Gentlemen’s Clubs of the Regency

REGENCY GENTLEMEN’S CLUBS

by Alicia Rasley

In the Regency era, it was said whenever an interest or political persuasion was shared by two or more men, a new club was formed. There was a club for ancient supporters of the Jacobite cause (the Mourning Bush), for short men (the Little Club, with an entry door only about five feet high), for literary and scientific gentlemen (the Athenaeum, 1824), and even for gentleman coachmen (the famous Four-In-Hand Club, 1809, before that known as the Whip Club). Only the names survive of other clubs, but those names speak volumes—the Humbugs, the Je ne sai quoi Club, the No Pay No Liquor Club, the Great Bottle Club. These provided a retreat from the world of care, gentleman's clubs bookof worry, of women. Regency men, as gallant as they were as suitors, all too often preferred their club to their home. One Regency bride wrote in her diary, “We have now been married exactly a year, in which my husband has dined with me but once. Every other night he has dined at Mr. Brook’s Club.” (You can find more great anecdotes in the book Gentlemen’s Clubs of London.)

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St. James, the Place for Gentlemen

Here follows a map of Clublands including the famous, the infamous, the foolish. Founding dates, if known, are given.

(Let’s meet there! Grace Elliott takes a contemporary stroll through Clubland.)

The most famous club, White’s, offered a cornucopia of activities—a bit of politics (Tory), a lot of gambling, a lot of drinking (a White’s barman asked by a new member if the bar was open replied, “Bless my soul, sir, it’s been open 200 years!”). Founded in 1698 as a chocolate house, White’s remains the quintessential London Club three centuries later. Prince Charles had his bachelor party here (a dull affair with no stripper or exploding cakes, it broke up before midnight).

whites club

White’s Club

White’s became a private club about 1736, rapidly becoming known for its notorious betting book. Outra­geous, even fatal bets were recorded in these books. Horace Walpole in 1744 wrote about a 1500-pound wager that a human could live twelve hours under water. The bettor hired a desperate man to prove his point. The experiment failed, of course, but Walpole reported angrily that an innocent man had been prosecuted for the murder, while “the assassin” got away free. More common were bets on the life-expectancy of famous invalids, on the marriage prospects of young ladies, on the birth of twins to countesses, on the likelihood of members’ giving up gambling forever.

White’s moved up and down St. James’s Street several times before settling in 1753 at its current address, 37 St. James’s. The white stone building boasts impressive wrough-iron fencing and ornamentation. The bow window added in 1811 was the haunt of Beau Brummell and Lord Alvanley, who insulted fashionable London through the glass.

White’s dues were comparatively high—an entrance or initiation fee of twenty guineas and a yearly subscription of eleven guineas. But the possibility of a great payoff in the cardrooms was mesmerizing. Foreign Minister Canning’s father-in-law General Scott won 200,000 pounds at whist (because he alone, among the players, remained sober), and Beau Brummell in one night won 20,000 pounds. Some young men signed markers at White’s on the hope that their fathers would die soon, and were “rolled up” when the old cusses did not oblige.

The man who benefited the most from gambling fever was George Raggett who took ownership of WhiteJs in 1812 from John Martindale. Raggett made a fortune providing personal service to the high rollers: “It is my invariable custom to sweep the carpet after the gambling is over, and I generally find on the floor a few counters, which pays me for the trouble of sitting up. By this means I have made a decent fortune.” Raggett died wealthier than most of his members.

Brooks’s, another great London club, was founded in 1764 by a Mr. Brooks, a wine-merchant and money lender, who had taken over the older Almack’s Club, established at No. 5 Pall Mall by a Scotsman named William McCall, who called himself Almack. The famous Assembly Rooms were opened a year later. Brooks’s, as it became known in 1778 at 60 St. James’s Street, was always “more” than White’s: more political (Whiggish), more raffish, more dangerous. The political discussions got heated (especially before the Tory Pitt gave up his membership and stuck to White’s). Thirteen prime ministers have been members, along with many opposition leaders. But Brooks’s also drew from the artistic and literary fringe, including the actor Garrick, and the playwright Sheridan, the historians Gibbon and Macaulay, and the painter Reynolds. Of course, the most famous member was the Prince of Wales (later Prince Regent), who was personally responsible for getting scandalous Sheridan admitted after he had been black­balled three times.

