|Rachel Knowles (2021)|
Inspired by Austen
It has been said that every writer must first be a reader, and 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.
My own Mr Darcy
I met my Mr Darcy, Andrew, at Southampton 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. Although this helped me to appreciate Andrew’s good points, I was still 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 35 years and have four grown-up daughters and four grandchildren.
Whilst my primary school teachers encouraged my story writing, my English teacher at secondary school squished my creativity. History, not English, became my favourite subject, but for reasons I can't now fathom, I went on to study economics at university, and then trained to be an accountant.
But I never lost my desire to write, and in October 2011, I decided to pursue my dream of writing and publishing a novel. I knew 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. 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 cover what is sometimes called the long Regency, from about 1780 through to George IV’s death in 1830.
The Merry Romances
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 (2015), a clean historical romance set in London and Weymouth, Dorset, in 1788-9.
Side-tracked for a while writing What Regency Women Did For Us (2017) for Pen & Sword History, it took me nearly six years to publish A Reason for Romance (2021), the next book in The Merry Romances series.
I'm currently writing book three, A Single Obsession.
|Andrew and Rachel (2021)|
My husband Andrew shares my love of history and is better qualified in it than I am as he studied History and Archaeology at university. Whilst interested in history of all periods, he has allowed my penchant for all things Georgian to bring a focus to his historical research and he has fully embraced the Georgian era.
Andrew accompanies me on all my visits to National Trust and other historic properties and takes lots of photographs. He also has a keen interest in the history of Weymouth, where we live. He works as a small business trainer, explainer and coach, and teaches people how to use social media for business.
Last updated 17 July 2021