Thursday, February 8, 2007

Who would *you* do?

If you scroll down, you’ll see today’s little contest -- ask me an interview question and I’ll answer it. (Although, you know, I reserve the right to save it for my next post if it’s gonna be a long or a good story!)

Meanwhile, let’s pick up the interview where we left off.

If I could “do” one person from the Regency period, who would it be?

An obvious answer is Byron. By all reports, the guy was quite the playboy. One would presume he also knew his way around. Wouldn’t it be marvelous to be in a villa near Geneva with the Shelleys and Byron? ... Exercising in the fresh air, pontificating literature and writing by roaring fires and being well-bedded at night.

The only woman to complain of his lovemaking was his wife -- for unspecified reasons that the gossips of the day just boiled over speculating about. And Caroline Lamb’s saying that he was mad, bad and dangerous to know is enticing -- but it’s an accurate description of the woman herself. The poor woman found herself locked away because Byron bored of her (although I seem to recall some discussion that she had a few curls loose).

Anyway. In my heart of hearts (or lust of lusts), the one Regency man I’d do in a heartbeat would be the Duke of Wellington.

Yeah, I know. Totally unavailable. (Assuming for the moment that he’s not approximately 150 years dead.) But isn’t it the unavailable ones that you want most of all?

He’s unavailable in that he ragged on his brothers for having affairs, although I think his disgust had more to do that they aired their dirty linen in public. (His older brother ended up marrying his mistress if I remember right. Feel free to correct me. My many Wellington biogs are all downstairs and I don’t want to disturb the doggies.)

If the gossips are right, he wasn’t immune to females either, despite his estranged marriage. At the Congress of Vienna, he was linked with the opera singer Grassini. In Brussels, Lady Paget remarked that he kept company with some disreputable women. And of course, in his later years, Mrs. Arthbutnot. (I’m sure I’ve spelled that wrong.)

But give him to me young and virile, the “alpha” leader on the eve of battle, when tomorrow’s breaths may be his last.... *sigh* Let’s face it. Wellington wouldn’t have put up with that sighing rot for a millisecond.

And that’s the other attractive thing about him. That crisp upper lip, the inscrutable veddy English air. These authentic hallmarks of unavailability are just soo enticing.

It makes me want to see his facade crumble and reveal the vulnerable human underneath. And have that unguarded expression be all mine, baby.

*fans self*

Gods, where is that tea...

Ahem. I think I have to stop writing about rakes in my books and write about a stiff hero instead.

(No, no, not that kind of stiff. The stiff upper lip kind. Get your mind out of the gutter!)


meardaba said...

What was it that Orwell said? "We are all in the gutter, just some of us are looking at the stars." Or something like that.

Colette Gale said...

Well, this probably doesn't count, but I've always had a crush on Andrew Jackson. All that flowing red hair, and the fact that he was a colonel in the War of 1812...and later, the president of the United States.

Technically, he was around during the Regency...and still red-headed at that time. So he's my vote.

Plus...his nickname was Old Hickory.

Maggie Robinson said...

I think the gutter comment is Oscar Wilde...I used to have it as my signature on a BB, but now I've got something from a recently eaten fortune cookie: Your dream must be bigger than your fear...which amounts to the same thing, I guess.

My question: Who is your ideal Regency heroine, fact or fictional?

meardaba said...

Oops. Sorry, I was being lazy was wasn't going to look it up. The real quote is this:

We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.
Oscar Wilde, Lady Windermere's Fan, 1892

Little Lamb Lost said...

My attempted post got eaten so am trying again.

Question: What is it about the Regency time period or people that you find so appealing?

I ask because I am drawn to the romances set in that time period but have never been able to define why.

Pam Rosenthal said...

Love the gutter comment. Thanks.

As for real Regency heroines, my hands-down favorite is Claire Clairmont, Mary Shelley's half-sister, who, when an 18-year-old nobody, wrote Lord Byron this amazingly cool and self-confident letter:

Have you then any objection to the following plan? On Thursday Evening we may go out of town together by some stage or mail about the distance of 10 or 12 miles. There we shall be free & unknown; we can return early the following morning. I have arranged everything here . . .

The meeting took place, though in London and not outside of it. Claire had Byron's baby and a tragic story ensued. But she picked herself up and lived an interesting, independent, difficult life all over Europe, never marrying, and never (unlike her genius half-sister) regretting or betraying the Enlightenment principles she'd been brought up with.

