Hearts Through History Romance Writers

They Could be Twins

These two cousins looked exactly alike.  Their mothers were sisters, daughters of Christian IX of Denmark.

Who were they? tsar-nicholas-ii-and-george-v

Now, guess which is which.

Sometimes the families could not tell them apart when they were wearing each other’s uniforms, or in this case, Willy’s Prussian guard outfits.

Storm clouds were gathering on the horizon when this photo was taken.  And I don’t mean rain.

The Medieval Love Story

After years of reading and recycling books, I still have this one on my shelf:

Born in a fierce, feudal world as cruel as it was courtly, theirs was the rapturous love destined to change the face of the Irish nation forever.”

A Shield of Roses


The Prize of Sutton Place

“The domestic annals of this unobtrusive manor form a rude outline of the history of England.” — Frederic Harrison Annals of an Old Manor-house, Sutton Place, Guildford 

Sutton Place in Surrey was originally the site of King Edward the Confessor’s hunting lodge and for centuries St. Edward’s Well could be seen in the manor’s green. The lodge itself was suitable for housing a nobleman and at least six serfs as domestic staff. The manor’s land totaled 400 acres, supporting sixteen tenants who tilled part of it, the rest being a meadow for grazing and woodland for 25 pigs. Located between London and the important market town of Guildford, it was given to a Norman favorite of the Conqueror.


The Christmas Dog

From The Terrific Record and Chronicle of Remarkable and Interesting Events, Saturday, February 10, 1849, No. 1, a touching Christmas story:

There were once two families in England who were very close, counting one another among their closest friends. The London family made it a habit each year to spend Christmas at the home of the other family, who lived in Guildford. Every year, they journeyed into Surrey from London, their dog Caesar, a large spaniel, trotting before their carriage.

For seven years the two families would keep the holiday in this manner, the London family arriving on Christmas Eve and departing a few days later–that is, until a quarrel arose between them. Then all correspondence between them ceased and the customary Christmas invitation for that year was withheld. Christmas Dogs

“About an hour before dinner, on the day before Christmas-day, the Guildford gentleman, standing at his window, exclaimed to his wife–‘Well, my dear! The W_____’s have thought better of it; for I declare here comes Caesar to announce them!’ and the dog came trotting up to the door, and was admitted to the parlour, as usual.”

With joy, the house in Guildford was quickly made ready to receive the London family–fires lit throughout, beds made, Cook bustling in the kitchen to prepare a dinner. However, their London friends did not arrive and the dinner grew cold.

After several days, the exact duration his family always stayed, Caesar left Guildford and returned safely to his home in London.

The sagacity of dogs was well-known, in both London and Guildford. However, this fresh demonstration of man’s best friend’s understanding of time was a remarkable event, such that,

“The correspondence which of necessity occurred, had the happy effect of renewing the intercourse of the estranged friends.”

Happy Holidays!






Thanksgiving – It’s Still Ours Today

Eilenburg, GermanyEilenburg was known as a center for German Reformation, prosperous and even boasting a walled exterior by the late sixteenth century. It was greatly favored by its Duke, George of Saxony.

Martin Luther called it a blessed lard pit.

Then came the Thirty Years’ War. By that time, Martin Rinkart (1586 – 1649) had become one of four pastors serving the town. Hundreds of refugees fleeing the fighting had taken shelter in Eilenburg and soon disease spread, culminating in the Great Pestilence. Afterwards came famine and it was not uncommon to see wretches in the street fighting over dead animals to eat.

One of the pastors fled the town and refused to return. The other two died, leaving Rinkart to officiate at their funerals in addition to many, many more, almost 4,500 in all. Not even his wife was spared.

Nevertheless, Rinkart still found time to compose prayer. The following offer of thanksgiving is his most famous, written to comfort his children:

Happy ThanksgivingNow thank we all our God

With hearts and hands and voices;

Who wondrous things hath done,

In whom this world rejoices.

Who, from our mother’s arms,

Hath led us on our way,

With countless gifts of love,

And still is ours today.

reposted (with minor adjustments) from Angelyn’s blog 

“Thy Skull Discern a Deeper Hell”

Many readers of Regency-era literature recognize the name “Monk” Lewis.

But who the devil was the fellow?

Monk Lewis

Matthew Gregory Lewis (1775 – 1818) was the son of a wealthy Jamaican planter. His mother ran off with the music teacher when her son was six. He later supported her financially and socially, and then she became lady-in-waiting to the Princess of Wales.

His success was almost entirely dependent on his classic tale of The Monk. This was the Gothic poem of a holy man’s descent into depraved evil:

She sealed his lips with a wanton kiss;

‘Though I forgive your breaking your vows to heaven,

I expect you to keep your vows to me.’

It was an astonishing success, all the more so because the author was not of age. The first edition was followed by a second and third. The most objectionable passages were edited out for having caused much grief to his family. Someone said of Lewis, and perhaps others:

“Twenty is not the age at which prudence is most to be expected.”

He never married. When he came into his fortune, the aristocrats who had previously welcomed him into their salons–the Hollands, Lansdowne and others–now despised him. Lewis pouted at first, reading during dinner and criticizing the company to be had at Oatlands.

Oh! Wonder-working Lewis! Monk, or Bard

Who’d fain would make Parnassus a church-yard

Lo, the wreaths of yew, not laurel, wreath thy brow

Thy Muse a Sprite! Apollo’s sexton, Thou!

—-Byron in English Bards and Scotch Reviewers

Even his fellow poets attacked him, and over one work alone. What was it about The Monk that attracted such great vitriol?

The Monk

The work was a morality plot, normally despised by the young, but delivered so cleverly that even Austen’s Northanger Abbey was bound to mention it as the best thing since Tom Jones. All harkened to it like a Pied Piper with its horrific plot and violent supernaturalism. Rape, live burial, grisly murder and the downfall of the once-sanctified and now defiled.  These lurid themes became interwoven in a new genre–the Gothic tale.

It was all Lewis was ever known for. But it was enough.


originally posted on my blog, November 10th, 2012