Tag Archives: Eliza Redgold

Pretty Witty Nell: Our Lady of Laughter

Nell by Lauren Wilhelm

 

Of a great heroine I mean to tell,

And by what just degrees her titles swell,

To Mrs Nelly grown, from cinder Nell.

~ Anonymous: A Panegyric on Mrs Nelly (17th century)

There’s something about Nelly …. For centuries, Nell Gwynne has captured hearts and minds. What was Nell Gwynne’s secret? She was a woman who knew how to laugh. How to live. How to love. As an historical fiction/romance fan, I’ve always adored her. When I decided to take up my own quill and start writing fiction, I planned to write a version of her secret diary. For a couple of years I had a wonderful time playing with Nell, collected and read many books, and tracked down obscure historical sources. I then discovered there has been a Nell Gwynne boom – and a raft of novels had been written in celebrating her.  Instead of adding my own version, I moved on to writing other books. Little did I know that my husband was about to surprise me with a birthday gift of a specially commissioned portrait of Nell, painted by artist Lauren Wilhelm (photograph above). Now Nell lights up the stairwell in our home, and guides me upstairs to write.

If you don’t know her name, Nell’s is a real life Cinderella tale of 17th century England, of a low born ‘orange girl’ who became a famous actress and mistress to King Charles II.  We don’t know much about her; mainly that she captivated the King and theatre audiences with her wit. “What history and tradition tell us of Nell Gwyn has been told as a decorative romance, where no liberty has been taken with what we know or believe to be the truth,” wrote Marjorie Bowen in 1925.  “Fancy has been allowed to enlarge upon it … None of the details, however, outrage history or defy probability…” Even in the prim and proper 19th century, in the Victorian era, Nell remained beloved. A 1901 biography dubbed her ‘Our Lady of Laughter.’

MistressMy historical romance PLAYING THE DUKE’S MISTRESS (published by Harlequin, May 2016) is dedicated to Nell Gwynne. It is set in mid-Victorian London, when many actresses had to contend with being seen as title-hunters and gold-diggers – as Darius Carlyle, the Duke of Albury initially suspects actress Calista Fairmont to be. Yet not every actress wants a coronet …I do hope Nell approves!

 

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Meet Nell and some other authors who love her on my Pretty Witty Nell Pinterest Page. nell books

 

 

 

 

 

 

Candlemas for Writers

 

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Rosetti ‘Sibylla Palmifera’

February 2 is the feast of Candlemas. It’s a special day for writers. Traditionally, on this day, bees wax candles were blessed in churches before being taken home for use throughout the year. Candlemas was also a time when many women would make candles and re-stock their home supplies.  Candlemas coincides with Imbolc – the great fire and flame festival that rejoiced at the signs of winter ending and hastened the return of spring with its light filled days. This feast day is also sacred to Brigid, Celtic Goddess and saint.  Candlemas, or Imbolc, celebrates Brigid and the promise of the light and warmth.
Brigid is the patroness of all crafts. Metal work or smith craft was especially connected to Brigid. In some legends Brigid forged the great cauldron, the cup of life blessings, herself.
Smith craft has given shape to some of our earliest artefacts. Gold, silver, copper, iron, tin, lead and even mercury, once called quicksilver, have all been forged in the furnaces of time. Metal’s form can be altered through heat, known as annealing, and reshaped while red hot, before setting and cooling down. Metal can be worked in its pure state, or its strength and hardness altered by making it into an alloy, by mixing it with another metal. From metal, smiths have wrought horseshoes, swords, gates, and of course, candle sticks.
The word metal itself comes from the meaning to search after. Alchemists searched for the philosopher’s stone, the ability to transform base metals into gold. “The alchemists said that their prima materia (their prime material) could be found anywhere, rejected as useless by common man, but capable of being distilled and transformed into purest gold,” explains Gareth Knight in his book Magic and the Western Mind.  “So it is with the imagination. It is there for any to use, free to all, yet few realize its true potential or try to distil it to a precious quintessence.”
“‘But what gold? How will I know the gold?’ You will know the gold,” writes the author of The Artist’s Way and creativity coach Julia Cameron in her book The Vein of Gold. Creativity is an alchemical process that can transform the metal of your daily life. You can distil your dreams into gold, with the craft of your hands.