Brooks Club: The Morning After

Brooks Club: The Morning After

The gambling stakes were stratospheric, with ten thousand pounds often risked on a single hand. One early member quit in disgust because he won “only 12,000 pounds” in two months! Charles James Fox, the great Whig politician, was bankrupted several times at the Brooks’s tables. His worshipful fellow members fre­quently bailed him out, some even selling shares in his future luck (usually bad). Often he was reduced to borrowing cabfare from the club’s waiters.

A third club, Boodle’s at 28 St. James’s, stands just opposite Brooks’s. Boodles’s has been Brooks’s opposite in many ways, though they shared a designer (ferny Holland) and a few members (Gibbon and Fox). Com­pared to its neighbor, Boodle’s is a quiet, even dull redoubt of the hunting set, complete with Stubbs’s paintings of horses and country scenes.

Boodle was headwaiter at the Brooks’s before he left in about 1770 to found his own club, which featured an elaborate fastidiousness – coins were courteously boiled before given in change to members, diners out of formal dinner dress were relegated to “the dirty room”. In two centuries, members proudly note, Boodle’s has been the site of not a single scandal — rather a pathetic boast, considering!

Watier's or The Dandy Club

Watier’s of The Dandy Club

A few clubs were devoted unashamedly to gambling. Watier’s (about 1805) at 81 Piccadilly was the inspiration of Prinny, who had heard White’s and Brooks’s members complain about their club’s inferior meals. He asked his own cook Watier to found a dinner club. Though Watier’s was always known for its exquisite dinners, gambling was its biggest draw. Legendary for its high-stakes Macao play, Watier’s survived only about a dozen years. Suppos­edly the club folded because so many members committed suicide after losing all! Brummell flirted with just such an end one night, called dramatically for a candle and a pistol. A fellow member produced two loaded pistols from his pocket, telling the horrified Brummell that he needn’t bother the waiter.

Crockford’s is sometimes considered a Regency club, but was actually founded in 1827. William Crockford, a professional gambler, had owned a less elite gambling hell in King Street from about 1816 to 1823, and another at the site of the defunct Watier’s. At 50 St. James’s, Crockford’s sat next to White’s and drew many members to its wealthy hazard banks. Even the Duke of Wellington, who hadn’t gambled since he was almost forced to sell his commission as a young officer, joined the club just to stay fashionable. It was surely the only club to earn a public rebuke from that great clubman George IV (the former Prince Regent), who piously denounced Crockford’s as “not only a disgrace to the country at large, but the age in which we live.”

Other clubs catered to narrower and less disgraceful interests. Military clubs flourished during and after the war. Prinny and the Duke of Wellington are said to have been the instigators of the Guards’ Club in 1810, located across from White’s. They worried that officers on leave from the Peninsular War might fall into bad company at the more expensive or disreputable clubs. The low-stakes whist and the inexpensive but hearty meals made the clubhouse a popular place –at least until 1827, when Crockford’s next door excavated an icehouse and under­mined the Guards’ foundations. Half the building fell into the hole. The United Service Club, the Duke of Wellington’s favorite, was founded in 1815 by army veterans. Initially restricted to high-ranking army officers, the club soon relented and also allowed in Navy officers.

Unusual experiences and talents were expected of members of other clubs. The Travellers Club at 106 Pall Mall, founded in 1819, provided a meeting place for those men who had travelled at least five hundred miles in a straight line from London. The French minister Talleyrand, who through revolution, empire and restora­tion always landed on his feet, spent his old age playing whist there. The custom of inviting foreign diplomats to Travellers’ made it the only racially tolerant club in Town.

