Today, I am very pleased to welcome award-winning author Stephanie Barron with a fabulous post on Jane Austen and Carlton House. To celebrate the release of her new novel, Jane and the Waterloo Map, Stephanie is also hosting a Grand Giveaway. Details after the post!
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To John Murray
23 Hans Place, Friday Nov: 3rd 1815
My Brother’s severe Illness has prevented his replying to Yours of Oct: 15, on the subject of the MS of Emma now in your hands—and as he is, though recovering, still in a state which we are fearful of harassing by Business, & I am at the same time desirous of coming to some decision on the affair in question, I must request the favour of you to call on me here, on any day after the present that may suit you best, at any hour in the Evening, or any in the Morning except from Eleven to One. –A short conversation may perhaps do more than much Writing.
My Brother begs his Compts & best Thanks for your polite attention in supplying him with a Copy of Waterloo.
I am Sir
Your Ob. Hum: Servt
With those few brisk lines, Jane Austen sat herself down at the bargaining table with her new publisher, John Murray. Most famous as the man who brought Lord Byron and Walter Scott to the British public—the “Waterloo” Jane mentions was an epic poem Scott hastily composed in the weeks after the recent battle–Murray was willing to take a chance on Miss Austen’s fourth novel. Her previous book, Mansfield Park, had been less well-received than either Sense and Sensibility or Pride and Prejudice, and Thomas Egerton, who had published all three of them, refused to bring out a second edition of Mansfield Park. He declined Emma altogether. In such circumstances, Murray—who’d admired Lizzy Bennet—thought he could scent a sweet deal. He offered Jane £450 for Emma’s copyright, considerably more than the sum she’d received for P&P. There was a hitch, however: Murray wanted the copyrights to Austen’s previous three novels thrown in as well.
With Henry laid low, Jane took matters into her own hands: she refused Murray’s offer and suggested instead that he publish Emma upon commission. She would cover Murray’s printing costs, while he earned ten percent of the book’s profits. He called upon her that week in Hans Place and agreed to her terms.
It’s no accident that Jane Austen felt compelled to mask her forward behaviour with the fig leaf of Henry’s illness. Singular enough as a lady novelist in 1815, she had committed the outrage of becoming a business woman as well, exhibiting a decisiveness and independence worthy of Lady Catherine de Bourgh. Even the anxious duty of nursing her brother through a near-fatal fever could not entirely divert her from her work. It was to introduce Emma Woodhouse to the Polite World that she had come to London in the first place.
Jane and the Waterloo Map, the thirteenth installment in my series of mystery novels featuring Jane Austen as detective, opens ten days after Jane wrote to Murray, when the combination of her sudden fame and Henry’s illness precipitated her into the Prince Regent’s circle at Carlton House. Henry’s local Knightsbridge surgeon, Charles Haden, proved inadequate to curing his “low fever,” probably because Haden’s preferred solution was to bleed his patients. When brother Edward Austen Knight worriedly arrived from Kent to hold vigil at Henry’s bedside, he summoned Matthew Baillie, the Court Physician, to Hans Place. Baillie, who was a distinguished consulting physician at St. George’s Hospital, managed to mend Henry’s health over the course of a few visits—and became a little acquainted with Jane. Possibly he boasted of meeting the celebrated author of Pride and Prejudice at Carlton House. Within days, Jane was summoned to the royal palace by James Stanier Clarke, the Prince Regent’s chaplain, who “suggested” she might dedicate Emma to His Royal Highness. Turns out, HRH was a fan. A request, in this case, was an order.
It is impossible for any current writer to read Jane’s polite but distant letters to Clarke, or the stiff correctness of her subsequent dedication to the Regent, without an inner roar of laughter. She cordially despised the Prince and there can be no one she would rather have dedicated Emma to less. Her niece, Fanny Austen Knight, twitted her with attempting to drum up sales with such Royal Notice. But to Carlton House on the thirteenth of November, 1815, Jane nonetheless went.
The remarkable place is long since gone. It was demolished in 1826 for a double row of terraced houses that endure to this day. But fleeting images of its rooms remain, peopled with ghostly Regency figures, in the colored prints of William Henry Pyne’s History of the Royal Residences, 1818-1819. The sweeping main staircase, the novelty of a completely finished lower level with opulent receiving rooms and a library, the principal salons placed on the ground floor rather than the upper storey, and the classical simplicity of the entrance hall—so unlike the Prince Regent’s tastes in Brighton—set the bar for private London townhouses in a way that would not truly be equaled until Gilded Age New York some seventy years later.
What did Jane think of Carlton House? Unfortunately, no letter survives that describes her visit, only a note of thanks to Clarke for the “flattering attentions I rec’d from you at Carlton House, Monday last.” It is inconceivable that she did not send some impression of the place to her family at Chawton Cottage, to whom she wrote almost every day. Perhaps this was one of the pieces of correspondence that Cassandra Austen destroyed after Jane’s death—possibly because Jane was less flattering to the Regent than posterity might wish. Her next surviving letter to Cassandra is dated eleven days after the visit to Carlton House and refers mainly to a paper shortage in London that delayed Murray’s press.