The ringing of its busy bent anvils, The sound of songs from poet’s tongues, The heat of men at clean contest, The beauty of its women at high assembly, Blessings on the forge!                                ~ Irish, traditional

Craftspeople of long ago would clean and prepare their tools on Brigid’s feast day to bring good fortune for the year ahead. It’s a lovely custom for writers:
•       Clean and organize your writing space.  Clear your desk. Order shelves and drawers. Empty the waste paper basket. Dust and tidy. Establish harmony and order.
•       Bring as much natural light and air as you can into your workspace.
•       Clear out clutter on your computer or tablet. Delete excess files and emails.
•       Clean your writing tools. Treat them with care.
•       Re-stock on stationery and office supplies.
•       Evaluate your writing hopes, goals and dreams for the year.
•       Light a candle.
•       Forge ahead.

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Orana! Seasonal Wishes to You

Thank you to all the wonderful readers who have been in touch with me about my books. It’s been a real privilege and one I’ll reflect on over the festive season with gratitude.

cover43491-smallReaders of my Australian contemporary romance Hide and Seek know how much I love birds so here’s a link to the little known Australian Christmas carol: The Carol of the Birds written by William Garnet James & John Wheeler. (Orana is an Australian Aboriginal word meaning welcome.)

Season’s greetings!

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Cameo Portrait: Enticing Benedict Cole

CAMEO newsletter

An artist, a lady, a secret passion… 

When Benedict Cole shuns her request for painting lessons, Lady “Cameo” Catherine Mary St. Clair takes matters into her own hands. She arrives at Benedict’s studio, only to be mistaken for a model! It’s an opportunity she just can’t turn down…

Benedict knows better than to let intimacy interfere with his work, yet he can’t quell his fascination for the mysterious Cameo. And after one daring night together, everything changes. Will Cameo still be his muse when Benedict discovers who she really is?’

The heroine of Enticing Benedict Cole is Cameo. It really is a girl’s name. A cameo is a small carving in relief of a semi-precious stone. The lighter-coloured layer is chipped away to reveal a darker background. In the 19th century, when this story is set, cameo jewellery was popularised by Queen Victoria. At that time small cameo portraits were often painted of well-to-do young women to adorn jewellery, for a keepsake, or to give to a lover. The word cameo has an original Greek meaning of ‘shadow portrait’ – which became part of the story.

Enticing Benedict Cole cover

I collected quite a few cameos while writing the book, as you’ll see on my ‘Cameo Appearance’ Pinterest board. Any excuse will do – right?

Visit Eliza Redgold at Harlequin Mills and Boon for a free extract of Enticing Benedict Cole.

Best wishes,

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Lady Godiva’s Ride into New York

Eliza Redgold at the Flatiron Building New York

Eliza Redgold (Dr Elizabeth Reid Boyd) at the Flatiron Building New York

 

Of late I’ve been writing about Lady Godiva’s ride back into popular culture. I’m so excited to have the chance to present on NAKED at the Popular/American Culture Association in the US in 2015. Here’s the abstract for my academic paper:

‘The legend of Lady Godiva, who famously rode naked through the streets of Coventry covered only by her long, flowing hair, has lasted for centuries. Her tale has been revived and romanticized time and time again, especially during periods of change and liberation in women’s lives. This is one such time. Drawing upon the recently published NAKED: A Novel of Lady Godiva (St Martin’s Press) written by Eliza Redgold (the pseudonym of Dr Elizabeth Reid Boyd) this paper explores the stories surrounding Godiva. It reveals her history, her myth and how far back in time her legend goes, to Christian saints and pagan goddesses. Whether fact or fiction, Godiva of Coventry was a unique woman and a heroine in more ways than one: as sexual symbol, spiritual icon and political activist. In a single leap, she jumps the hurdle of the double-standard that divided women into saints or sinners. Her return to popular culture today heralds a new kind of (post)feminist freedom. Her courage continues to inspire, her tale to be told, even after a thousand years.  Godiva is more than a naked lady. She is an evocation of the divine.’

