Have you ever wondered where our historical authors get their inspiration from? From bookshops to churches and royal residences find out what inspires our historical authors…
In my Secret Lives of the Ton trilogy, all my stories are set in London and I’ve tried to use locations that readers can still visit today.
In An Unsuitable Duchess, my American heroine meets up unexpectedly with my English Duke at Hatchards Bookshop on Piccadilly.
Hatchards is the oldest bookstore in London and I got chills walking into it for the first time after I wrote this book, feeling like I would run into my characters on the central staircase.
In An Uncommon Duke, my hero and heroine, the Duke and Duchess of Winterbourne, live in Winter House in London. I based Winter House on Spencer House which is in the St James’s area of London and backs onto Green Park. This is the ancestral London residence of Princess Diana’s family. It was built in 1756 for the 1st Earl of Spencer and can be toured today on select dates. I was fortunate that I got to tour it the last time I was in London.
An unexpected countess is a treasure hunt romance that takes place in London. While I was writing this book I went to London to find historic locations that are around today where clues to a missing diamond could be hidden. One place is St James’s Church on Piccadilly in the St James’s area of London. This church was built in 1684 and designed by Christopher Wren. Another historic location is St James’s Square in London. This square was redesigned in 1817 by John Nash as the small gated park you see today. An interesting note about St Jame’s Square, on the evening of June 21st, 1815 a soiree was being held at #16 St James’s Square, hosted by Mrs Edmund Boehm. That night, in that home, the Prince Regent received word that the Duke of Wellington defeated Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo. Imagine being able to boast that news of this important victory was announced first in your home.
Windsor Castle of the Fourteenth Century inspires me. That’s when Edward III was adding wings and remodeling everything. All three of my Royal Wedding Stories are set there at least in part and I love imagining how the castle must have looked when parts of it were brand new.
On the other hand, the Round Tower Staircase, among the oldest parts of the castle, plays a key role in Secrets at Court and I looked at this image often, trying to imagine how it would have looked even earlier than this artist saw it, long before handrails were installed…
Ightham Mote in Kent is one of the few remaining original Tudor Manor houses in England (It has been renovated but much of it is original). It is surrounded by a moat which makes it quite unique. I used it as inspiration for the book Rescued by the Earl’s Vows. Anya Seton set her last novel at this house in 1972, so I am not the only author inspired by this house.
One of the most inspirational places in the world is The Alhambra Palace in Granada, Spain. It’s the setting for my forthcoming trilogy: Princesses of the Alhambra.
Places always get me going, although inspiration is rather like lightning, you never know when or where it may strike! My husband and I visited the Alhambra Palace a couple of years ago. Whilst I knew it was going to be beautiful, with its horseshoe arches and lacy plasterwork ceilings, I had no idea I would leave Spain with ideas for a trilogy whizzing about in my head. Stepping into those marbled courtyards really is like entering another world. Add to that a reading of Washington Irving’s tale, The Legend of the Three Beautiful Princesses, and the stories soon began to unfold…
My inspiration is St James’s Street in London because it preserves so many buildings, and even shops, from the Regency period – gentlemen’s clubs like White’s, Brooks’s and Boodles, shops such as Berry Bros & Rudd, Lobb’s the bootmakers and Lock & Co who made hats for Wellington and Nelson. At the foot of the street is St James’s Palace and, except for the traffic streaming past, this hasn’t changed at all since this print was made in 1809.
As a nerdy lover of all historical places, my inspiration flits around.
Currently it the beautiful Corfe Castle in Dorset which was destroyed by Oliver Cromwell during the English Civil War. Mr H took me to stay in a National Trust cottage at the foot of the castle for my 50th birthday this February.
This is me standing in the little back garden- what a view! And it clearly left its mark, because I’ve just finished writing the second book in my upcoming King’s Elite series where the hero lives in a castle in the West Country that has a craggy, ruined tower courtesy of Cromwell too.
York, the city I grew up in has inspired me.
Growing up surrounded every day by ruins and buildings from the Roman, Viking and Medieval periods right up to the grandeur of the Victorian era meant it was almost impossible not to fall in love with the past. When I wrote The Blacksmith’s Wife and wanted a city-dwelling heroine to be uprooted and sent to live in the middle of nowhere, setting it in York was the obvious choice as it is still possible to walk the streets and visit the buildings my medieval characters would have visited.
Without a doubt,
my historical inspiration for the Lovers and Legends series began on a castle trip to Wales. More specifically, the castle that started it all was Caerphilly.
That’s where I ‘saw’ Robert, the hero from The Knight’s Broken Promise. He was on bended knee under a tree…grieving. I simply had to write his story.
I love to visit Hanbury Hall, built in the early 18th century near Droitwich Spa in Worcestershire.
It never fails to inspire me, not only the house itself, but also the gardens and parkland that surround it.
And not forgetting the stories of the antics of the Vernon family, who built it. It even has an Ice House you can go inside – this was where ice was stored underground before the advent of fridges and freezers and I can vouch for the fact that it’s very cold!
The Palace on the Prairie is a relatively new home that inspires me as I live in an area of Oklahoma where unassigned lands weren’t opened for settlement until 1889. Built by a man who twice gained and lost a fortune in the oil industry, the Marland Mansion gives a glimpse into art and classic furnishings, including an Aubusson rug. The owl with the angry glare inspires a whimsical nature in my novels. Usually when I visit, I’m almost alone in the house except for the staff, and it allows my imagination to flourish.