Mimi Matthews is my go-to expert for anything Victorian. She’s a fantastic resource for 19th-century etiquette, fashion, beauty, and more. It is worth subscribing to her newsletter and blog if you wish to learn more about the era.
Below is a link to fashionable gowns that will make you want to throw away your jeans and tee-shirts. Enjoy!
“The 1880s ushered in an era of tailored, close-fitting gowns, some of which were almost masculine in appearance. These gowns exemplified women’s changing roles in society.”
As part of my research for Lady Grace, I needed to know how families were notified of the death of their loved ones. The next of kin of officers often received telegrams, while the families of non-officers received a letter. The link to the article below talks more of the sad process during World War One and contains examples of correspondence.
From looking at the demise of my distant cousins in the war, I discovered that their bodies were never returned to their homeland. They were buried where they fell in the distant lands of France, Belgium, and Turkey. Not having their bodies returned to be buried near their families surely added to the grief.
I’m reminded of the movie Water Diviner, with Russell Crowe, that was released a few years ago. It’s a story about three of his sons who died in the battle at Gallipoli, Turkey (where Thomas Holland, my second cousin also fell). He travels to the far away land to search for their bodies and give them a proper burial. You can read my review about the movie at my entertainment blog by CLICKING HERE. (“This film is dedicated to all those who remain ‘lost and nameless’ and who live on in the hearts and memories of their families.”)
The book Lady Grace is a bit more somber than Lady Isabella and focuses on loneliness, young love, and grief as its themes. Grief can come in many forms and is not always about losing a loved one in death. We grieve over bad decisions, the things we never did, the love we never knew, and the love we lost, among other events in our lives.
When I set Lady Grace during World War I, there were two choices for her manor home. One was to take in wounded soldiers for recuperation like those in Downton Abbey, and the other was a lesser known occurrence during the war – the influx of 250,000 Belgian refugees integrated into society. In the end, I decided to take the second route, because I had read quite a bit about it during my own ancestral research in Manchester during the war years.
I discovered that Salford, where my grandparents were born, welcomed refugees. The city, at first, set up temporary housing using schools and other public buildings. However, as the wounded returned from the front and hospitals filled, the refugees needed to find other places to live. As the influx increased, many British households opened their doors to families and housed them until the war ended. A Belgian Relief Fund was established to aid in the expenses of their accommodations.
Linked to this post is an article that I discovered on BBC News, which is an excellent look into the refugees and how they were quickly forgotten after the war ended. The migration of refugees to foreign countries is not new by any means and often occurred during historical periods of world strife.
In my book, Lady Grace, her household takes in two families. They are the center of the story and the avenue upon which Grace discovers how easy it is to become a fallen woman during stressful times.
I really wanted to put a man in uniform on the cover of Lady Grace. Days – I spent days hunting pictures on stock photo websites. Only a few decent ones came up after searching World War One soldiers, most of which could not be used because they were editorial. (In case you don’t know what that means, they cannot be used for commercial purposes like book covers because there is no model release. For example, taking photos of men in uniform during a public re-enactment exercise.) However, I did find one I really wanted but they wanted $300 for usage rights. (Gasp for a tiny image in the background behind Grace.) CLICK HERE TO SEE IT
After giving up there, I went to the public domain and did find a few that I downloaded. In fact, I had been ready to put the face of one particular gent on the cover and a horrible pang of guilt sliced through my heart. I had no idea who the man was or whether he survived the Great War. After going through a guilt trip of using another person’s image, who had no say in the matter because he was long dead, I came to the conclusion – no photos of soldiers on the cover.
That doesn’t mean, however, that I cannot share them in this blog post of dashing British officers that served in the war. A few of these soldiers are breathtakingly handsome. Since Grace is married to a man in his forties, I thought the man in the center with the mustache and his hands behind his back would be a perfect representation of the middle-aged gent she wed.
Here they are – most with mustaches but a couple of clean-shaven British males, circa 1914-1918.
