder: 

“You are then resolved to have him?”

“I have said no such thing. I am only resolved to act in that manner, which will, in my own opinion, constitute my happiness, without reference to you, or to any person so wholly unconnected with me.”

“It is well. You refuse, then, to oblige me. You refuse to obey the claims of duty, honour, and gratitude. You are determined to ruin him in the opinion of all his friends, and make him the contempt of the world.”

“Neither duty, nor honour, nor gratitude,” replied Elizabeth, “have any possible claim on me, in the present instance. No principle of either would be violated by my marriage with Mr. Darcy. And with regard to the resentment of his family, or the indignation of the world, if the former were excited by his marrying me, it would not give me one moment’s concern — and the world in general would have too much sense to join in the scorn.”

“And this is your real opinion! This is your final resolve! Very well. I shall now know how to act. Do not imagine, Miss Bennet, that your ambition will ever be gratified. I came to try you. I hoped to find you reasonable; but, depend upon it, I will carry my point.

The question answered in my story is how far will Lady Catherine carry her point to separate Elizabeth from Darcy?

____________________

She thought him dead. Now only he can save their daughter.

When Lady Catherine de Bourgh told Elizabeth Bennet: “And this is your real opinion! This is your final resolve! Very well. I shall now know how to act. Do not imagine, Miss Bennet, that your ambition will ever be gratified. I came to try you. I hoped to find you reasonable; but, depend upon it, I will carry my point,” no one knew how vindictive and manipulative her ladyship might prove, but Darcy and Elizabeth were about to discover the bitter truth for themselves.

This is a story of true love conquering even the most dire circumstances. Come along with our dear couple as they set a path not only to thwart those who stand between them and happiness, but to forge a family, one not designed by society’s strict precepts, but rather one full of hope, honor, loyalty and love.

Excerpt from Chapter One (Read the beginning of this chapter at AustenAuthors.net today and enter to win there, as well.)

Even after reaching England, it had taken them another two days to maneuver up the Thames and dock in London. In all, he had spent three weeks with the crew of The Resolution, an appropriate name for a ship that brought about an ending to his ordeal, who once they had retrieved him from the water and had heard his tale, had altered their course to trap those on The Lost Sparrow in the cove before the pirates could respond. They may have made it to England sooner if they were not required to tow The Lost Sparrow into port, but Darcy knew satisfaction when he finally stepped down on the docks in London, where his nightmare had begun. The clothes he wore had been borrowed from various members of The Resolution’s crew. They were ill-fitting, but so much more than the rags he had known since being pressed into service on The Lost Sparrow.

Wilder had hired a hackney to return Darcy to Darcy House. Now, as he stepped down before his London home, people stared at him in distaste as he approached the door and released the knocker, but Darcy made himself not turn around, concentrating all his energies on surviving the next few minutes. He knew his appearance was less than pristine for he wore mismatched clothes several sizes too large for him. One step at a time—the advice from Bruester, who had heard from his parents in a letter how Lord Matlock had moved to declare Darcy as dead after the authorities had found his cane and the ring he had purchased for Elizabeth somewhere upon the docks, rattled about in Darcy’s head. Therefore, he did not know what to expect when the door opened, but any preparations he had made mentally had not been enough.

“Yes, sir?” A man he did not recognize swung the door open.

“Where is Mr. Thacker?” he asked before he could stop himself.

“Mr. Thacker has taken another position, sir. That was nearly four years past.” The man pulled himself up stiffly. “I am Mr. Jones. Do you have business with the master?” The man eyed Darcy’s mishmash of clothing up and down and edged the door partially closed.

“The master?” Darcy asked. He knew his voice held surprise, but there was no way to control his reaction to this new reality.

“Mr. Fitzwilliam.” Again, the door moved another inch closer to being slammed in Darcy’s face.

Darcy employed his best Master of Pemberley voice. “Yes, I would like to speak to Mr. Fitzwilliam.” The idea the Matlocks had taken over his house did not set well with him. If he were dead, it should be Samuel Darcy residing in this house, not the colonel. His father’s cousin, Samuel, was the heir to the Darcy fortune, not those in the Fitzwilliam family.

“Who is it, Jones?” a familiar voice called out from the second storey landing.

“I am not certain, sir.” Jones narrowed the opening.

Darcy caught the edge of the door and gave it a good shove, sending the butler stumbling backward. “Fitzwilliam!” he called, using his shoulder to barrel his way into the foyer.

