The Georgian Bookseller
By Lynne Connolly, author of Dauntless, Book 2 in The Shaws Series
In “Dauntless,” my heroine gets into trouble when her random scribblings are published. Especially when her villain turns out to be the man she falls in love with!
The first published novel is considered to be Richardson’s “Pamela,” the story of a maid who, by constantly rejecting her master’s advances, gets to reform the rake and marry him. Nothing much changes, does it? Variations on “Pamela” have been legion since that novel came out. In fact, almost immediately after, Fielding wrote a comedy version, calling his hero Joseph Andrews, Pamela’s sister.
And then came the torrent that is Tom Jones, a riotous romp through Georgian society that has remained in print to this day.
So Drusilla Shaw has her examples to follow. Once the novel form had been established, the novel with Rasselas, which also did fairly well. In the 1750s the novel was a new and daring format, not nearly as established as poetry and morality tales. Cartoonists were merciless, and if you think they are cruel now, you haven’t seen anything until you’ve seen a Gilray or a Rowlandson!
Georgian society had none of the hypocrisy and snobbishness of the repressive Victorians. They lived life wholesale. So it went for the novels, too. From the raucous inventiveness of Smollett to the sweet romances of Fanny Burney, they celebrated life and love. As did the booksellers.
In London most booksellers were clustered around St. Paul’s. Many were little better than shacks, and some used the stone walls of the cathedral as their back wall. They overflowed from Ludgate Hill at the bottom of Fleet Street, and anyone wanting a new publication would go there to find it or send a servant to collect it. From the days of Shakespeare on, the printers and booksellers gathered there.
Since the poets, novelists and playwrights clustered there, booksellers often served as publishers too, if they thought they could make some money by doing so. A book could become a sensation in a matter of days and disappear just as fast. We only remember the classics, the books that have survived down the centuries, but there were many more, books omen we don’t even remember or have copies of today.
The coffee houses nearby specialised in literary events, with authors and critics gathering there. Male, of course. Women held literary salons, mostly society ladies, where the literary giants of the day, even the poet Alexander Pope who was less than five feet tall was a giant. They dominated entertainment in the days before the internet and TV. Reading was something you could do at home. You didn’t have to get dressed up and go out as you would for a concert or play.
How could I resist writing a story that meshed the heroine with a handsome duke and the lively literary scene of the day? Well, the answer is that I couldn’t.
The Shaws are one of Britain’s most influential, dynamic families, but one Shaw prefers to keep a low profile. Unfortunately, the limelight can shine behind-the-scenes . . .
Lady Drusilla Shaw may be a bit introverted, yet she has the observant mind of a writer, capturing all of society’s quirks and scandals. But when the novel she’s been working on disappears from her room, that is just the beginning of her problems. Confident, magnetic Oliver, Duke of Mountsorrel, has taken an interest in Dru, and when he proposes, she is both thrilled and anxious. Her book depicts a ruinous family story that is uncannily similar to Oliver’s real-life, not to mention libelous. The manuscript could surface at any moment—and eventually it does, in published form, for all to read . . .
Oliver is bewildered by his new wife and her blasted book. Worst of all, how can he love a woman he no longer trusts? But when it becomes obvious that someone is taking their cues from the book in a series of attacks, he has no choice but to stick close to her. Their explosive connection in bed should take care of the heir-making, but for that to happen, Drusilla has to stay alive—and so does Oliver.
About The Author
Lynne Connolly was born in Leicester, England, and lived in her family’s cobbler’s shop with her parents and sister. She loves all periods of history, but her favorites are the Tudor and Georgian eras. She loves doing research and creating a credible story with people who lived in past ages. In addition to her Emperors of London series and The Shaws series, she writes several historical, contemporary and paranormal romance series. Visit her on the web at lynneconnolly.com, read her blog at lynneconnolly.blogspot.co.uk. Visit her on the social media platforms below.