Literary Links

January/February 2004


Good News and Announcements

Debut Novel Is Available!--It's finally here!  Blythe Gifford's debut romance is now available from Harlequin Historicals.  The Knave and the Maiden, a Golden Heart finalist (under the title The Pilgrim and the Palmer,) is a medieval romance.  Follow Dominica and Garren on their pilgrimage of faith and love.  For more information, check out Blythe's web site at:

Chicago-North Fire & Ice Contest--Chicago-North RWA is sponsoring their 6th annual Fire & Ice Contest.  Enter your first chapter in one of three categories--Single Title Contemporary, Series Contemporary, or Historical.  Top prize in each category is $50.  Acquiring editors will read finalist entries.  For more information, visit the Chicago-North web site.

Victorian Research Guide--This 252-page guide, Researching the British Historical--The Victorian Era, is now available either in print format or CD-Rom.  For more information, click here


New On Literary Liaisons

There are many new additions to Literary Liaisons. After reading about them below, check them out on the web site.





Courtesans: Money, Sex and Fame in the Nineteenth Century by Katie Hickman

The Dialects of England by Peter Trudgill

Dinner at Buckingham Palace edited by Paul Fishman

Finding Your Voice by Leslie Edgerton

Historic Pubs of London by Ted Bruning

How to Hold a Crocodile by The Diagram Group

Featured Title

The Dialects of England by Peter Trudgill



The Video Library


Daniel Deronda



Researching the Romance


Courtesans: Money, Sex and Fame in the Nineteenth Century by Katie Hickman

The Dialects of England by Peter Trudgill

Dinner at Buckingham Palace edited by Paul Fishman

Finding Your Voice by Leslie Edgerton

Historic Pubs of London by Ted Bruning

How to Hold a Crocodile by The Diagram Group



Writers' Resources Online


Ask Oxford

Elizabeth I

The Food Timeline 

The Glossarist

Smithsonian Institution Encyclopedia--American Social and Cultural History

Victorian Mourning Customs


Feature Article 

How To Write It When You Can't Be There

by Blythe Gifford


We’ve all heard the advice:  You must visit the places you write about.  Theoretically, I agree with that, but from a practical point of view, I’m not in the position to fly abroad every time I start a book.  And since I write history, a trip to the place would still not be a trip to the time.  I would still have to create a world I’ve never seen.

How do you do that with an eye to authenticity?  I have a few tips.

First, choose your setting mindfully.  A familiar location will make it easier to gather information.  An obscure one may make it difficult to find enough detail to bring it to life.

The flip side of using a well known location is that it’s tough to fudge facts.  Any mistake will surely be found by an expert reader.

Be aware of the connotation of the setting you select and decide whether to play to it or against it.  Some locations, New Orleans, for example, are so strong that using them is almost like adding a character to your story.

When I say “setting,” I mean time as well as place.  For example, I have a manuscript set in Philadelphia.  Originally, the date was 1872, but I changed it to 1876.  Why?  Because the Centennial Exposition was in Philadelphia in 1876.  Even though my book did not revolve around the exposition, it meant I could find everything from train schedules to photographs to first person accounts of the city in that year.

Next, ground yourself and your characters.  Gather a detailed map, a calendar, and a guidebook or two.  Even if you create an imaginary town, know which direction the sun rises and sets.  Know the time and date and day of each scene.  This will help keep you, and your characters, in a real world, one in which Sunday comes every week, the seasons follow their course, and you can trace how long it will take to walk from one end of town to the other.

Again, as historical writers, this is harder than it sounds.  A current map has roads and buildings that did not exist when your story is set.  Even rivers have changed course over time.  Search used book fairs for older guidebooks and travel books.  Often, they include maps, detailed descriptions, photos, and first person narratives.

Third, a picture is worth a thousand words.  Along with my calendar, guidebook, and map, I always buy a good picture book or two.  One will be of the physical landscape.  That way, I am not dependent on another writer’s words.  I can look at the picture as my hero or heroine would and let them describe the scene.

Authentic images, photographs, engravings, or paintings, will give you detail no guidebook or official history will include.  In THE KNAVE AND THE MAIDEN, I had a scene set in the Cathedral at Exeter.  When the Cathedral’s official website gave me a virtual tour, I discovered that the Cathedral was under construction at the time of my story.  With that fact, I created a vivid, unique setting that supported the emotional theme of the scene.