From above, he heard his cousin cry out, “What the—?”

Darcy paused from his exertion to look up. “Why are you acting as master of my my house?” he demanded.

His cousin caught hard at the railing. “My God, Darcy. It is you.”

“Most assuredly, it is I.” He started for the stairs, but two unfamiliar footmen stepped before him. “Have you removed all who once served me?” he questioned, a scowl of disapproval forming on his features.

Fitzwilliam gestured the servants from his way. “Permit Mr. Darcy admittance,” his cousin instructed. “After all, as he says, this is his house.”

As Darcy climbed the stairs, never removing his eyes from his cousin, he ordered, “Mr. Jones, if you expect to retain your position, bring me a small meal and a proper cup of tea and do so quickly.”

“Yes, sir,” the man called as he scrambled away.

Fitzwilliam appeared as stunned as was Darcy. There was no embrace of emotions. Only something that appeared like regret upon the colonel’s features showed. “Lead on, Cousin,” Darcy said through tight lips, a feeling of betrayal settling in his chest. “I am most eager to hear your explanations.”

Without uttering a word, Fitzwilliam turned crisply upon his heels and preceded Darcy into the study. In anger, Darcy purposely closed the door behind them.

His cousin crossed to the tray holding a decanter of brandy. “May I pour you a drink?”

Darcy eyed the room. Subtle changes had been made in the furnishings of the room. At least all he held dear had not been set aside. “I will pass. I fear I will require a clear head to understand what has gone on in my absence?”

Fitzwilliam turned toward him, his features grim. His cousin was a man Darcy had always trusted, but, now, he wondered if he had made a serious mistake in judgment. “It is not as this must first appears,” his cousin pleaded. “What I have done, I did so to protect your interests and your sister.”

Darcy thought to assume the chair behind the desk, but, rather, he chose the two wing chairs before the hearth. “I am willing to listen, but know I have recently been in the company of Captain Robert Bruester, who had heard from his family that Matlock has attempted to have me declared dead.”

“Bruester? I thought him at sea,” Fitzwilliam remarked as he joined Darcy before the empty hearth. The colonel studied Darcy carefully.

“He was. As was I until I managed to escape the pirate ship upon which I have been held for nearly four years.” He nodded to his cousin. “Was my uncle successful? Must I begin my return to the world by proving I am truly alive?”

“A pirate ship? My God, Darcy! I would never have thought you had been caught by a press gang. We assumed you had been robbed and tossed into the Thames.”

Darcy held himself very stiff. “It is not that I object to making an explanation regarding my capture and my escape, but I require some answers from you first.”

Fitzwilliam nodded his agreement. With a heavy sigh, he began, “We were all at sixes and sevens when you did not show at your wedding.”

Darcy wished to ask of Elizabeth, but his first task was to learn where his father’s legacy stood before he could inquire of Elizabeth Bennet’s fate.

“What did you do?”

If Fitzwilliam had expected Darcy to ask of Elizabeth, the colonel quickly hid his curiosity. He permitted Darcy to dictate their conversation. “Georgiana and I returned to London, and I began to trace your steps. The day your sister and I departed for Netherfield, you were to retrieve Miss Elizabeth’s ring from the jeweler. That is where I began.”

“And you discovered?” Darcy questioned.

“Very much what I shared a moment ago. I employed the services of my friend Thomas Cowan, who you might recall was a former Bow Street Runner. He and I called upon the jeweler, who assistant told us two men were seen following you when you exited the shop.”

Darcy wished he had paid more attention on that particular day, but his head was full of memories of Elizabeth Bennet, and he belatedly realized he had not practiced caution. “Why was not an alarm raised?”

“A series of excuses, but none worth pursuing,” his cousin said with a frown.  “The jeweler and his assistant each blamed the other for not performing as they should have. When we departed the jeweler, Cowan suggested we search the docks and question those who were employed there. One of your tasks that day was to see to a shipment in which you and father had invested.”

“That was my destination,” Darcy admitted, but he listened carefully to hear what the colonel left out of his tale.

“We learned of two ships that departed the night you left the jewelers. I spoke to everyone who would share information; yet, there were no substantial leads as to your whereabouts.”

Darcy remembered how the men who had caught him had struck him repeatedly until he had gone unconscious. When he finally woke up, The Lost Sparrow was departing the docks, but not those in London. He had been transported further down the Thames to somewhere in Kent.

