My aristocratic characters often live in adapted versions of non-fictional houses. This is the case with Silk is for Seduction's Duke of Clevedon, upon whom I bestowed a slightly altered version of Northumberland House, a splendid Jacobean structure situated unfashionably (in 1835) on the Strand.
The house caught my fancy, partly because of its location but mostly because of the way it looked. As this Canaletto painting shows, it’s absolutely not Georgian. There was nothing neoclassical or Adams-ish about it.
In the time of my story, this area was undergoing transformation into Trafalgar Square. It still manages to look very romantic by moonlight, in this painting, shortly before its demolition. It was not taken down because it was falling apart, but to make way for a street, though—if the various protests to its destruction had it right—there was a perfectly good street nearby that only wanted widening.
Imagine my excitement, then, when my visit to the Victoria and Albert Museum brought me to one gorgeous remnant of its glory days. Along with this doorway of its Glass Drawing Room was a miniature of the room. Oddly enough, the reflected light (it’s not easy to photograph objects behind glass, in a dark room) does help us see what long-ago family and guests would have seen, as they gathered here in the evening before or after dinner.
There’s a big difference in how we use history. But we’re equally nuts about it. To us, the everyday details of life in the past are things to talk about, ponder, make fun of -- much in the way normal people talk about their favorite reality show.
We talk about who’s wearing what and who’s sleeping with whom. We try to sort out rumor or myth from fact. We thought there must be at least three other people out there who think history’s fascinating and fun, too. This blog is for them.