Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Win A Copy of A Very Merry Chase in the Midwinter Eve Giveaway Hop

 This contest is now closed. The winner will be posted by midnight 12/23/2010.
And the lucky winner is
Tressa

You Can Win A Copy of my Regency Romance Novel
How Do you win?
It's Quick and Easy.
Leave a relevant comment on any post here at LadySilk.net
&
Like my Facebook author page.
It's just that simple!
The Contest runs from 12:01 AM on December 21st to 11:59 PM on December 22nd.
(Your copy of A Very Merry Chase will be in PDF format...
so it can be downloaded to read on your PC or Nook.)

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Lady Emma Hamilton Regency Romance Era Supermodel and Cultural Icon

My degrees are in history--which, when chosen as a profession, is probably the best way there is to die both educated and poor--but regardless of that fact there was never any other choice for me. Children and family notwithstanding, I've always loved history with a depth of passion unmatched by almost any other in my life--the unimaginable heroics, the glory and the majesty, the dark and scandalous hidden depths, the purity and the pain, the total culminating whimsy created by the collision of circumstance, fate...and opinion that has changed history's course 10 million times a day ever since time began. I love it all and can happily spend hours and days jumping from nebulously connected fact to nebulously connected fact like a bloodhound on a cold trail, seeking the truth behind some long ago writer's opinion....

Lady Hamilton as Thais by Sir Joshua ReynoldsWomen's history is my favorite and that is one historical topic that truly offers a world of cold trails to follow, for let's be honest here--to the victor not only goes the spoils; but the right to tell the story in the way they see fit--and when it comes to history...women were more often than not the losers. If there is ever any doubt about that in your mind--try reading contemporary 19th century accounts of the true Regency Romance era love story of the incredibly beautiful, Lady Emma Hamilton (1765-1815) and her lover, the brilliant naval strategist, Lord Admiral Nelson. He was the hero of his time and she was the mother of his illegitimate children and the bad-girl tabloid queen and supermodel of her day. He was venerated and buried with all honors as the hero of the Battle of Trafalgar and she was vilified by her country and the journalists of her day--condemned to die in pain and poverty in a foreign land.
Lady Hamilton as Circe. A hauntingly beautiful portrait by George Romney.
He was war torn, disabled and idolized as a war hero. She scratched her way up from humble beginnings and was denigrated for it; but what would he have been without her? True he was already a hero before they met; but she gained enormous influence with Neapolitan Queen Marie Caroline and used that influence to both the advantage of Nelson, her country and that of the fighting men of the British navy. In addition, she provided Nelson with a degree of unbounded love and adoration that could not help but counteract the disfiguring infirmities he had acquired along with the titles, honors and rewards that accompanied his status. Although the clearest picture of this can be achieved by reading his Love Letters to her, and in his last will and testament--if you don't have the time or inclination to read them, take a moment and watch this clip from That Hamilton Woman- (The Criterion Collection)--starring the gorgeous Vivian Leigh. (It's a wonderful movie. I saw it years ago and never forgot it--and I just gave myself a copy as a early Christmas present.)



"OCTOBER 21st, 1805. Then in sight of the Combined Fleets of France and Spain, distant about ten miles.

"WHEREAS the eminent services of EMMA HAMILTON, widow of the Right Honourable Sir WILLIAM HAMILTON, have been of the very greatest service to my King and Country, to my knowledge, without ever receiving any reward from either our King or Country:

"First, that she obtained the King of Spain's letter, in 1796, to his brother the King of Naples, acquainting him of his intention to declare war against England; from which letter the ministry sent out orders to the then Sir JOHN JERVIS, to strike a stroke if opportunity offered, against either the arsenals of Spain or her fleets:—that neither of these was done, is not the fault of Lady HAMILTON; the opportunity might have been offered:

"Secondly: the British Fleet under my command could never have returned the second time to Egypt, had not Lady HAMILTON'S influence with the Queen of Naples caused letters to be wrote to the Governor of Syracuse, that he was to encourage the Fleet's being supplied with every thing, should they put into any port in Sicily. We put into Syracuse, and received every supply; went to Egypt, and destroyed the French Fleet:

"Could I have rewarded these services, I would not now call upon my Country; but as that has not been in my power, I leave EMMA Lady HAMILTON therefore a legacy to my King and Country, that they will give her an ample provision to maintain her rank in life.