My paper will be accompanied by a slide show of images of Godiva through time. If you’d like to share some of these images, you can check them out at my guest post (thanks so much!) at A Bookish Affair or on my Lady Godiva Pinterest board.

I’ll also be in New York and will have a chance to thank the wonderful people at St Martin’s Press in the Flatiron Building who made publishing Godiva so magical.

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best wishes,

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A Grace for Books: Mindful Reading

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Why have we no grace for books, those spiritual repasts – a grace before Milton – a grace before Shakespeare – a devotional exercise proper to be said before reading the Faeire Queen?‘ ~ Charles Lamb

Of late I’ve been thinking about how we read. It has changed so much in the last decade, with e-books and reading on line. We still read (maybe even more than before) but we read differently (though many noblewomen in the past read romance and books on spirituality and self-development just like we do today!)

Historically, noblewomen used Books of Hours, beautiful books of prayers, to mark their time. Richly illuminated with pictures of saints, Bible stories, and even signs of the Zodiac, they were sometimes encrusted with jewels. Some called girdle books were small enough to be hung from the waist. Books of Hours contained a calendar, gospel lessons, psalms and special prayers to be said at certain hours of the day: Prime (6am, or upon waking) Terce (9am) Sext (midday) None (3pm) Vespers (6pm) and Compline (9pm, or upon retiring).

The illustration above is taken from a fifteenth century Book of Hours. She is Virgo (my star sign).  I’m going to try the custom of marking my time with a Book of Hours by doing some daily devotional reading.

If you want to join me, here’s how:

Select your own Book of Hours: a prayer book, a hymnal, a spiritual text, a day book, or even a book of poetry. From this book, choose a short quotation, text or excerpt to use as a daily devotional reading (it only needs to be a few lines long). Or you can simply open your chosen book by chance and read the first section you see. Read your quotation in the morning and again at night. Try this for about a month for the most benefit. If you skip a day, just go back to it the next.

Alternatively, try the traditional marking of hours, reading a short text or quotation from your chosen Book of Hours, on the hour, every hour, for a whole day. (We check our phones that often, so why not try this instead!) It might sound arduous, but is found to be relaxing. Build this into a regular practice, or use it as a meditative technique to slow you down when you are feeling particularly rushed or overwhelmed.

Marking time with a devotional reading only takes a moment as the clock strikes, but it creates an entirely different sense of time and increases our mindfulness. Our days will feel very different when we mark the golden hours.

Wishing you blessed reading,

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In Love with the Pre-Raphaelites

'Marigolds' or The Gardener's Daughter Rosetti

‘Marigolds’ or The Gardener’s Daughter by Dante Gabriel Rosetti was an inspiration for my Harlequin Historical romance ‘Enticing Benedict Cole’.

The beautiful, romantic Pre-Raphaelite paintings are some of the most familiar artworks in the world. During the 19th century, the art and love lives of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, a group of brilliant, free thinking young men, were considered scandalous. Their artistic milieu was in complete contrast with the strict conventions of the Victorian upper classes who lived in a controlled, stifling world, and they were often trapped and unhappy. It would have been considered unthinkable for an aristocratic young lady to want to pursue art seriously, and even more unthinkable to be an artist’s model. That’s the dream of Lady Cameo St Clair, the heroine of my Victorian romance Enticing Benedict Cole. Her story celebrates every woman who ever challenged convention for the sake of art, and for the sake of love. It is published by Harlequin Historical.

Another Lady who is capturing the imagination of readers is Lady Godiva! THANK YOU to all the readers who have read and reviewed Naked: A Novel of Lady Godiva.  Her story deserved to be written – and I’m so glad it is being read!