Fitzwilliam continued, “Cowan located the ring and the cane in a pawn shop, and we traced the items backed to the man who pawned them. He swore he found them behind some crates near the docks.”

Darcy recalled throwing the ring away, hoping against hope the men only meant to rob him. He thought they might leave him be long enough for him to make an escape, but they ignored the box. They had ripped the cane from his hands as he had used it as a weapon against them and had tossed it aside also.

“There was nothing to connect him to your disappearance. If you say he was involved, I will have Cowan locate him and bring him in for questioning.”

Darcy shook off the idea. “I know the identities of those involved. There were five all together. Two were killed in a skirmish with another pirate ship and the other three are presently in the custody of the British navy, along with their captain and crew mates.”

“Were you never permitted on land in all those years?” Fitzwilliam asked in bewilderment.

“Not once,” Darcy said in deep sorrow. “I thought, especially in the beginning, I would go mad. Only the memories of Elizabeth and Georgiana kept me alive.”

“You wish to know of Miss Elizabeth’s fate?” Fitzwilliam asked in sympathetic tones, which made Darcy’s heart ache. How would he survive if she had married another?

“Not yet,” he said solemnly. “You still have not spoken to me of the earl’s efforts to declare me dead nor why you are at Darcy House rather than my father’s cousin, Samuel Darcy?”

Amazon https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0884F86FP

Kindle  https://www.amazon.com/Losing-Lizzy-Pride-Prejudice-Vagary-ebook/dp/B08886PXQG/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

Kobo https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/losing-lizzy

Nook https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/losing-lizzy-regina-jeffers/1137038434?ean=2940162951087

GIVEAWAY: To be entered into the giveaway of 3 eBook copies of “Losing Lizzy,” comment below. The Giveaway will close a midnight EST on Thursday, May 21.

 

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Queenborough Castle and Well + the Release of “Losing Lizzy: A Pride and Prejudice Vagary” + a Giveaway

The depiction of Queenborough Castle carved on the contemporary Baptismal font at Holy Trinity Church, Queenborough (an engraving published in London in 1845). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Queenborough_Castle#/media/File:Queenborough_Castle_font_image.png

Sheppey Castle [or Queenborough Castle] is located on the Isle of Sheppey, Kent, England. King Edward III ordered the castle and the town surrounding it built in honor of his wife, Queen Philippa. The original land came from the manor of Rushenden at the fishing hamlet known as Bynne (or Bynnee). Construction began in 1361, during a period when there was a peaceful interlude in the Hundred Years’ War. The royal family also considered it a possible refuge in case of another plague arriving on London’s docks, as the Black Death had come to London in the 1350s. The castle was the first concentric castle built in England and the only “royal” castle to be built from the floor up during the Late Middle Ages. It overlooked the Swale, which is an important part of the River Medway’s Estuary and the defense of the Thames Estuary and, therefore, of London. Moreover, the French had raided the south coast of England at Rye and at Winchelsea during March 1360. A way to defend London from invaders was required. For more than 300 years, Queenborough Castle formed part of the coastal defense of England. 

Its construction employed some 1600 craftsmen and labourers at a cost of £20,000. The large circular castle was complete in 1367. It was buttressed by six projecting towers. A outer circular wall and moat surrounded the main building. Queenborough was one of the first English castles built to withstand siege artillery and to mount guns itself. Water was channelled from the roofs through lead piping into storage cisterns for use by the inhabitants of the castle. In 1393, a contractor spent over a year digging a well in the center of the courtyard. The Queenborough well plays a major role in my latest novel, Losing Lizzy: A Pride and Prejudice Vagary

A 1784 engraving of Queenborough Castle based on a drawing by Wenceslaus Hollar (1607-1677). Published in 1915. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Queenborough_Castle#/media/File:Queenborough_Castle_1784.png

Queenborough Castle came into the possession of the Commonwealth after the execution of King Charles I. In 1650, Parliament ordered an update on the condition of the building, which was judged to be so unfit that it should be demolished. The castle was sold to John Wilkinson for a little less than £1800. Wilkinson demolished the castle down to its foundations and sold the materials to make a slight profit. The Royal Navy surveyed the well which had survived the demolition and found it to be 200 feet deep and lined with Portland stone. At the time, they were able to extract water from the well for use at the dockyard at Sheerness. The site is now a public park and only some low earthworks remain of what was once its grandeur.