"I also leave to the beneficence of my Country my adopted Daughter, HORATIA NELSON THOMPSON; and I desire she will use in future the name of NELSON only.

"These are the only favours I ask of my King and Country, at this moment when I am going to fight their battle. May GOD bless my King and Country, and all those I hold dear! My Relations it is needless to mention: they will of course be amply provided for.

"NELSON and BRONTE.

"Witness  {HENRY BLACKWOOD.}

The prayer and codicil were both written with HIS LORDSHIP'S own hand, within three hours before the commencement of the engagement in which he died.  His express wishes were ignored by the country for which he fought, and as a result the love of his life died in pain, poverty and exile.

Before you leave be sure to enter one of our great contests.

Win A Beautiful Vintage Romance Comic From 1951 - Ends January 31, 2011

Win $500.00 worth of books in the Chronicle Books Happy Haulidays Giveaway- Ends December 10, 2010


Smiles and Good Fortune,

Teresa Thomas Bohannon

Author of the Regency Romance A Very Merry Chase

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Win A Beautiful Vintage Romance Comic Book

Enter Today Because....
On February 1, 2011,
Just In Time For Valentine's Day

To Promote My Newly Released Regency Romance Novel
I Will Be Giving Away A Very Special Gift To One Lucky Visitor
At Either

How do you enter to win?
If you are age 18 or older...
Simply post a comment AND Like my author page on Facebook.

The Winner Will Be Randomly Drawn From All Qualifying Entrants.

Contest is open for valid entries from
12:01 AM November 20, 2010 until Midnight January 31, 2011



What will the winner receive?
The Winning Entrant Will Receive An
Original Near Mint Condition Vintage Comic Book
Perfect Love #3
Released in 1951

Enter For Your Chance To Win This Near Mint Vintage Comic Book Perfect Love # 3.
Value: $120.00 - $200.00.
You Can Also Receive Additional Entries In The Following Ways. *
  • You Can Receive 1 Extra Entry by Liking This Page on Facebook 
  • You Can Receive 1 Extra Entry by Following This Blog on Google Connect.
    • You Can Recieve 1 Extra Entry by Following This Blog on Networked Blogs
    • You Can Receive 1 Extra Entry By Following Me On Twitter @TeresaBohannon
    • You Can Receive 1 Extra Entry By Tweeting About This Contest - Maximum of 1 tweet per day - 5 tweets points max
    • You Can Receive 1 Extra Entry By Blogging About This Contest
    • You Can Receive 1 Extra Entry By Posting A Link On Your Blog To My Regency Romance Novel A Very Merry Chase  **
    A Very Merry Chase - An Old Fashioned Regency Romance Novel.
    • You Receive 1 Extra Entry by Posting This Button On Your Website or Blog's Main PageLadySilks Regency Romance Revival Home of The Regency Romance Novel - A Very Merry Chase.
    IMPORTANT: If you have more than one entry you will need to count them up and tell me how many you earned in a comment or an Teresa (AT) LadySilk (DOT) Net OR if you prefer you can fill out the form
    Smiles, Good Fortune and Good Luck,
    Teresa

    The Contest Closes at Midnight January 31, 2011.  All comments and entries must be completed and received before the deadline.  Entrant is fully responsible for the timeliness of their entry and any qualifying proof.  I will send an email to the winner and they will have 3 days to reply with a mailing address so I can mail their prize.  If they have not responded after 2 attempts I will choose another winner.

    **If you want to help promote my Regency Romance novel, A Very Merry Chase, feel free to use your own Amazon or Barnes & Noble (Adsense) Affiliate Link. Also there is a Complimentary Promotional Package in the menu at the right with PLR articles and an ebook you can use with your affiliate links to giveaway as part of your promotion.

    Sunday, November 7, 2010

    Regency LOL Entries - Help Me Decide

    Hello Friends,

    As it turns out promoting a novel is almost more work than writing and editing one. Which means, of course, that I have no time to write these days because I'm spending all my time trying to promote my Regency Romance A Very Merry Chase. Anyway, as part of my promotional efforts I am entering a contest....

    The Risky Regencies Blog is having their 2010 Regency LOL Competition. I've made up six potential entries. Please help me decide which one to enter.
    Smiles and Thank You,
    Teresa



    Iz Too Sexy For My Shirt
    I Iz Not A Demi-Rep, Wez Just Friends With Benefits
    But Mama...I Gotz To Haz Dampened Petticoats....
    Luv Inz A Cottage Sux...I Wantz A Dooz Overz...
















