We’re massively excited to reveal the cover for our next book A Georgian Heroine: The Intriguing Life of Rachel Charlotte Williams Biggs which is due to be published later this year, again by Pen & Sword Books. It is now available to pre-order via Pen & Swords Books or Amazon and all other bookshops.
Rachel or Charlotte as she preferred to be known, really has tested our detective skills as she spent her life ‘under the radar’ despite everything she actually achieved in life and remained something of an enigma.
This book really has been a long time in the writing, as every time we thought we had found out all there was to know about her, Charlotte threw us another snippet, as if from nowhere, and off we disappeared again down yet another rabbit hole.
We thought we would share with you a little about how we came across Charlotte and what a complete nightmare and joy she has proved to be. We have gone through so many emotions we can’t begin to describe whilst piecing together her life.
Whilst researching Grace Dalrymple Elliott’s life (for our first book, An Infamous Mistress) we came across Charlotte’s name in connection with the home of one of Grace’s relatives. Our first thought was that it was a vaguely interesting snippet of information and perhaps worth, at the very most, a paragraph in Grace’s book, but absolutely nothing more than that.
We then came across Charlotte’s ‘Testament’, her version of events that took place during her teenage years. At this point we knew her full life story needed to be told – she would either be immensely proud or absolutely furious that we haven’t left her to rest in peace (probably the former, if we’re honest).
At first, we couldn’t decide whether her Testament was a work of fiction or a factual account of shocking events that took place during her teenage years. We debated for months about her, swaying from completely believing her account, to thinking it was mere fiction as it read so much like a tragic Samuel Richardson novel.
I (Sarah) was less convinced than Jo that she was telling the truth, but the more we uncovered the more persuaded I became that the majority of it was true, too many of the facts checked out for it to be fiction.
So, with that one part of her life pieced together, in our usual detective fashion we simply had to find out more, where did she come from and what happened to her after this shocking ordeal? So off we went, desperate to find the missing pieces of the jigsaw.
What we discovered about her was far from anything we could ever have imagined. After a horrendous ordeal, she completely reinvented herself.
We came across Professor Linda Colley’s book ‘Britons: Forging The Nation 1707-1837’ in which our heroine gets a mention. Colley describes her as:
‘an obscure, middle-class widow from the Welsh border’
From the Welsh borders – almost true. Obscure – well perhaps, she shunned the limelight, not that limelight was easy to achieve at that time for a woman. Middle class – probably. A widow – well, that’s another mystery which we’ll reveal in our book!
Rather than tell you more about the story itself we have included rather a lot of what appear to be random images, for which we offer no explanation, apart from to say that if you read the book they will make sense to you.
Charlotte was in fact, the instigator of our ‘All Things Georgian‘ blog as we needed to find somewhere to store pieces of information we had found about her, so we have been writing about events in Charlotte’s life in a variety of blogs for quite some time now as we’ve pieced together her life, these include:
Arabella Williams – Le Petit Matelot
Robert Carpenter, Drury Lane actor
Rehab for 18th-century prostitutes – The Magdalen Hospital
The Dunston Pillar: celebrating the 50 year reign of King George III
Finally, to whet your appetite we’ll leave you with the back of the jacket.
Header image: The three eldest princesses by Thomas Gainsborough. Royal Collection Trust.