The Dilettanti Society (1734) supported the fine arts by organizing tours of Italy and Greece, purchasing antiqui­ties, and publishing guidebooks and volumes on art works. Yet, this was no solemn bluestocking group. The mem­bers liked to entertain the Prince Regent when he was in an art-buying mood, and they went on tours to Venice during carnival time. Horace Walpole once said the society’s membership requirements were having been in Italy, and being a drunk. Still the society’s membership boasted illustrious artists like Reynolds, and a half-dozen dukes. The offbeat attitude of the Dilettanti might be seen in its favorite fundraising activity, assessing fines on members who achieved some honor or distinction. Even marriage might bring a five-guinea fine. The funds, however, went for charitable causes. The Society’s clubhouse did not match their benevolence, only a large room in the Thatched House Tavern, though one graced with priceless Reynolds paintings.

The Alfred Club in Albermarle Street (1808) catered to men of letters or religion. Amazingly, Lord Byron was a member, but found the members vague and dotty, and the religious atmosphere oppressive. The irreverent Lord Alvanley said he dropped out of the Alfred when the seventeenth bishop joined, saying the club then put him in mind of his catechism.

Far removed in spirit from the tedious Alfred is the most famous sporting club, the Four-In-Hand Club. These coaching-mad Corinthians had no clubhouse, only meeting four times a year at George Street in Hanover Square to drive twenty miles in their drags or barouches to Salt Hill. There they dined at the Windmill and then headed back to town. Their distinctive costume included white drab driving coats with at least fifteen capes, a blue coat, yellow-and-blue striped waistcoat, white cravat with black spots, long white corduroy breeches, and a cone-like hat The clubmen worshipped professional coachmen and often bribed them to get a chance at driving a real stagecoach. Some even had a front tooth removed so they could spit just like their idols.

The following books provided my information, and offer a more in-depth look at these and other clubs, all of which paint a vivid picture of the manner in which Regency heroes spent their days and often their nights. Through the magic of the Internet, the first three are at your fingertips! So much for elitism!
Timbs’s CLUB LIFE IN LONDON is the classic of the genre, published in the 1860s but is available at the Internet Archive.

Gronow’s ANECDOTES AND REMINISCENCES; Captain Gronow knew every club and everyone, and willingly spills all their secrets.

Ashton’s THE HISTORY OF GAMBLING IN ENGLAND is filled with great anecdotes about the gambling clubs.

Lejeune and Lewis’s THE GENTLEMEN’S CLUBS OF LONDON is the newest book, chock full of gorgeous pictures, but unfortunately only discusses the clubs still extant.

In my The Reluctant Lady, the sinfully handsome Tressilian is a White’s member.

Espionage and Military Intel in the Napoleonic Era– an Overview

Espionage and Military Intel in the Napoleonic Era– an Overview
By Alicia Rasley

Question: Is there a good source and British spying activity during the Napoleonic Wars both in England and on the continent? Which branch of the war office was in charge of covert operations and responsible for passing instructions to secret agents? Julie

Answer: I am currently researching a Napoleonic-era espionage series and have been disappointed with the paucity of source material. It’s not so surprising, after all, good spies bury their successes as well as their mistakes. Even after centuries, the secret service’s secrets are mostly still secret. But I’ve managed to put together profile of the British spying program from meager bits in espionage and military histories.

First, you should understand that “intelligence gathering” is an honorable military activity, while “espionage” is a dishonorable civilian activity (at least according to military officers). The distinction is not in the actual operation, please note: Both use covert eavesdropping, interception of messages, and the like. But a spy could be summarily hanged while an intelligence officer could expect to be treated like any other prisoner of war – as long as he was wearing his uniform while he conducted his secret scouting. An officer out of uniform was assumed to be a spy, as was Benedict Arnold’s contact British Major John Andre, who was hanged a few hours after his capture. This distinction is explored in Jock Haswell’s The First Respectable Spy, a biography of Colquoun Grant, Wellington’s intelligence chief.