Arriving Tomorrow, May 16, 2020

Losing Lizzy: A Pride and Prejudice Vagary 

She thought him dead. Now only he can save their daughter.

When Lady Catherine de Bourgh told Elizabeth Bennet: “And this is your real opinion! This is your final resolve! Very well. I shall now know how to act. Do not imagine, Miss Bennet, that your ambition will ever be gratified. I came to try you. I hoped to find you reasonable; but, depend upon it, I will carry my point,” no one knew how vindictive and manipulative her ladyship might prove, but Darcy and Elizabeth were about to discover the bitter truth for themselves.

This is a story of true love conquering even the most dire circumstances. Come along with our dear couple as they set a path not only to thwart those who stand between them and happiness, but to forge a family, one not designed by society’s strict precepts, but rather one full of hope, honor, loyalty and love.

Teaser from Chapter Twelve: 

“Mr. Darcy,” his coachman pleaded. “This is a dangerous endeavor. I must advise you against entering the well.”

Darcy continued to release the buttons on his waistcoat. His greatcoat, dress coat, and hat rested upon the ground near where his carriage sat ready. “I did not realize the well had collapsed further,” he admitted. “I know my efforts are likely futile, but I cannot walk away until I attempt to discover for certain whether my daughter is lying at the bottom. Even if she has not survived this abuse exacted against her, Elizabeth Anne should look down from heaven and know her father loved her enough to enact the impossible in her name.”

Both his coachman and footman nodded sharply, tears evident in their eyes. “We will support you, sir.” Jasper said. “Do what you must. We will not abandon you.”

Mr. Farrin backed the coach close to where the Queenborough Castle well once stood. Traces of the bricks and the hole were all any of them could see: A gaping hole—one reportedly more than a hundred feet deep.

Darcy tied the rope about his waist as Jasper placed a three-inch wide tree limb through the back wheels of the carriage to keep it from rolling. They had tied the other end of the rope to the carriage’s chassis. Mr. Farrin stood at the head, holding the horses in place, prepared to pull Darcy out if he encountered difficulties.

“We only have fifty feet of rope, sir. Not enough to reach the bottom,” Jasper cautioned.

“I understand.” If Elizabeth Anne was alive at the bottom of the well, Darcy would purchase every length of rope in Kent in order to reach her, and if she had died at the hands of Townsend, he would pay to have an expert climber retrieve his child’s body, see her buried properly, and, then, personally hunt down Townsend and exact his own revenge. Upon The Lost Sparrow, Darcy had learned several unique methods of torture, and he would see each performed on Townsend before the man died. “Perhaps there is enough to learn the truth. That is all I ask.”

Amazon https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0884F86FP

Kindle  https://www.amazon.com/Losing-Lizzy-Pride-Prejudice-Vagary-ebook/dp/B08886PXQG/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

Kobo https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/losing-lizzy

Nook https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/losing-lizzy-regina-jeffers/1137038434?ean=2940162951087

GIVEAWAY! I HAVE 2 eBOOK COPIES OF “LOSING LIZZY: A PRIDE AND PREJUDICE VAGARY AVAILABLE FOR THOSE WHO COMMENT BELOW. THE GIVEAWAY ENDS AT MIDNIGHT ON FRIDAY, MAY 22, 2020.

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The “Comedy” Found in Jane Austen’s Novels

According to Literary Devices, “Comedy is a literary genre and a type of dramatic work that is amusing and satirical in its tone, mostly having a cheerful ending. The motif   of this dramatic work is triumph over unpleasant circumstance by creating comic effects, resulting in a happy or successful conclusion. There are five types of comedy in literature:

Romantic comedy involves a theme of love leading to a happy conclusion. We find romantic comedy in Shakespearean plays and some Elizabethan contemporaries. These plays are concerned with idealized love affairs. It is a fact that true love never runs smoothly; however, love overcomes difficulties and ends in a happy union.

“Ben Johnson is the first dramatist who conceived and popularized comedy of humors. The term humor derives from the Latin word humor, which means “liquid.” It comes from a theory that the human body has four liquids, or humors, which include phelgm, blood, yellow bile, and black bile. It explains that, when human beings have a balance of these humors in their bodies, they remain healthy.