In closing, if you are looking for public domain photography or illustrations, visit Flickr. The British Library has posted over 1,000,000 items that are free for use. All you need to do is give the credit as I have done above. Here is the HOME PAGE.
Researching this story timeline is an interesting and somewhat sobering journey.
I am aware of some things during that time period because my ancestors lived in the Manchester area during the war years of 1914-1918. I have a few reference books with newspaper articles that give insight into the times and struggles at home while the men were away fighting.
My ancestors lost sons and husbands to the war, which are my second cousins two times removed on the generational chart. (This means we share the same third great-grandfather. Their fathers were my second great uncles, Robert Holland and Henry Holland.) Since I’m an avid ancestry nut, I have been able to trace military records and references to their losses. Below is a sampling of the information I have discovered.
The story of Lady Grace will include two men in the military – Grace’s husband Benedict and Arabella, her friend, whose husband Thomas has left for war. What happens to them while they are away, of course, you’ll find out when you read the story. However, the main focus will be the women left behind during turbulent times.
In honor of my relatives who lost their lives during World War I, which I hope you don’t mind me sharing with you, are noted below. When I think about them, it saddens me that they perished at so young an age never able to live out their days. May we never forget the sacrifice of the millions who died during this world conflict and others. You will note that their bodies never returned home and are buried where they died in France, Belgium, Turkey, and India.
Name: Thomas Douglas Holland
Death Date: June 5, 1915
Death Place: Gallipoli
Buried: Helles Memorial Cemetery in Gallipoli, Canakkale, Turkey
Rank Private – Regiment Manchester Regiment – Battalion 1st 6th Battalion
Type of Casualty Killed in Action – Theatre of War Balkan Theatre
The National Roll of the Great War (Entry)
“Holland, T. D. Pte. 6th Manchester Regiment. He volunteered in August 1914, and sailed for Egypt in the same month. From Egypt he proceeded to Gallipoli in April 1915, and took part in the famous landing at Cape Helles, ever memorable for the magnificent bravery displayed. In the second Krithia Battle in June 1915, he fell fighting gallantly and was entitled to the 1914-15 Star, and the General Service and Victory medals. “Great deeds cannot die.”
Frederick John Holland
Died May 8, 1918
Killed in Action France
Place of Burial: Perth Cemetery (China Wall), Leper, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium
Regimental Number: New Zealand Expeditionary Force, 2nd, Service #57847, New Zealand Entrenching Battalion, 2nd
Major George Henry Holland
Died May 15, 1918
Killed in Action France
Buried Euston Road Cemetary, Colincamps, Departement de la Somme, Picardie, France
New Zealand Army
Corporal John Holland Sapsford Died November 4, 1918
Killed just one week before the end of WW1 in India.
Buried C W G cemetery in Rawalpindi (now in Pakistan).
Royal Field Artillery
Name noted on St. James War Memorial along with Thomas Holland, both grandsons of Robert Holland.
Private Harry Walton Died February 6, 1917
Killed in Action France
Lancashire Fusiliers, 2nd Battalion
Private Gilbert Hough Died October 9, 1917
Killed in Action Belgium
Lancashire Fusiliers, 2nd Battalion
Buried Tyne Cot Memorial – Zonnebeke, Arrondissement Ieper, West Flanders (West-Vlaanderen), Belgium
Lady Isabella is out for editing, and it should be ready for release February 1 in eBook and print.
After mulling over a few story lines and time eras, I felt compelled to backtrack to the time period of World War 1 for my next story entitled Lady Grace. I had thought about choosing other names for the title, but the name Grace stuck with me because of the personality of the young woman that I will be writing about.
In 1914, Grace has given birth to her first child and her husband, Benedict Russell, has left for the front. Of course, anytime that I decide to write about something new, I’m strolling down research lane. The premise of this story is going to make me study more than fashion, makeup, and hair. It’s also going to cause me to research England during World War I and the sacrifices that its citizens made while men gave their lives on the battlefield.