Theoretically, military intelligence was directed by the Depot of Military Knowledge established by the Duke of York in 1803. This depot was in the attic of Horse Guards building. There were four departments, one of which was supposed to run agents on the continent. But when the war resumed, many of the officers went on active duty, and so the Horse Guards depot had little impact on the progress of the distant war. Most military intelligence was directed from field headquarters, that is, right there on the Peninsula.

There, the quartermaster general, George Murray for most of the war, was in charge of the “reconnaissance officers.” These were dashing young men like Colquoun Grant the first respectablewho rode around the countryside scouting the enemy encampments and buying stolen French dispatches from peasants. These officers were multilingual, well-supplied with bribery funds, and artistic enough to draw precise maps. In fact, Wellington’s superior knowledge of Peninsular terrain was a major factor in his success. The “recon officers” also made regular contact with guerrillas and the religious irregulars, a network of priests and seminarians, most of them Irish, who could move freely between France and Spain. Wellington’s military intelligence was mostly informal and locally-based, but much better than the French, who could expect no help from the Spanish.

The Admiralty also had a small intelligence-gathering unit run by the First Commissioner of the Admiralty. This unit inserted a few spies into France through secret landings on the coast, but the operations mostly seem to have involved mapmaking and estimating enemy force. One agent did kidnap the husband of Bonaparte’s mistress in 1799 and incite him to assassinate the general, but nothing came of it.

Actual espionage was the province of the foreign office, the home of James Bond’s future employer, His Majesty’s Secret Service. This again was a pretty minimal affair compared to the KGB and CIA, but here is where the spies really hung out. I found very little on the operations of the Secret Service agents during the war, but for the most part, their activities do not seem to be very sophisticated. They reported to the Secret Service Chief, usually an undersecretary, and were sent out to foment rebellion against Napoleon and bribe provincial officials. The greatest of them all was the elusive Colin Mackenzie, who within minutes of it signing got a copy of the secret Treaty of Tilsit allying Russia and France. In 1812, Mackenzie surveyed the contents of the Emperor’s library, found it heavy on Russian geography books, and predicted the invasion of Russia. He had several contacts in Paris among the Scots families who had fled Britain after the failed Stuart Rebellion but hated Napoleon more.
recon officer
Counterespionage was handled by the Home Office primarily. It appears they had ties with the constabulary and the local militia. From what I can tell, however, they spent more time battling labor protesters than French spies. All in all there seems to have been very little spying done inside Britain, except for émigrés in the exiled King French King’s Court who sold information to all sides.

As for funding, the Admiralty, the Foreign Office, and the Home Office shared in the secret fund voted by Parliament each year for illicit activities. Most of it was used for bribes in British elections, but a bit slipped through to fund spies. The secretaries did have to account for the dispersed funds, but I take it honesty was not required! In Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey-Maturin series, Dr. Maturin is, in addition to the ship’s doctor, an occasional intelligence agent for the Admiralty and/or Foreign Office. He gets money to make his bribes and reward his sources from the “Privy Council,” which is the disburser of the secret accounts.
map of peninsula
The Royal Army, always a bastard service, received none of these funds, but its intelligence wing was the most effective is all of all, as far as we know. (After all, they won the war against great odds.)

The French Secret Service, by the way, ranged from immensely successful — getting one agent appointed intelligence chief in enemy Austria! – – worse than useless. Joseph Fouche, the minister of police and spymaster, spent most of his efforts spying on spies in the other French ministries. He could, however, supposedly claim the highest spy in the land – the empress Josephine.

Here are a few more sources that might help research British espionage:
Spies and Spymasters, C. Jock Haswell.
History of the British Secret Service, Richard Deacon.
The Master Book of Spies, Donald McCormick.
33 Centuries of Espionage, Richard Rowan.
Alicia’s latest book is Tryst at the Brighton Inn, a Regency CSI mystery.

