Sunday, January 16, 2011

Juicy Bits of Agony

By Taryn Kincaid

         So...how do you get  your ideas?

         If we're talking historicals (and of course we are!), Regencies and Victorian romances, specifically, there's a treasure trove of tantalizing tidbits I stumbled across recently that cannot fail to fire your imagination and fill you with inspiration. (Unless your heart no longer beats, which is another story entirely and, in which case, perhaps you should be delving into paranormals.)


        Apparently, back in the days of yore (and perhaps still for all I know), The Times (that'd be the London Times), ran a newspaper feature somewhat similar to the classified ads and personals of today.  This second column became known as "The Agony" because it was chock-o-block with titillating scandal, the woes of star-crossed lovers, secret babies, financial ruin, family skeletons,  trysts galore, prodigal sons and daughers and illicit romances.  In 1881, some of the juiciest of these were collected by a lady named Alice Clay and published by Chatto & Windus, Piccadilly.

          The book has passed out of copyright and been digitized, and it's available for your personal perusal on-line or as a pdf, epub or Kindle (and other) versions. This 332-page cornucopia is like "The Encyclopedia of What Ifs."



         I herewith give you some additional entries:

 Monday, January 13, 1800.
THE ANSWER of a LETTER to an OFFICER at HEREFORD is, "That he Was."

Thursday, December 18, 1800.
A CARD -- If the Lady who a Gentleman handed into her carriage from Covent Garden Theatre, on Wednesday, the third of this month, will oblige the Advertiser with a line to Z. Z., Spring Garden Coffee House, saying if married or single, she will quiet the mind of a young Nobleman, who has tried, in vain to find the Lady. The carriage was ordered to Bond Street. The Lady may depend upon honour and secrecy. Nothing but the most honourable interview is intended. The Lady was in mourning, and sufficiently cloathed to distinguish her for possessing every virtue and charm that man could desire in a female that he would make choice of for a Wife. Deception will be detected, as the Lady's person can never be forgot.
E

Saturday, June 16, 1804.
TO MAME. "Forget" you? By Heaven I cannot! Engraven on my soul is your memory, in deepest characters, which time vainly will endeavour to efface, contracted as now must be its span, since without one remonstrance, one expostulation, you can resolve for ever to forget me. Wherefore, then, often warned, persist in exciting a reluctant, indeed, but never more unfeigned, sensibility only to wound it? DO I DESERVE THIS? Is it generous? Is it equitable? But severe no longer, welcome now, is the mandate of authority, enjoining oblivion of
ORL O.

Friday, September 21, 1804
IF the YOUTH THAT LEFT ISLINGTON on Sunday evening can remember that he ever had a Mother, he is informed he will soon be deprived of that blessing, except he immediately writes particulars, or personally appears before her. His friend will redress any circumstance, and settle every point to his satisfaction.

Thursday, September 21, 1820
H begs leave to acknowledge receipt of J.A.'s communication, and to inform him, that he need not hesitate in naming the harbour and using his own oars.

Saturday, November 6, 1824
JOE to JACK -- SURRENDER!

         Now, I admit I did not get the germ of the idea for Healing Hearts, my February 28 Carina Press release, from any of these. But I am suddenly seized with all sorts of possibilities. I imagine Emma's Times notice to Adam might have gone something like this:

         IF the noble Gentleman responsible for the death of a Young Lady's twin brother on the Peninsula still feels any attachment to the Family that held him in esteem as a Youth, he should call upon them in the Country at once, as they are in dire straits. ~ E


So? Find any fabulous ideas lately?

I've been reminded that I forgot to add the link to "The Agony." Silly me. Here it is: http://www.archive.org/details/agonycolumnoftim00clay

Taryn Kincaid is the author of an erotic paranormal romance, Sleepy Hollow Dreams. Her debut historical, Healing Hearts, a Regency romance, will be released by Carina Press, February 28. Please come visit her blog at http://dreamvoyagers.blogspot.com/

34 comments:

Julie Rowe said...

Hi Taryn,

This is facinating! I did't know about these newpaper columns, but they're so intriguing.

I'm currently writing a triology of stories where I'm using some World War One nurse diaries as reference material (a feel for the way the language was used at the time). It's amazing what I can learn about their lives from what they DON'T say.

