Inspired by Austen
It has been said that every writer must first be a reader. Suffice it to say, I have always loved reading. As a young girl, I was fascinated by tales of fantasy such as Enid Blyton's Enchanted Wood and wrote my own magical adventures - always with a happy ending.
When I was thirteen, I read Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice for the first time. I fell in love, not only with Mr Darcy, but with the romance of the Regency age. Over the years, I have devoured numerous Regency romances – some good, some bad – and half-written several of my own.
Researching to write
In October 2011, I made the decision to actively pursue my dream of having a novel published. I knew that I wanted to write a historically accurate Regency romance. However, I was aware that much of my knowledge of the period came from reading Regency romances rather than history books. Whilst I was confident that Austen was a reliable source, I knew that other novels were not. Alas, I soon discovered that even Georgette Heyer did not get everything right!
I started this blog to record my research for future reference and as a resource for others. As I became immersed in the history of the period, I soon realised that certain key figures like Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, had died before the Regency had even started, and so I expanded my research to include the whole of the late Georgian period, from about 1780 through to George IV’s death in 1830.
A Perfect Match
When I finally started writing, I decided to embark on a completely new project rather than rehash the best of my earlier attempts. I left my Regency heroine for a future book and chose to write the story of her parents. The result is A Perfect Match, a historical romance set in London and Weymouth, Dorset, in 1788-9, which was published in May 2015.
A degree in economics and a professional accountancy qualification are perhaps not the ideal credentials for a writer of a historical blog. That said, history was my favourite subject at school, and I have been researching my family history for over thirty years.
My own Mr Darcy
I met my Mr Darcy, Andrew, at university and it was most certainly not love at first sight. However, we did become friends and he soon became convinced that I was the girl he wanted to marry. I did not agree! I met someone on holiday but he soon turned out to be a Wickham but, although this helped me to appreciate Andrew’s good points, I was not in love.
We are both committed Christians, and so we decided to pray that one of us would change our minds. I never expected it to be me! I fell in love and have never fallen out of it. The rest is, as they say, history. We have been happily married for nearly thirty years, and have four lovely daughters and two grandchildren.
The last few years
Since publishing A Perfect Match, I have written a non-fiction title for Pen & Sword – What Regency Women Did For Us (April 2017) – which tells the stories of 12 incredible Regency women.
I am a regular speaker at the Dorset Women’s Institute and other groups. Currently my most popular talk is Weymouth in the time of Jane Austen which I give in my Regency costume.
You can read about my research methods here.
I have always loved both history and writing, but although I gained my degree in History and Archaeology, I ended up training as an accountant. In 2009, after a variety of business roles, redundancy nudged me to change my career path and I became a freelance writer.
My work now includes writing for businesses and other organisations of all sizes as well as training people in how to use social media. I have written several business books, on writing an effective CV and getting started with social media.
I am a volunteer for Weymouth Museum and have a keen interest in local history. Whilst interested in history of all periods, Rachel’s penchant for all things Georgian has brought a focus to my own historical research.
Updated 2 May 2017