 

Alicia
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Excerpt! From Tryst at the Brighton Inn

An excerpt from Tryst at the Brighton Inn, by Alicia Rasley
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Matt was, no doubt, angry at her. Angry at her sullen silence, broken only to speak another lie. Angry at her for making him think, or hope at least, that last night was more than just deception. Too angry to want her, to know her, to believe her. But he found himself gazing back at her, across the scarred tables and beyond the grumbling guests. They might as well have been the only ones in the room, the two of them.

Then he had to break that linked gaze, for the JP, coffee mug in hand, came right up to Matt. They knew each other, of course, as they were both landowners in the area. “Sir Matthew,” he said warmly. Then he sobered. “Lamentable business, this. Never had no murders here before. Had to look up the old county record for the way to go on. Not much there to help.” He shrugged. “JPs ain’t usual for felonies, not that we have many here.”

That sounded—promising. In the wrong way, Matt reminded himself. But if no one here had any notion how to go on, well. “The sheriff?”

“Down at the king’s fête, seeing to the riffraff.” He muttered, almost to himself, “Naught help his side, anyroad. Jumped-up fool, he is.”

“Then you’ll be calling in the coroner, I assume?”

The JP shrugged. “He’ll have to be impanelin’ an inquest, it’s true. But he’s off on some fishing holiday out Adur way. ’Sides, the coroner can’t tell us anything we can’t see ourselves. Man’s been axed. No secret what kilt him.”

Matt said carefully, “Any notion who is responsible?”

“Nought. The dead man was not from here. Clear enough to look at him.” The JP took a quick gulp from his mug and added, “So the killer mebbe wasn’t from here either.”

“I see what you mean,” Matt said. Best to encourage this line of thought, though it seemed an incautious leap of logic. “Not one of us.”

pavilion grand saloon

The Grand Saloon at the Brighton Royal Pavilion

“Inn is full of outsiders. Tufts from town.”

The casual use of that insult for quality was something of a relief. Netley didn’t relegate Matt to that group, anymore than he considered himself a “tuft” though he had a brace of servants and money in the funds. That mild class antagonism could be helpful too. For what, Matt didn’t want to say yet. “You’ll be having a riot on your hands, with this group. They are not accustomed to being denied their treats,” Matt said.

“Tuppen there tells me there’s a half dozen or more, more with their servants, taking refuge from the storm. Last night. Some latecomers too, slept in their carriages in the road.”

“Latecomers.” That was another notion to encourage. Matt considered for a moment how best to do this, then said carefully, “With the king’s fête down there in Brighton, hordes of beaus like that one over there, no doubt, have been coming this way from London.”

The JP guffawed. “Wasn’t invited. You neither, I warrant.”

Actually, Matt had received an invitation, though he never considered attending. He had met the king only once, when he was knighted half a decade ago; clearly the palace had been scraping the dregs of the landed gentry to get a big crowd for this fête. And how like their insouciant king, to hold a party in a month his government was collapsing and new elections were predicted, and to invite the very aristocracy that was muttering against him.
coaching inngeorge-inn-york-joseph-appleyard
Natasha, of course, would have been invited. She might shun society, but it never shunned her—except, it seemed, for that countess Lady Balfour. “You don’t think,” he asked, “that the dead man was among the invited.”

The JP shook his head. “Not likely. But by his looks, I figured he was from other parts.” He gestured at the landlord, who was drawing pints and making a bit of extra coin on the occasion. “Had an accent, Tuppen says. Makes sense the killer does too.”

That was a speculation Matt didn’t mean to encourage. Here they were talking of accents. That was getting into dangerous territory, though Matt wasn’t sure why danger was the word that came to his mind. Danger to Natasha, was that to be avoided? If she did what he feared she’d done? And why? Why protect Natasha, when she seduced him then lied to him? Well, he supposed, because she did indeed seduce him first, and that meant something.

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Tryst at the Brighton Inn, a Kindle Scout book. Available now!

It’s a decade after Napoleon’s defeat, but the war still haunts even the victors. Linked by family and by grief, divided by social class, Russian émigré Natasha and ship’s doctor Matthew have lived for years in mutual distrust. But when she’s suspected of killing a man from her past, she reaches out to Sir Matthew for help. It takes both his medical training and her intuition to solve the mystery of the murder at the Brighton Inn—and the secret of her own troubled past.