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The famous image used for the cover of NAKED: A Novel of Lady Godiva was painted by John Collier in the Pre-Raphaelite style (1898).

If you’d enjoy more Pre-Raphaelite Beauty visit my Pinterest page

Best wishes,

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Eliza Redgold Romances

UK Cover Enticing Benedict Cole

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Lady Liberty

Lady Liberty

‘Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!’

~ Emma Lazarus: ‘The New Colossus’ (1883)

Of late I’ve been thinking about Lady Liberty.

While I wrote Naked: A Novel of Lady Godiva I kept a postcard of the Statue of Liberty in the drawer of my bedside table. Telling Godiva’s story took many years and if I ever lost heart, Lady Liberty would always spur me on.

You can imagine my joy at NAKED being published by St Martin’s Press in New York and the official release day being 14 July 2015. 14 July is Bastille Day, commemorating the beginning of the French Revolution. It was, of course, the French people who gave the beautiful statue to the people of New York to celebrate American Independence.

As a symbol of sovereignty, Lady Liberty continues to inspire me. I’ve always been passionate about the American dream and I’m so grateful to be sharing it too.

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NAKED: A Novel of Lady Godiva can be found at all good bookstores and online. May Lady Godiva inspire you to a life of love and freedom.

Wishing you ‘Liberte, Egalite and Fraternite’,

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Time Lady: Inspiration from the Past

Looking for Lady Godiva

Which historical time period would you like to have lived in? The time periods we are drawn to can inspire and teach us a lot about what we seek in life. Two of my favourite historical eras are the Middle Ages and the nineteenth century. In spite of the challenges many women faced, these were also times of female power surges.  In the Middle Ages women played a leading role in the creation of courtly love and romance – an inheritance we can still cherish today. In the Victorian era women began the inspiring movement  that became known as the suffragettes. Whenever I feel challenged, I revisit those eras and try to channel some of the passion and gumption of the amazing women of the past.

In July 2015 NAKED: A Novel of Lady Godiva released. Godiva certainly was an amazing woman as well as a legend.  A few years back when I visited Coventry, the English home of Godiva, I took a photo of the plaque below. It still gives me shivers.  It reads: ‘A Benedictine Abbey was built on the same ground by Leofric, Earl of Mercia and his Countess Godiva. Leofric and Godiva are said to have been buried respectively in the two porches which stood near this spot.’ It was here I became convinced of their true love and wrote NAKED. You can read my travel piece Two Times a Lady (featuring the image pictured above by Igor Saktor) or find out more in my recent interview in The Coventry Observer.

Travel back in history and find your own ‘Time Lady’ – I promise you will be inspired!

Godiva and Leofric at rest in Coventry

Best wishes,

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Going Wild Flower with Orchidmania

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Eliza Redgold (Dr Elizabeth Reid Boyd) dancing in Singapore

Of late I’ve been writing about orchidmania. In August 2015 my novella Wild Flower published by Harlequin Escape released: ” Orchids drive us wild … For centuries fragrant orchids have made potent love potions. Exotic orchid expert Dianella Lee doesn’t expect to have anything in common with American tech whiz Wade Hamilton when he arrives in Australia. The scent of love arouses a powerful connection of opposites, but will distance pull them apart?”

pink fairy orchid

A pink fairy orchid I spotted on the Rainbow Coast in Western Australia

WildFlower-Harlequin1920_1920x3022 (1)From its exotic setting on the spectacular rainbow coast of Australia to sultry Singapore,  I hope you’ll be allured by Wild Flower.  Orchids bloom along the Rainbow Coast on the southern west tip of Western Australia. In Spring there is a carpet of beauty. Like the hero of Wild Flower I got orchidmania there too!  In Singapore, the National Orchid Garden at the Botanic Gardens in Singapore is an orchid lover’s paradise. The garden contains over 1000 species and 2000 hybrids and one of the largest tropical displays in the world.

Singapore is one of my favourite places. I used to lecture there regularly – and then go out dancing at night!

Wishing you dancing shoes!

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