It is gaps like these in Austen’s documented life, however, that animate my writing. For nearly two decades I’ve borrowed Jane for an ongoing set of adventures that plunge her into murder and mayhem—combining the known elements of her days, drawn from her letters, with the imagined ones that might have filled various holes in the historical record. In Jane and the Waterloo Map, for example, Jane is shown all over Carlton House, stumbling upon the Duke of Wellington in the Blue Velvet Room with Fanny Wedderburn Webster, his latest Flirt. She discovers, too, the stricken body of a Hero of Waterloo in the Regent’s celebrated Library. (Where there is a library, every detective novelist knows, there must be a body.) Jane’s talents as a meddlesome female soon embroil her in military intrigues, obscure poisons, treasure maps and a whiff of romance, as John Murray painstakingly prints the first sheets of Emma.
It’s a fitting escapade for the dashing woman James Stanier Clarke may or may not have captured in this charming drawing—possibly Jane Austen as she looked when they met in November, 1815 (see: “James Stanier Clarke’s Portrait of Jane Austen,” by Joan Klingel Ray and Richard James Wheeler, in Persuasions, No. 27, Jane Austen Society of North America, pp. 112-118.) No one will ever prove this is a sketch of Jane, of course, but I like to think it is—her remarkable hat and pelisse, the fur muff she probably borrowed from her late sister-in-law Eliza’s closet, all tributes to the fact that her stories had brought her into Fashion, as she descended upon the Prince Regent’s Household. I like to think that Clarke colored her image so brightly because he, too, longed to fill in the gaps in what he knew of her.
Two hundred years later, she remains to my mind a creature only half-understood and hurriedly drawn—a life best seized through the imagination.
JANE AND THE WATERLOO MAP
Jane Austen turns sleuth in this delightful Regency-era mystery
November, 1815. The Battle of Waterloo has come and gone, leaving the British economy in shreds; Henry Austen, high-flying banker, is about to declare bankruptcy—dragging several of his brothers down with him. The crisis destroys Henry’s health, and Jane flies to his London bedside, believing him to be dying. While she’s there, the chaplain to His Royal Highness the Prince Regent invites Jane to tour Carlton House, the Prince’s fabulous London home. The chaplain is a fan of Jane’s books, and during the tour he suggests she dedicate her next novel—Emma—to HRH, whom she despises.
However, before she can speak to HRH, Jane stumbles upon a body—sprawled on the carpet in the Regent’s library. The dying man, Colonel MacFarland, was a cavalry hero and a friend of Wellington’s. He utters a single failing phrase: “Waterloo map” . . . and Jane is on the hunt for a treasure of incalculable value and a killer of considerable cunning.
“A well-crafted narrative with multiple subplots drives Barron’s splendid 13th Jane Austen mystery. Series fans will be happy to see more of Jane’s extended family and friends, and Austenites will enjoy the imaginative power with which Barron spins another riveting mystery around a writer generally assumed to have led a quiet and uneventful life.” — Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
“Writing in the form of Jane’s diaries, Barron has spun a credible tale from a true encounter, enhanced with meticulous research and use of period vocabulary.”
“Barron, who’s picked up the pace since Jane and the Twelve Days of Christmas, portrays an even more seasoned and unflinching heroine in the face of nasty death and her own peril.” — Kirkus Reviews
“Barron deftly imitates Austen’s voice, wit, and occasional melancholy while spinning a well-researched plot that will please historical mystery readers and Janeites everywhere. Jane Austen died two years after the events of Waterloo; one hopes that Barron conjures a few more adventures for her beloved protagonist before historical fact suspends her fiction.” — Library Journal
Stephanie Barron was born in Binghamton, New York, the last of six girls. She attended Princeton and Stanford Universities, where she studied history, before going on to work as an intelligence analyst at the CIA. She wrote her first book in 1992 and left the Agency a year later. Since then, she has written fifteen books. She lives and works in Denver, Colorado. Learn more about Stephanie and her books at her website, visit her on Facebook and Goodreads.
GRAND GIVEAWAY DETAILS:
Win One of Three Fabulous Prizes
In celebration of the release of Jane and the Waterloo Map, Stephanie is offering a chance to win one of three prize packages filled with an amazing selection of Jane Austen-inspired gifts and books!
To enter the giveaway contest, simply leave a comment on any or all of the blog stops on Jane and the Waterloo Map Blog Tour starting February 02, 2016 through 11:59 pm PT, February 29, 2016. Winners will be drawn at random from all of the comments and announced on Stephanie’s website on March 3, 2016. Winners have until March 10, 2016 to claim their prize. Shipment is to US addresses. Good luck to all!
JANE AND THE WATERLOO MAP BLOG TOUR SCHEDULE:
February 02 My Jane Austen Book Club (Guest Blog)
February 03 Laura’s Reviews (Excerpt)
February 04 A Bookish Way of Life (Review)
February 05 The Calico Critic (Review)
February 06 So Little Time…So Much to Read (Excerpt)
February 07 Reflections of a Book Addict (Spotlight)
February 08 Mimi Matthews Blog (Guest Blog)
February 09 Jane Austen’s World (Interview)
February 10 Just Jane 1813 (Review)
February 11 Confessions of a Book Addict (Excerpt)
February 12 History of the 18th and 19th Centuries (Guest Blog)
February 13 My Jane Austen Book Club (Interview)
February 14 Living Read Girl (Review)
February 14 Austenprose (Review)
February 15 Mystery Fanfare (Guest Blog)
February 16 Laura’s Reviews (Review)
February 17 Jane Austen in Vermont (Excerpt)
February 18 From Pemberley to Milton (Interview)
February 19 More Agreeably Engaged (Review)
February 20 Babblings of a Bookworm (Review)
February 21 A Covent Garden Gilflurt’s Guide to Life (Guest Blog)
February 22 Diary of an Eccentric (Review)