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It’s a decade after Napoleon’s defeat, but the war still haunts even the victors. Linked by family and by grief, divided by social class, Russian émigré Natasha and ship’s doctor Matthew have lived for years in mutual distrust. But when she’s suspected of killing a man from her past, she reaches out to Sir Matthew for help. It takes both his medical training and her intuition to solve the mystery of the murder at the Brighton Inn—and the secret of her own troubled past.

  It is 1811, and the Prince has just become Regent, and Wellington has just retaken Portugal, and Napoleon has just started his secret plans to invade Russia. And Tatiana, the long-forgotten princess in the Winter Palace, becomes the unwilling pawn to further all their aims. Read a free preview!

(This is the “prequel” to Poetic Justice.)

 A renegade rare-books dealer and a heiress-in-waiting must embark on a sham betrothal for the loftiest of literary aims– to prove that Shakespeare really was… Shakespeare.
John Dryden is on the trail of the greatest acquisition of his checkered career– a play manuscript written in Shakespeare’s own hand. Between him and his prize is an obsessed librarian who wants to destroy it… and the heiress who can lead him to it, but only if he’s willing to risk his life, his freedom, and his loner’s heart.  

Get a free preview!

(This is the sequel to Royal Renegade.)

  Is there such a thing as Platonic friendship? The rakish Earl of Tressilian and virtuous Lady Killeaven are determined to prove it’s true—a man and a woman can truly be just friends. In decadent Regency London, of course, their friendship proves more scandalous than any flaming affair.
And Tressilian, after years of “just friends,” is starting to wonder if that is, indeed, all he wants to be. So this Royal Navy hero embarks on a campaign as dangerous and complex as any battle at sea, to win the heart and hand of the one woman who knows him too well to be seduced.

   The warrior returns… but he never really comes home. Allegra has longed for the return of her soldier husband. But when the war ends, he is more distant than ever. After months of trying to reach him, she leaves to chaperone her husband-hunting younger sister at a duchess’s house party. Only then does Nicholas know that to win her, he must leave the war behind and truly come home to her for good.

   Competent, compassionate, cautious Charity, The mainstay of her Kentish village. Charity would make the perfect wife. Everyone says so, including the men who propose marriage to her. But Charity wants to be more than the perfect wife. She wants to be beloved.

And when she meets the passionate half-Italian artist Tristan Hale, she thinks she’s found the man who can transform her life into one of brilliance and excitement. But then she finds out that all he wants is what every man wants, that competent Charity, the perfect wife.

Against the backdrop of a village fete, Tristan must prove to her that he desires her as much as he esteems her, and to win her, he first has to defeat an evil playwright, paint a voracious whale, and seduce her by the midsummer moon.

 A Valentine novella.  Widow Madeleine Gray keeps up the family legacy of poetry by penning love poems for the love-starved sailors in 1811 Portsmouth. But she is no romantic herself– she will never love again.

Then Payton Wilder requests a customized Valentine poem for the girl of his dreams… and Maddy realizes that she has dreams of her own for the dashing captain!

 

My friend Lynn Kerstan and I wrote Gwen’s Ghost together, and won a joint RITA award for Best Regency! 

Eternity is a bloody bore for Valerian Caine. A swashbuckling, amoral 18th Century rake, he was cut down in a duel at age 27 by a ricocheting bullet fired by a cuckolded husband. Now stewing resentfully in a bureaucratic afterlife, he leaps at the chance to regain his human form and return to his previous existence. But there’s a catch. He’ll be transported to the England of a hundred years later, where he’ll have one month to end the family feud launched by that fatal duel and ensure the happiness of the Caine and Sevaric descendants. If he succeeds, he’ll be transported back to his former life and the bullet will miss him. But standing between him and his goal is the obstinately unhappy and acerbic Gwen Sevaric–and his surprising desire to be forever the one who makes her smile.

