Tag Archives: Lady History Historical Fiction

Lady Day

340px-Dante_Gabriel_Rossetti_-_Ecce_Ancilla_Domini!_-_Google_Art_Project

The Annunciation Dante_Gabriel_Rossetti

Lady Day is March 25th. From 1155 to 1752, Lady Day, not January 1, was the start of the year. In England today the tax year still runs according to this old timetable. So if your January New Year’s Resolutions have gone awry, it’s a great time to make some more!

This ancient festival celebrates the feast of the Annunciation, when the angel Gabriel announced the forthcoming birth of Jesus to Mary, known in the Catholic faith as ‘Our Lady’.  Lady Day is also a quarter day in the wheel of the year. It falls near the Spring Equinox and is connected to pagan celebrations of the earth’s rebirth. The ancient Celts honoured Eostre, the Goddess of spring around this time. She was traditionally accompanied by a hare. We still know her name in the feast name ‘Easter’ – while the hare has become the Easter bunny.

The word ‘lady’ itself is rich in heritage. In an academic paper I wrote for Women and Language journal I analysed its history and meaning. The word lady invokes the imagination.  While woman captures our biology, our physicality, or femaleness, lady evokes the more elusive quality – muse, magic, spirit – of the feminine. I wrote it a few years ago, but I still get contacted about it – by chance (in 2017) I did this morning!

nakedA famous Lady of Legend, Godiva, has long intrigued me and my version of her tale, with a twist, can be found in NAKED: A Novel of Lady Godiva (St Martin’s Press). In some ancient stories Godiva is accompanied by a hare – connecting her to the Celtic goddess of spring, Eostre. You can find the book on Amazon. There are more Ladies of Legend in store, so stay tuned.

This year, 2016, Lady Day falls on Good Friday. I don’t know how often that happens, but it must be rare. Perhaps the feminine and the masculine are entering a new phase of balance. In that spirit, the image I’ve used here of The Annunciation is by Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1849) and the model is his sister, the poet Christina Rossetti.

(Now in 2017 it is interesting to reflect on the shifts that have taken place, isn’t it?)

Best wishes for the year,

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Lady pic This photo was taken a while back when I was researching the word lady and felt rather determined about it.

 

 

 

 

Out in MARCH 2017

Published by Skyhorse Press, New York. Available at Amazon and all good book stores.

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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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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Wild Horses

wooden horsesOf late I’ve been writing about wild rides. 2014 was the Chinese Year of the Horse and it certainly was for me! Perhaps it was auspicious I happened to be in Singapore to celebrate Chinese New Year. I saw these amazing wooden horses at Garden by the Bay in Singapore.

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In 2014 I learned to horse-ride. I’d love to report that I became a brilliant horsewoman overnight, like my heroine Godiva, but I got worse instead of better. I learned at an extraordinary therapeutic riding center that has lessons for young and old, able-bodied and disabled riders alike. Some of the people I met were absolutely inspiring. I learned some life lessons – not just riding lessons.

In the nakedYear of the Horse NAKED: A Novel of Lady Godiva (she of the famous naked ride) was accepted by St Martin’s Press, New York and will be released this July. The year of the horse was magic for me – I hope it was for you too!

Here’s Wild Horses a song I listened to while writing Godiva’s story.

I wonder what 2015, the Chinese Year of the (Green Wood) Sheep will bring? Wishing you every joy and the best of luck,

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 desk charmsMy desk charms –  Good luck to you!