Comedy of Manners deals with intrigues and relations of ladies and gentlemen living in a sophisticated society. This form relies upon high comedy, derived from sparkle and wit of dialogues, violations of social traditions, and good manners, by nonsense characters like jealous husbands, wives, and foppish dandies. We find its use in Restoration dramatists, particularly in the works of Wycherley and Congreve.

Sentimental drama contains both comedy and sentimental tragedy. It appears in literary circles due to reaction of the middle class against obscenity and indecency of Restoration Comedy of Manners. This form, which incorporates scenes with extreme emotions evoking excessive pity, gained popularity among the middle class audiences in the eighteenth century.

Tragicomedy contains both tragic and comedic elements. It blends both elements to lighten the overall mood of the play. Often, tragicomedy is a serious play that ends happily.”

English literature has a long history of comedic novels. “The phrase Romantic novel has several possible meanings. Here it refers to novels written during the Romantic era in literary history, which runs from the late 18th century until the beginning of the Victorian era in 1837. But to complicate matters there are novels written in the romance tradition by novelists like Sir Walter Scott, Nathaniel Hawthorne, George Meredith. In addition the phrase today is mostly used to refer to the popular fiction genre that focusses on romantic love. The Romantic period is especially associated with the poets William Blake, William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, George Byron, Percy Shelley and John Keats, though two major novelists, Jane Austen and Walter Scott, also published in the early 19th century.” (English novelLater, England gave us the likes of Charles Dickens, Lewis Carroll, Oscar Wilde, etc. 

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One thing that is obvious when studying Austen’s works is that her books are not all great comic hits. Let’s face it: Persuasion, Emma, and Mansfield Park lack the comedic elements found in Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Northanger Abbey, and my comedic favorite, Lady SusanPride and Prejudice provides us with a parade of comedic characters: Mr. Bennet (charming , but indolence), Mrs. Bennet (obsessed with marrying off her daughters), Lydia and Kitty Bennet (silly girls), Mary Bennet (moralizing), Jane Bennet (too good to be true, crafted in Cinderella’s image), Caroline Bingley and Louisa Hurst (snobbish and conniving women), Sir William Lucas (living beyond his means), Mr. Collins (bungling and long-winded), and Lady Catherine de Bourgh (proud beyond reason). Only Darcy and Elizabeth escape the stroke of the comic elements for they are the “romance” in the romantic comedy. Although often they do not act with reason at times in the story, especially with their initial dismissal of each other as a potential mate, they are not characters to be laughed at. Note Austen’s many hints to that fact: 

“I am excessively diverted. ” 

Elizabeth laughed heartily at this picture of herself, and said to Colonel Fitzwilliam, “Your cousin will give you a very pretty notion of me, and teach you not to believe a word I say. I am particularly unlucky in meeting with a person so well able to expose my real character, in a part of the world where I had hoped to pass myself off with some degree of credit. Indeed, Mr. Darcy, it is very ungenerous in you to mention all that you knew to my disadvantage in Hertfordshire — and, give me leave to say, very impolitic too — for it is provoking me to retaliate, and such things may come out, as will shock your relations to hear.”

“I am not afraid of you,” said he, smilingly.

“She began now to comprehend that he was exactly the man who, in disposition and talents, would most suit her. His understanding and temper, though unlike her own, would have answered all her wishes. It was an union that must have been to the advantage of both: by her ease and liveliness, his mind might have been softened, his manners improved; and from his judgement, information, and knowledge of the world, she must have received benefit of greater importance.” 

The acknowledged lovers talked and laughed, the unacknowledged were silent. Darcy was not of a disposition in which happiness overflows in mirth; and Elizabeth, agitated and confused, rather knew that she was happy than felt herself to be so; for, besides the immediate embarrassment, there were other evils before her. She anticipated what would be felt in the family when her situation became known; she was aware that no one liked him but Jane; and even feared that with the others it was a dislike which not all his fortune and consequence might do away.

“But, Lizzy, you look as if you did not enjoy it.  You are not going to be missish, I hope, and pretend to be affronted at an idle report.  For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbors, and laugh at them in our turn?” 

“Nothing so easy, if you have but the inclination,” said Elizabeth. “We can all plague and punish one another. Teaze him — laugh at him. — Intimate as you are, you must know how it is to be done.”

