There’s nothing in this world that hasn’t been done before, especially when it comes to writing Regency romance. Well, that’s how it seems when I’m trying to dream up a plot for a new book. Constructing an original storyline takes time and patience. I have plenty of the former – litter of the latter. (I blame my parents, but don’t let my mum know I said so!).
Still, I think I might be on to something. How did inquisitive souls receive their news during the Regency era? Newspapers, obviously, but I knew little about their origins and had scant knowledge of the titles that were popular at the time. A little research was called for.
I discovered that the London Times, still going strong today, started life in 1785 as the Daily Universal Register. John Waters, its founder, had been a Lloyd’s underwriter who suffered severe losses due to a hurricane in Jamaica. With what money he had left, he bought the rights to a typesetting process and started an advertising sheet that included small items of news to promote it, little knowing what he’d set in motion! After several years he was unable to sell his typesetting process but was making money on the paper.
Anyway, my point is that the Universal Register became The Times in 1788 and Waters included items of gossip in an effort to make the paper more popular. My ears pricked up when I read that snippet. Who supplied the gossip and what lengths were they prepared to go to in order to procure it? What if—a question that novelists ask themselves all the time—a young lady in straightened circumstances and with responsibility for the welfare of the rest of her family, had a talent for sniffing out scandal? The dangerous type than wasn’t to be found in fashionable ballrooms? Presumably women weren’t encouraged to undertake such work, so she’d have to disguise herself as a lad. I can already imagine her getting into all sorts of inappropriate situations, from which a hunky hero will have to rescue her. Needless to say, she won’t welcome his intervention.
Hmm, I can see I’ve got a bit more work to do on this plot. Still, some of my books have blossomed from less auspicious starts so I’m not feeling too downhearted. The one thing I can’t do is start until I’ve thought of an appropriate title.
The Pen is mightier than the Petticoat? Maybe not.
How about, The Renegade Reporter? No, that doesn’t quite work either.