    Somzdez My Duke Will Comez
    Shuzh...I Telz Yuz A Wittle Secret. I'm Praqticing Spying on Napolweon....
















     Dis Not Regency...Mez In The Wrong Genre!
     Repeatz After Mez...Thou Shalt Not Waltz At Almacks Withoutz Permizzions!
    Dis Not Bodice Ripper...Dis Regency Putz On A Shirt!
















    I Can Haz Two Dukes, Mama Bez So Proud....

    Saturday, November 6, 2010

    Extended Excerpt From My Regency Romance Novel - A Very Merry Chase

    A Very Merry Chase - An Old Fashioned Comedy of Errors Style Regency Romance Novel

    Set in early 19th century Regency England, and harking back in style to the heyday of Georgette Heyer and Barbara Cartland, A Very Merry Chase is a comedy of both manners and errors that boasts empire fashions, dashing characters, verbal sparring matches and witty repartee mingled with just a hint of mystery, danger and intrigue.

    *****

    The highwayman was tall, so much so that he had to stoop to see his worthy opponent...even through the coach's open door. He wore a dark cloak topped off with a wide brimmed hat and a black mask, off-setting large gray eyes, which glittered like steel in the moonlight. A sardonic smile played over his generous, well formed lips and highlighted the strength of his jaw.

    "Would I be correct in assuming you to be the famous—or shall we say, infamous—Lady Sabrina St. Clair? She, who dazzles the male population of the ton with her beauty only to break their hearts, and who causes the ladies to bristle with envy as dark and as green as her own lovely eyes?"

    Her look of disgust elicited a full throated laugh that only made her angrier—a state of affairs not in the least mitigated by his calm order for to the groom to gather up the guns and resume his seat on the box. She sat quietly enough; but her fury was unconcealed. He returned her pistol with a smiling flourish; but as he had carefully emptied it beforehand that also did naught to appease. She favored him with a look meant to freeze blood.

    She was vibrant in her anger. The devil took hold of him, and he could not resist further goading her. "Before you so rudely interrupted me, My Lady, I do believe we were discussing compensation."

    Sabrina grabbed up her reticule which she flung once more into his smirking face. "Take this and be done with it! Aye, and the jewels as well," she said, kicking the heavy case nearer to the door. "Take them all and be done with it. ‘tis a small enough price to pay to be rid of you."

    "You offer your jewels most freely, my pet. Could it be that you do not cherish them overmuch—or could it be that you have other jewels upon which you set a higher value?"

    “I am most certainly not your pet! And I am indeed most assuredly apologetic, sir, if you are disappointed in my meager supply of jewels." Her carefully articulated words slowly dripped with near deadly venom. "When next we meet, I will contrive to bring a better selection for your procurement."

    "Ah, but you mistake my simple words, my p... my lovely Firebrand. Cold hard stones cannot hold a candle to the living, breathing prize I see before me. No...my love, I think I would prefer that which mere coin cannot purchase…a closer look at the emerald of your eyes, the warm luster of your pearly skin, and the touch of your ruby lips—that...that my dear lady would be prize plunder indeed."

    He expected genteel fireworks; but received instead a heartfelt shock. His reward was neither ladylike blushes nor even a delicate swoon. Sabrina retaliated with a stinging slap and a veritable tirade of angry rants and furious imprecations.

    When her angry diatribe finally wound to a breathless close, he laughed out loud before slowly, exaggeratedly applauding her most unladylike display of temper. "Well done. Well done, indeed, little Firebrand. Why I doubt not that the blowsiest fishwife on the streets of London could have performed better?"

    Insulted and outraged, she started to speak, but he stopped her with a finger to his well-formed lips and a shake of his head. "Seriously, my dear. Tsk. Tsk. And here I believed myself in the company of a fine lady—showing you all the courtesy due to one of your supposedly elevated station."

    "Bloody hell, you did." she replied, attempting to land another stinging slap.

    At this point, Lady Bethany, shocked absolutely to the core of her gentle soul, could take no more and swooned dead away.

    He pointed this out with no little enjoyment. "Now, my fine lady, look what you've done. You should be ashamed?"

    Sabrina, not in the least contrite, began to call down curses on not only the man himself; but on all of his ancestors past and his descendants yet to be born.