Very cool stuff, thanks for an enlightening post!

Cheers, Julie Rowe

Taryn Kincaid said...

You're very welcome, Julie. Thanks for stopping by! I was thinking about this as I was writing it and realized it translates to any genre, really. Just think of the classified and personal columns of today. Craig's List, even! Or Facebook for that matter.

Wendy Soliman said...

Fascinating stuff, Taryn, and, as you say, it opens up no end of possibilities. Thanks for bringing it to our attention.

Liz said...

WOW!!!!!! Love, love this post. A truly fascinating look into the mindset of the times.

David Bridger said...

A fascinating resource! Thank you, Taryn.

heatherthurmeier said...

What an incredible book, Taryn! I'm going to look into it today!

Taryn Kincaid said...

Thanks for stopping by everyone. The Agony one is definitely fascinating and a wonderful resource. Just for the language alone!

Wendy S Marcus said...

What a wonderful resource you found! Very entertaining...well...not for the people involved, but very much so for us readers!

Taryn Kincaid said...

Thanks, Wendy!

liana laverentz said...

Some read like emails of the 1800's. Thanks for sharing!

Taryn Kincaid said...

It's fun to peep into their secret private lives, isn't it?

Shoshanna Evers said...

What a treasure trove of information you've found, Taryn! Great post!

Taryn Kincaid said...

Thanks for stopping by, S!

Emily Cale said...

I had no idea something like that existed! I don't write historical, but now that I'm looking through those entries, I'm getting some interesting ideas.

Great post, Taryn.

JL Walters said...

What a great resource. Now if I was ever to write another Regency I know where to look for inspiration. Thanks.

Barbara Mountjoy said...

This is fascinating! I know I've often looked at Dear Abby to find interesting situations, but this is even more so. Thanks for sharing!

Alana Lorens
also writing as Lyndi Alexander

Leigh D'Ansey said...

This is marvellous. Thanks so much for sharing.

Taryn Kincaid said...

Thanks, Emily (great to see you here!) Thanks for stopping by, Barbara and Janet. The Agony sure is interesting, isn't it? Have to start checking out those Village Voice personals again!

Kathleen Grieve said...

Interesting! Who would've thought? Thanks for sharing!

Patricia Preston said...

Thanks for sharing this wonderful book. I've got some friends that will love this post.

Taryn Kincaid said...

Leigh & Kathleen, glad you enjoyed it! Yes, Pat, please do share!

Jenny Schwartz said...

Gorgeous resource. Thanks for sharing it, Taryn.

Patricia Preston said...

I've put it on several of my email loops and I've downloaded the PDF file.

Katherine Bone said...

What a treasure trove, Taryn! You cannot know how much I appreciate you sharing this link with us. Thanks!

I find ideas everywhere. What works for people today, minus the modern gadgets, worked for people yesterday. People are, and always will be, the same.

Taryn Kincaid said...

Thanks, Jenny. Katherine, I think you are right about that. Take away all the electronics and what-not and the same passions rule.

Eleri Stone said...

Oooh, bookmarking the link. Thank you!

Taryn Kincaid said...

I've loaded it on my Kindle!

P.L. Parker said...

That was cool!

jenniferprobst said...

You gave some great information - this was such an interesting post! I may not write historical, but you were thinking outside the box to get new ideas and that is always inspiring.

Rebecca Rogers Maher said...

This is completely awesome, and reminds me of Missed Connections on craigslist (and perhaps elsewhere)? I admit I've passed a slow morning or two reading those sad posts. Thousands of unwritten novels there!

Taryn Kincaid said...

P.L, Jen, Rebecca: Thrilled you all popped by and even happier you found something worthwhile!

Susanna Fraser said...

Taryn, these are wonderful! It's like The Stranger personal ads gone back in time. (OK, it's a lot cleaner than most of what's in The Stranger, but still.)

Taryn Kincaid said...

Susanna, I was unfamiliar with The Stranger, so of course I had to Google it! Wow. If I ever got back to writing erotica, that's the place to go! Thanks for braving tendinitis to leave a comment today!

Liz Fichera said...

Beautifully written gossip! Priceless!