I was an international product manager for a large bank. Before video conferencing, I had to travel to teach seminars and visit clients. My trips were a minimum of two weeks. It optimized my travel costs. Most times I traveled alone and met bank colleagues in country. To pass the time on the long overseas trips from New York, especially the ones to Asia, I read books, romance books, historical romance books and fell in love with British history.
Here are my top six reasons for loving British history. Spoiler Alert! Not all the reasons are book-based.
6. Castles. Crenellated walls, stone towers, clammy dungeons. From motte and bailey structures of Norman England to the pretty, showy palaces of the Tudors. I especially love the ruins—like Corfe Castle, destroyed by Parliament during the English Civil War. There’s real history in those walls, my friends.
Castles hold a special magic for me. I associate them with knights and chivalry, the code of honor and of course saving damsels in distress. I had never seen a real castle until I traveled overseas for business. I was not disappointed. Hampton Court, Versailles, and Eilean Donan were all wonderful. I, however, live in outside of New York City. We don’t have any castles. We do have The Cloisters.
5. British television costume dramas. Pride and Prejudice, Downton Abbey, Vanity Fair, Call the Midwife, Hercule Poirot. Some people love the 1920’s dropped-waist dresses, the elegant lines of Edwardian fashions, Marie Antoinette’s hair, Joan of Arc’s armor and the flat bodices of the Renaissance bodices. But wait. The Renaissance bodices on book covers aren’t flat! They’re very well… er… rounded, if they’re on at all.
4. Archaeology. After seeing Raiders of the Lost Ark as a kid, I wanted to be an archaeologist (but Time Team. And the recent discovery of Richard III’s bones in a Leicester car park?
Not too long after King Richard’s bones were found archaeologists unearthed the grave of a young couple holding hands and looking at each other. My active imagination started plotting a story before I finished reading the article.
3. Murder and mayhem. What draws us to these themes? The Gunpowder Plot. The execution of Anne Boleyn. The Blitz. I think it’s because in the midst of all the violence and injustice, we see who we really are and imagine what we would do.
2. Romance. I love the chivalry of King Arthur as well as the beauty and enlightenment of the Renaissance. Romance, the code of chivalry defined romance for hundreds of years. It's only in the last 75 years that romance has found a new path.
1. Characters. Kings and queens and commoners. Fascinating people who lived in fascinating times. Stories are all about the characters dealing with situations, overcoming their fears and, in a happily ever after story, gaining their happily ever after.