    "My dear, that really is quite enough. If you persist in acting like a strumpet, then, I fear, as a strumpet you shall be treated."

    She gasped aloud and jerked away; but he was lighting fast and inside the coach with one foot even before he finished speaking. He laughed as he swept her firmly into his arms and out into the moonlit night.

    And thus begins the chase....

    The complete First Chapter is available for download in the "A Very Merry Chase" menu on the right. It is also available from Amazon for the Kindle and PC and Barnes and Noble for the Nook, PC and other ereaders.

    Smiles and Good Fortune,
    Teresa
    PS: Be sure to download your Free Promotional Package for A Very Merry Chase. You can easily customize it with your own affiliate links for A Very Merry Chase. It includes PLR articles on the life of Beau Brummell, Regency Romance Era graphics, and a complimentary Regency Romance novel to customize with your own affiliate links for A Very Merry Chase which you can give away from your own blog or website.

    Thursday, October 28, 2010

    FOOTLIGHTS AND CORONETS REGENCY ROMANCE ERA ACTRESSES WHO MARRIED INTO THE PEERAGE - Part IV

    FOOTLIGHTS AND CORONETS REGENCY ROMANCE ERA ACTRESSES WHO MARRIED INTO THE PEERAGE

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



    While my Lady Derby was still new to her dignities, Eliza O'Neill was beginning to prattle in the most charming brogue ever heard across the Irish Channel, and to grow through beautiful childhood to witching girlhood. The daughter of a strolling actor who led his company of buskers through every county in Ireland from Cork to Donegal, the love of things theatrical was in her veins; and while she was still playing with her dolls she was impersonating the Duke of York to her father's Richard III. Everywhere the little witch, with the merry dancing eyes, won hearts and applause by her sprightly acting, until even so excellent a judge of histrionic art as John Kemble sought to carry her away to London and to a wider sphere of activity.

    From Dublin, he wrote to Harris, manager of Covent Garden Theatre:

    "There is a very pretty Irish girl here, with a touch of the brogue on her tongue; she has much talent and some genius. With a little expense and some trouble we might make her an object for John Bull's admiration in the juvenile tragedy. I have sounded the fair lady on the subject of a London engagement. She proposes to append a very long family, to which I have given a decided negative. If she accepts the offered terms I shall sign, seal and ship herself and clan off from Cork direct. She is very pretty, and so, in fact, is her brogue, which, by the way, she only uses in conversation. She totally forgets it when with Shakespeare and other illustrious companions."

    And thus it was that John O'Neill's daughter carried her charms and gifts to London town in the autumn of 1812, when she justified Kemble's discernment by one of the most brilliant series of impersonations, ranging from Juliet to Belvidera, that had been seen up to that time on the English stage. For seven years she shone a very bright star in the firmament of the drama, winning as much popularity off as on the stage, before she consented to yield her hand to one of the many suitors who sought it—Mr William Wrixon Becher, a Member of Parliament of some distinction. Eliza O'Neill lived to be addressed as "my Lady," and to see her eldest son a Baronet, and her second boy wedded to a daughter of the second Earl of Listowel.

    Five years before Miss O'Neill's Juliet came to captivate London, another idol of the stage was led to the altar by William, first Earl of Craven. Louisa Brunton, for that was the name of Craven's Countess, was cradled, like her successor, on the stage; for her father was well known at every town on the Norwich Circuit as manager of a popular company of actors, as devoted to his family of eight children as to his art. When Louisa made her entry into the world she was the sixth of the clamorous flock who roamed the country in the wake of their strolling father; and it would have been odd indeed if she had not acquired a love of the theatre to stimulate the acting strain in her blood.

    Such were the charms and talent that the child developed that, by the time she came to her eighteenth birthday she was carried off to London to appear at Covent Garden Theatre as Lady Townley in The Provoked Husband; and the general verdict was that no such clever acting had been seen since Miss Farren was lured from the stage by a coronet. And not only did she create an immediate sensation by her acting; her beauty, which a contemporary writer tells us, "combined the stateliness of Juno with the gentler and beauty of a Venus," made her a Queen of Hearts as of actresses. So seductive a prize was not likely to be long left to adorn the stage; and although Miss Brunton consistently turned a blind eye to many a seductive offer, she had to succumb when his Lordship of Craven joined the queue of her courtiers. Four years of stage sovereignty and then the coronet of a Countess; such was the record of this daughter of a strolling player, whose greatest ambition had been to provide food enough for his hungry family. Lady Craven lived nearly sixty years to enjoy her dignities and splendours, surviving long enough to see her grandson take his place as third Earl of his line.