  This is an anthology with my story “Home for Christmas,”  a Christmas Regency with a bit of intrigue. When Verity receives an unexpected invitation from her estranged father to spend the holidays at his Cornwall estate, she accepts with delight. But, ever mindful of her father’s attention to propriety, she must scramble to find a husband and “father” for her fatherless child. Could a handsome and enigmatic stranger solve all her problems?

This is a mystery novel, in the well-known “divorce-revenge” sub-genre.

Accident? Suicide? Or Murder?
Searching for the answer may just get her killed.
The last thing Meg O’Brian wants is further contact with her ex-husband, Don, and his young trophy wife. She’s ready to move on, to start a new life, maybe with a new man who knows nothing about her past failure at love. But now Don is dead, possibly murdered, putting their 15-year-old son’s financial legacy and emotional security at risk for the second time in the year since the divorce.

Meg must investigate Don’s tangled business affairs and turn up the heat on his tawdry widow. Unfortunately, the only one who can help her discover the truth is the man who destroyed all her illusions two years ago-her cynical, burnt-out-on-matrimony marriage counselor, Mike Warren, the guy who knows her history all too well and won’t hesitate to use it against her.

A #1 Kindle bestseller!  The tragic mystery at the heart of their family has finally surfaced . . . When Ellen Wakefield O’Connor is confronted by a young man armed with a birth certificate that mistakenly names her as his mother, she quickly sorts out the truth: his birth mother listed Ellen on the certificate to cover up her own identity, but also because Ellen is, in a way, related to the child. The birth father is Ellen’s troubled husband, Tom. The secrets of the past soon engulf Ellen, Tom, and everyone they love.

Regency Galleria

I’m just going to gather here images of interest.

 

British places:

 

Wales

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About Alicia Rasley

First and foremost, I am a writer.  But, I also love to teach and write about the craft of fiction writing. I taught for eight years at two Indiana colleges and now teach classes on the Web and live workshops around the country.  While teaching at these two colleges, the experience taught me that I prefer leading workshops for fiction writers.

I have a Master’s Degree in English from Butler University (Thesis was The Family Vault: Women Buried Alive in Edgar Allan Poe’s Short Stories), where I studied stories from the inside out.  You’ll find my writing articles all over the Web. (Yeah, I know, I should be more careful about their distribution, but heck, it’s a compliment, right?) I have a lot of articles collected here.

As I said, I’m a writer, and you’d be surprised (and bored) at some of what I’ve written and edited– real estate newsletters, software manuals (pays well!), corporate histories, textbooks.  But mostly I’m a fiction writer. I especially like to set books in the elegant, decadent Regency period in Britain (1811-1822).

My Regency romances were published by Dell, Signet, and Kensington, and (I do hate to brag, but it’s part of the biz) have been nominated for the Romance Writers of America Rita Award (twice, won once), the Romantic Times Best Regency Novel Award (twice), the Colorado Romance Writers Award of Excellence (won that one too), and the Regency Plume Award of Excellence.

I’ve also written a couple of “mainstream women’s fiction” novels, which I think means a book with a strong female protagonist and not too much gore. And of course, I’ve written many books and booklets on the craft of writing fiction.  All my books are available here.

Also, I have been married since just after high school (kids– don’t try this at home) to college sweetheart Jeff, now a retired attorney who also writes (his books are here) when he’s not doing philanthropic work in Nepal. We have two grown sons, one a military officer and the other a technical supervisor for TV production. They both write too– this is obviously an inherited disorder. 😉

As a reader, I like popular fiction especially, but in contradictory types:

  1. Great big sprawling epic books, such as those written by Dorothy Dunnett, Patrick O’Brian, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, and Laura Kinsale.
  2. “Sonnets”– precise and concise stories with emotional undercurrents, especially romance and mystery, like those of Joan Wolf, Courtney Milan, Agatha Christie, and Ellis Peters.

So welcome to my website, and join me in discussing popular fiction, especially stories set in Britain and in the time of the Regency!

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