Already, I have chosen a cover for this new work and hope that you find the picture of Grace dressed in red, standing among a field of poppies, a poignant reminder of the times. Gazing at the cover helps me develop the character as I write the story. I can’t tell you how many times I will pause in a portion of a book, glance over at the face of my heroine or hero, and wait for the inspiration to know what they would say or do next. It’s a way of looking into their faces and becoming who they are so I can bring them to life on the page. Hopefully, each of these fallen ladies in this series of books will have vastly different personalities.
In the meantime, stay tuned for Isabella! For her story, too, set in 1930 will hopefully be an entertaining one. I will let you know when it’s release. Those on my mailing list will get an email, too. If you haven’t subscribed to my newsletter for release notices, you can do so by following this LINK.
It’s difficult to phantom that another year has flown by. It’s time to say goodbye to 2016 and welcome 2017.
This past year has been a busy one with the release of The Price of Passion, a Portrait of Perfection, and A Christmas Mission. In addition, I did new covers for The Legacy Series and continued to update the old text with updated versions.
The poor and trampled upon The Price of Innocence continues to receive its critics on Amazon, but strangely enough, on other retailers, it does far better. The iTunes version has over 349 reviews averaging at 4.5, while Amazon has plummeted to 3.2 with 103 reviews after my BookBub advertisement. I take it on the chin because I know there are many who love the series but may be too shy to review. (The advertisement, however, gave me a huge sales spike for the series so I can’t complain.)
With my various releases under my real name and two pen names, I’m now up to fourteen books. Unfortunately for some, I have kept my Nora Covington novellas (Thorncroft Manor, Whitefield Hall, and Blythe Court) exclusively in Kindle Unlimited. Eventually, I plan to pull them from KU in 2017 (because of reported problems on page reads at Amazon’s end) and release them on all venues. That also includes my contemporary romance, Conflicting Hearts.
There are often times when I swear I’ve written enough books, but then my brain comes up with another story and I continue to live through my characters. Escaping into another world is as therapeutic for authors as it is for readers. I liken myself to the movie Anonymous, where the main character states, “The voices! I can’t stop them. They come to me. I would go mad if I didn’t write down what the voices say.” Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford. Really, though, I’m not that schizophrenic.
In 2017, I hope to release three works again – perhaps four, depending on my ambition. Lady Isabella is finished and off to editing. It’s scheduled for a February 1 release date. Afterward, Lady Charlotte will portray her own scandalous ways, while in the background I’m going to work on my time-travel world back into the Victorian era. Frankly, I’m writing this one for my own escape, but hopefully, you’ll take the journey with me and enjoy a rather light-hearted fall back into time.
I do plan on at least three books in the series of Ladies of Disgrace but doubt that I will get to the third in 2017. However, you never know.
Of course, I am sure that you have your personal thoughts about the year past and the year ahead. Each of us reflect on our lives at year’s end and gaze hopefully into the coming months ahead. As my readers who have enjoyed my stories, I am forever grateful that you have allowed me to entertain you with my ramblings on paper this past year. May you close out this year with happiness and enter into the next with hopefulness.
Lady Isabella is in editing! Release is scheduled for February 1, 2017. I have been editing using Grammarly and ProWriting, checking the placement of commas, rewriting sentences, fixing grammar, and will soon send it off to an expert editor who knows better than software programs. Victory Editing has been booked to do the final pass in early January. Afterward, my first lady of scandal will be released in eBook and Print. I may do audio as well.
Since all of my ladies of disgrace will be in red dresses, I thought I would do some research on fashions for the 1930’s. Here is an interesting look at the modest fashions of the day for new holiday frocks. To read more, follow my Ladies of Disgrace blog (FOLLOW HERE) for interesting posts about my progress and upcoming books in the series. You might enjoy the various topics on the era’s fashions, makeup, and hairstyles.