    For twenty years the English stage had no star to compare in brilliancy with Harriet Mellon, whose life-story is one of the most romantic in theatrical annals. From the January day in 1795 when she made her bow on the Drury Lane stage as Lydia in The Rivals, to her farewell appearance in February 1815, a month after she had become a wife, her career was one unbroken sequence of triumphs. To quote the words of a chronicler,

    She shone supreme, splendid, unapproachable, not only by her brilliant genius, but by her beauty and social fascinations.

    That she revelled in her conquests is certain; for to not one of her army of wooers, many of them men of high rank, would she deign more than a smile, until old Thomas Coutts came, with all the impetus of his money-bags behind him, and literally swept her off her feet The lady who had spurned coronets could not resist a million of money, qualified though it was by the admiration of a senile lover.

    Nor did she ever have cause to regret her choice; for no husband could have been more devoted or more lavish than this shabby old banker who used to chuckle when he was taken for a beggar, and alms were thrust into his receptive hand. Wonderful stories are told of Mr Coutts' generosity to his beautiful wife, for whom nothing that money could buy was too good.

    One day—it is Captain Gronow who tells the tale—Mr Hamlet, a jeweller, came to his house, bringing for the banker's inspection a magnificent diamond-cross which had been worn on the previous day (of George IV's Coronation) by no less a personage than the Duke of York. At sight of its rainbow fires Mrs Coutts exclaimed: "How happy I should be with such a splendid piece of jewellery!" "What is it worth?" enquired her husband. "I could not possibly part with it for less than £15,000," the jeweller replied. "Bring me a pen and ink," was the only remark of the doting banker who promptly wrote a cheque for the money, and beamed with delight as he placed the jewel on his wife's bosom.
    Upon her breast a sparkling cross she wore
    Which Jews might kiss and infidels adore.

    And this devotion—idolatry almost—lasted as long as life itself, reaching its climax in his will, in which he left his actress-wife every penny of his enormous fortune, amounting to £900,000, "for her sole use and benefit, and at her absolute disposal, without the deduction of a single legacy to any other person."

    That a widow so richly dowered with beauty and gold should have a world of lovers in her train is not to be wondered at. For five years she retained her new freedom, and then yielded to the wooing of William Aubrey de Vere, ninth Duke of St Albans (whose remote ancestor was Nell Gwynn, the Drury Lane orange-girl and actress), who made a Duchess of her one June day in 1827.

    For ten short years Harriet Mellon queened it as a Duchess, retaining her vast fortune in her own hands and dispensing it with a large-hearted charity and regal hospitality, moving among Royalties and cottagers alike with equal dignity and graciousness. At her beautiful Highgate home she played the hostess many a time to two English Kings and their Queens.

    "The inhabitants of Highgate still bear in memory," Mr Howitt records, "her splendid fêtes to Royalty, in some of which, they say, she hired all the birds of the bird-dealers in London, and fixing their cages in the trees, made her grounds one great orchestra of Nature's music."

    When her Grace died, universally beloved and regretted, in 1837, she proved her gratitude and loyalty to her banker-husband by leaving all she possessed, a fortune now swollen to £1,800,000, to Miss Angela Coutts (grand-daughter of Thomas Coutts and his first wife, Eliza Stark, a domestic servant) who, as the Baroness Burdett-Coutts of later years, proved by her large munificence a worthy trustee and dispenser of such vast wealth.

    Such are but a few of the romantic alliances between the peerage and the stage, of which, during the last score of years, since Miss Connie Gilchrist blossomed into the Countess of Orkney and Miss Belle Bilton into my Lady Clancarty, there has been such an epidemic.