“But upon my honour I do not. I do assure you that my intimacy has not yet taught me that. Teaze calmness of temper and presence of mind! No, no — I feel he may defy us there. And as to laughter, we will not expose ourselves, if you please, by attempting to laugh without a subject. Mr. Darcy may hug himself.”

“Mr. Darcy is not to be laughed at!” cried Elizabeth. “That is an uncommon advantage, and uncommon I hope it will continue, for it would be a great loss to me to have many such acquaintance. I dearly love a laugh.”

“Miss Bingley,” said he, “has given me credit for more than can be. The wisest and the best of men, nay, the wisest and best of their actions, may be rendered ridiculous by a person whose first object in life is a joke.”

“Certainly,” replied Elizabeth — “there are such people, but I hope I am not one of them. I hope I never ridicule what is wise or good. Follies and nonsense, whims and inconsistencies do divert me, I own, and I laugh at them whenever I can. — But these, I suppose, are precisely what you are without.”

“Laugh as much as you chuse, but you will not laugh me out of my opinion. My dearest Lizzy, do but consider in what a disgraceful light it places Mr. Darcy, to be treating his father’s favourite in such a manner, — one, whom his father had promised to provide for. — It is impossible. No man of common humanity, no man who had any value for his character, could be capable of it. Can his most intimate friends be so excessively deceived in him? oh! no.”

hugh grant edward ferrars.jpg In Austen’s works and others that followed, the comedy is used to depict a series of stumbles before the hero and heroine are joined in a “happily ever after” type marriage. The couple manages to fall into one mess after the other and climbs over, through, and around a number of obstacles before they can claim what the reader hopes will be an ideal marriage. Those obstacles follow a particular pattern or motif: 

  1. intervention by a busybody, know-it all (i.e., Darcy and the Bingley sisters’ intervention in the life of Charles Bingley and Jane Bennet in Pride and Prejudice and Emma’s intervention in the life of Harriet Smith and Robert Martin in Emma)
  2. prior commitments (i.e., Darcy’s supposed engagement to his cousin Anne de Bourgh in Pride and Prejudice and Edward Ferrars’s engagement to Lucy Steele in Sense and Sensibility)
  3. opposition of the old to the idea of young love (i.e., Lady Russell opposes Anne Elliot aligning herself with Captain Frederick Wentworth in Persuasion; Fanny Price’s coming to live at Mansfield Park was originally argued by Sir Thomas, who worried about his sons’ approximation with a girl of no fortune. Also in Mansfield Park,  Mrs. Norris is far more concerned with rank and status than her sister, Lady Bertram. She doesn’t view Fanny Price with same respect and care she reserves for her Bertram nieces, Maria and Julia. She is generally dismissive of Fanny especially, and is very callous about Fanny’s health and well-being—much to Edmund’s intense annoyance and displeasure. 
  4. initial hostilities between the hero and heroine based on misunderstandings (i.e. Darcy and Elizabeth are placed behind the eight ball due to their faulty first impressions.)
  5. misjudging the true hero, preferring instead the “perfection” of the conniving pretty boy (i.e., Elizabeth Bennet’s preference for George Wickham and Marianne Dashwood’s preference for Mr. Willoughby)
  6. manipulations of the hero’s rival (i.e., George Wickham’s tales of woes to destroy Darcy’s reputations, George Wickham’s elopement with Lydia Bennet, and John Thorpe’s keeping Catherine Morland from Henry Tilney)

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Some often criticize Austen for not adding more social commentary to her stories—the slave trade, the lack of rights of women, etc.—but such does not fit the characteristics of the romantic comedy. That does not mean that Austen does not address the realities of life during the Regency era. Austen includes characters such as Lady Russell in Persuasion, who speaks of Anne’s inability to live on her own while Captain Wentworth is away at war. Then there is James Morland in Northanger Abbey. James is a bit naive, though he seems to suspect that something is seriously amiss with Isabella’s behavior fairly early. James definitely learns a harsh lesson about trusting people and forming relationships in the book, and it is a lesson that he imparts to Catherine, like a good, protective older brother. We see the same sensibility from Charlotte Lucas, who in Pride and Prejudice, agrees to marry Mr. Collins, although she would rather remain unmarried. She accepts what she cannot change and makes the best of it. All these characters bring social injustices to light, but these failures of humanity do not swallow up the tale. The simply remind the reader of what could happen in the real world. They do not take away from the happy ending expected in a romantic comedy. 

 

 

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