She's much maligned by Shelley and Byron scholars both. But brought beautifully to life in a sad, brilliant, wonderful novel called Love's Children, by Judith Chernaik, about the 4 women in Shelley's life, and the pain of trying to live outside the rules of one's time.

Pam Rosenthal said...

Oh, sorry. Not half-sister. Step-sister. No two children in the Godwin household, where Mary and Claire were brought up, had both the same mother and father.

Cherie said...

That's funny! I remember having a thing for Byron years ago myself. I always thought he was hot.

Cherie J

Anonymous said...

I dunno. If Byron would use a condom, I might do him. Considering that he was the Wilt Chamberlain of his day, I would be afraid that he would give me the clap and other nasties.

Second choice would be Mrs. Fitzherbert

Kate Pearce said...

Pitt the younger.
He'd be my man.
Such an intelligent, misunderstood plain fellow but so fascinating...
Just think of all the questions you could ask him-"Pitty, what's with htat window tax hmm?"

Second choice Castlereagh-I obviously have a thing for politicians

Pam Rosenthal said...

I have the sense that William Blake would be very original and inventive.

Pam (ever the pushover for artists)

Celia May Hart said...

Maggie Robinson asked: who is my favorite Regency heroine fact or fictional?

Argh. (This is how many of my answers begin. I can't think of her name (and I can't find the book), but the heroine in Mary Balogh's "The Secret Pearl" (I think it was called) is my favorite. The one who was a prostitute.

Little Lamb asked: What is it about the Regency time period or people that you find so appealing?

The way the men dressed. Or rather the way very dressed men look when they're slightly undressed -- hair mussed, cravat loose or missing... But overall, I think it's because it's the dawn of the Romantic era.

Pam: Clair C. was a survivor, alright!

Kate: Oh, Castlereagh! What a sweet, tragic figure... If I could go back in time, I'd save him.

Jane Lockwood said...

William Blake? Well, there is the story of a caller who found Mr. and Mrs. Blake stark naked in their garden "playing at Adam and Eve."

Byron is pretty much compulsory, although I should imagine rather high maintenance; Shelley's a pretty boy; personally I'd rather go for Napoleon, all that energy and scowl, and small enough to pick up and toss out of the bedchamber when he became a nuisance.

jane george said...

Ooooh, Blake.
Tiger! Tiger! And a metaphysical kind of fellow too. :-)

But I confess I have no idea what he looked like.

Pam Rosenthal said...

Blake -- sturdy, bullheaded. Here's a link to a pic. But I think that the attention he paid to bodies in his drawings, and his use of words like "lineaments" suggests... good things. There's a novel written in the persona of Blake's wife Kate that has some charming bits -- like having William falling headlong for and perhaps sleeping with the gorgeous, brilliant, passionate, and way-ahead-of-her-time Mary Wollstonecraft. It's written by a Blake scholar, but I didn't trust it... esp after Kate Blake joins some kind of women's group where they do a lot of kitschy things with herbs. I don't remember the title, I kind of liked it but stopped reading when it got to the herbs. Still, it's important to remember how everything was up for grabs in the early, heady days of the French Revolution.

jane george said...

Thanks Pam, for the Blake pic.

Those huge eyes appear soulful and passionate to moi.

I'm thoroughly enjoying The Slightest Provocation, so far. You had me at "peregrinations." Love it.

I was recently marked down in a contest entry for going above a tenth-grade vocabulary with the word, "delitescent." The noive!

I'm not a big-word snob, but when a word is perfect, it's perfect, and I reserve the right to write it, darnit.

Pam Rosenthal said...

Glad you're enjoying TSP, Jane. And while I may have had you at "peregrinations," you certainly raised me with "delitescent." I didn't know it, but now I do and thanks. What was your sentence containing the offending word?

My own worst experience with a contest involved receiving a packet of judges' comments that were as badly stapled as they were crudely reasoned and viciously worded. As I opened the envelope, the staple went into my thumb and I read the judges' comments with my blood started pouring over the bile on the page.

My stunned and unbelieving response, Plathlike, was "What a thrill..."

While as for Blake (to talk of happier things), today at, in a wonderful collection of Great Poems About Sex, Robert Pinsky quotes the lines I was thinking of:


What is it men in women do require?
The lineaments of Gratified Desire.
What is it women do in men require?
The lineaments of Gratified Desire.

But read the whole feature.