    Wednesday, October 27, 2010

    FOOTLIGHTS AND CORONETS REGENCY ROMANCE ERA ACTRESSES WHO MARRIED INTO THE PEERAGE - Part III

    FOOTLIGHTS AND CORONETS REGENCY ROMANCE ERA ACTRESSES WHO MARRIED INTO THE PEERAGE
    ~~~~~~~

    Since Catherine Stephens wore her coronet—and before—many an actress has found in the stage-door a portal to the Peerage. Elizabeth Farren, who was cradled in the year before George III came to his Throne, was the daughter of a gifted and erratic Irishman, who abandoned pills and potions to lead the life of a strolling actor, a career which came to a premature end while his daughter was still a child. Fortunately for Elizabeth, her mother was a woman of capacity and character, who made a gallant struggle to give her children as good a start in life as was possible to her straitened means; and by the time she was fourteen the girl, who had inherited her father's passion for the stage, was able to make a most creditable first appearance at Liverpool, as Rosetta, in Bickerstaff's Love in a Village.

    So adept did she prove in her adopted art that within four years she made her curtsy at the Haymarket as Miss Hardcastle, in She Stoops to Conquer; and at once, by her grace and brilliant acting, won the hearts of theatre-going London; while her refinement, at that time by no means common on the stage, and her social graces won for her a welcome in high circles. Many a lover of title or eminence sought the hand of the sparkling and lovely Irishwoman, and none of them all was more ardent in his wooing than Charles James Fox, then at the zenith of his career as statesman; but she would have naught to say to any one of them all. Her fate, however, was not long in coming; and it came in the form of Edward Stanley, twelfth Earl of Derby, who, before his first wife, a daughter of the Duke of Hamilton, had been many months in the family-vault, was at the knees of the beautiful actress. He had little difficulty in persuading her to become his Countess; and one May day, in 1797, he placed the wedding-ring on her finger in the drawing-room of his Grosvenor Square house.

    For more than thirty years Lady Derby moved in her new circle, a splendid and gracious figure, received at Court with special favour by George III and his Queen, before she died in 1829, transmitting her blood, through her daughter, Lady Mary Stanley, to the Earl of Wilton of to-day.

    Tuesday, October 26, 2010

    FOOTLIGHTS AND CORONETS REGENCY ROMANCE ERA ACTRESSES WHO MARRIED INTO THE PEERAGE - Part II

    FOOTLIGHTS AND CORONETS REGENCY ROMANCE ERA ACTRESSES WHO MARRIED INTO THE PEERAGE - Part II
    ~~~~~~~

    Duchess Lavinia had been dead thirty years when Mary Catherine Bolton, who was to follow in her footsteps, was obscurely cradled in Long Acre in 1790. Like Lavinia Fenton, Mary Bolton was born for the stage. As a child the sweetness of her voice and the grace of her movements charmed all who knew her. The greatest teachers of the day taught her to sing, and when only sixteen she made a brilliant début as Polly, recalling all the triumphs of her famous predecessor.

    But it was as Ariel that she made her real conquest of London. "So pretty and winning in pouting wilfulness, so caressing, her voice having the flowing sweetness of music, she bounded along with so light a foot that it scarcely seemed to rest upon the stage." It is little wonder that Ariel danced her way into many hearts, and that even such a sedate personage as Edward, second Lord Thurlow, should so far succumb to her fascinations as to offer her marriage. Her wedded life was only too brief, but she rewarded her lord with three sons; and a liberal share of her blood flows in the veins of the Baron of to-day, her grandson.

    Not many years after Mary Bolton had danced her way into the Peerage London was losing its head over still another "Polly Peachum"—Catherine Stephens, daughter of a carver and gilder in the West of London. Miss Stephens, who like her predecessors in the rôle, sang divinely even as a child, was but seventeen when she made her first stage curtsy, and won fame at a bound, as Mandano in Artaxerxes. One triumph succeeded another until she reached the pinnacle of success as Polly of the Beggar's Opera.

    Catherine Stephens had no lack of gilded and titled lovers; but she was too much wedded to her art to listen to any vows or to be lured from it even by a coronet. Although, however, she eluded her destiny until the verge of middle age she was fated to die a Countess; and a Countess she became when George Capel, fifth Earl of Essex, asked her to be his wife. The Earl had passed his eightieth birthday, and was nearly forty years her senior; but he made her his bride, though he left her a widow within a year of their nuptial-day.

    Sunday, October 24, 2010

    FOOTLIGHTS AND CORONETS REGENCY ROMANCE ERA ACTRESSES WHO MARRIED INTO THE PEERAGE - Part I

    FOOTLIGHTS AND CORONETS REGENCY ROMANCE ERA ACTRESSES WHO MARRIED INTO THE PEERAGE
    ~~~~~~~

    Ever since that tough old soldier Charles, first Earl of Monmouth and third Earl of Peterborough, hauled down his flag before the battery of Anastasia Robinson's charms, and made a Countess of his victor, a coronet has dazzled the eyes of many an actress with its rainbow allurement, and has proved the passport by which she has stepped from the stage to the gilded circle which environs the throne.

    The hero of the Peninsula and the terror of the French was an old man, with one foot in the grave, when the "nightingale" of the London theatres brought him to his gouty knees; but so resolute was he to give her his name that, to make assurance doubly sure, he faced the altar twice with her, before starting on his honeymoon journey across the Channel.

    Pope, who was a friend of the amorous Earl, draws a pathetic picture of him in the latter unromantic days of his romance. During a visit to Bevis Mount, near Southampton, the poet writes:

    "I found my Lord Peterborough on his couch, where he gave me an account of the excessive sufferings he had passed through, with a weak voice, but spirited. He next told me he had ended his domestic affairs through such difficulties from the law that gave him as much torment of mind as his distemper had done of body, to do right to the person to whom he had obligations beyond expression (Anastasia Robinson). That he had found it necessary not only to declare his marriage to all his relations, but since the person who married them was dead, to re-marry her in the church at Bristol, before witnesses. He talks of getting toward Lyons; but undoubtedly he can never travel but to the sea-shore. I pity the poor woman who has to share in all he suffers, and who can, in no one thing, persuade him to spare himself."

    Pope, however, understated the Earl's vigour or his indomitable spirit; for he not only succeeded in getting to the sea-shore, but as far as Lisbon, where he died in the following October, but a few months after his second nuptials. My Lady Peterborough and Monmouth lived to see many more years, and by her dignity and sweetness to win as much approval in the Peerage as in the lowlier sphere of the stage.

    Anastasia Robinson was the first star of the stage to wear a coronet, but where she led the way, there were many dainty feet eager to follow; and, curiously enough, it was Gay's famous Beggar's Opera that pointed the way to three of them.

    Any one who chanced to drop in at a certain coffee-house at Charing Cross, kept by a Mr Fenton, in the days when the first George was King, might—indeed, he could not have failed to—have made the acquaintance of a "little witch" (as Swift called her) with a voice of gold, who was destined one day to be a Duchess. This little elf with the merry eyes, dancing feet, and the voice of an angel, was none other than Mrs Fenton's daughter by a former husband, a naval officer, and the prime favourite of all the wits and actors whom her fame drew to the coffee-house.

    She sang for her stepfather's customers, danced for them, charmed them with her ready wit, and sent them into fits of laughter by her childish drolleries. Of course there was only one career possible for her, they all declared. She must go on the stage, and then she could not fail to take London by storm. She had the best masters money could secure for her; and when she reached her eighteenth birthday Lavinia Fenton made her first curtsy on the Haymarket stage as Monimia, in The Orphan. Her début was electrifying, sensational. Such beauty, such grace, such wonderful acting were a revelation, a fresh stimulus to jaded appetites. Within a few days she had London at her feet. She was the toast of the gallants, the envy and despair of great ladies. Titled wooers tumbled over each other in their eagerness to pay her homage; but Lavinia laughed at them all. She knew her value; and her freedom was more to her than luxury which had not the sanction of the wedding-ring.

    Her real stage triumph, however, was yet to come. After appearing in the Beaux's Stratagem with brilliant success she was offered the part of Polly Peachum in Gay's Opera, which was about to make its first bow to the public. The salary was but fifteen shillings a week (afterwards doubled); but the part was after Lavinia's own heart. For a few intoxicating weeks she was the idol and rage of London; her picture filled the windows of every print-shop; the greatest ladies had it painted on their fans. Royalty smiled its sweetest on her.

    Then, at the very zenith of her triumph, the startling news went forth—"The Duke of Bolton has run away with Polly Peachum." And the news was true. The popular idol, who had turned her back on so many tempting offers, had actually run away with Charles Paulet, third Duke of Bolton and Constable of the Tower of London; and the stage knew her no more. For twenty-three years she was a Duchess in all but name, until the Duke, on the death of his legal wife, daughter of the Earl of Carberry, was at last able to put Lavinia in her place.

    As Duchess, a title which she lived nine years to enjoy, she won golden opinions by her modest dignity, her large-heartedness, and by the cleverness and charm of her conversation, which none admired more than Lord Bathurst and Lord Granville.