The Internet is a gold mine for images.  With a search engine, you can find everything from professional photography of historic buildings in all seasons to engravings of street scenes.  In addition, many vacationers now post photos and travelogs.  Not only are those a source of pictures, they can provide first person descriptions of how hot it can be on the Thames in August.

Finally, the devil is in the details.  Instead of descriptions of panoramic views, select one small sensory detail, preferably a sound or a scent.  (There’s nothing wrong with a visual detail, but using the other senses brings it closer to the character.)  Then, make sure it has emotional resonance for your character.  No matter how good your research, it exists only to make your characters move easily in their world.  It should be inserted only when the character recognizes and reacts to it for a reason directly related to the storyline.

With these techniques, you can build a world that’s real to your characters and to your readers, even without getting on an airplane---or in a time machine.  


Blythe Gifford’s debut novel, THE KNAVE AND THE MAIDEN, is a Harlequin Historicals January 2004 release.  According to, “she captures the history without bogging the reader down in trivial details.”


            To learn more about Blythe and her upcoming releases, visit her web site at:

            To buy Blythe's book from, click here!

For more sources on Romance Writing, see our Researching the Romance page.

Editor's Note

A new year, and new beginnings.  This is especially true of a good friend of mine, Blythe Gifford.  She begins this new year with the release of her very first romance novel, The Knave and the Maiden.  A past Golden Heart finalist (under the title, The Pilgrim and the Palmer), Blythe's book has been called 'pure poetry' and 'sweetly passionate' by reviewers.  Pick up this book, a January 2004 Harlequin Historical, today.  You won't be disappointed.  Plans are also on the horizon for new ideas at Literary Liaisons.  So stay tuned to see what changes are in store.  It's a new year, so begin a new life.  Be daring, be creative.  And be yourself.

--Michelle Hoppe

President, Literary Liaisons, Ltd.

Q&A Column

Q:  My mom passed away 6 years ago January 21. On the date of her death, my dad puts a picture of her and a memorium poem in two local newspapers. He also puts flowers in the front of the church we attend. I am wondering if there is a certain length of time one does this? Is it a personal choice? When do others expect you to "let go" as it were? Do you do this for a certain number of years and then every 5th anniversary or so? Any information you can give me would be greatly appreciated. 
Thanks so much. 

Sharon W.

A:   First of all, my sympathy on the loss of your mother. It is always a difficult time. Reading your e-mail, it warmed me to see your father's display of affection. I understand your concerns, however. Let me begin by reassuring you that there doesn't seem to be anything to be concerned about here. The entire loss/grieving/mourning period is very individual. As is remembering a loved one. No one can place a time limit on the grief process. We all heal differently. And a great way to work through grief is to create a lasting memorial for a loved one. Memories last forever. No one can take that away from us.
As long as your father's actions do not disrupt his daily life or his ability to carry on basic functions, the memorium he displays is not only harmless, but quite touching. Family and loved ones often want the deceased remembered not only by those left behind, but by future generations. And your father is doing just that--giving everyone something to remember your mother by. 
So in answer to your question, no, there is no set time for such a custom as there were in Victorian times. It is very individual. 

Michelle Hoppe
President, Literary Liaisons

Historical Calendar of Events


F.W. Aston--English physicist

Charles Barkla--English physicist

Harley Granville-Barker--English theatrical producer

Andre Maginot--French statesman and politician

Raoul Dufy--French painter



Gustave Courbet, French painter

Cornelius Vanderbilt



Queen Victoria proclaimed Empress of India.

Britain’s remaining restrictions on freedom of the press ended with the court trial at London of Charles Bradlaugh and Annie Wood Besant, who have republished works advocating contraception.

March 12--Britain annexed Walfish (Walvis) Bay on the coast of Southwest Africa.

April 12--Britain annexed the South African Republic, in violation of the 1852 Sand River Convention that recognized the independence of the Transvaal, beginning a new Kaffir War.

November 23--The Halifax Fisheries Commission awarded Britain $4.5 million for U.S. fishing rights in the North Atlantic .

Rutherford B. Hayes inaugurated as 19th U.S. President.

Congress established a U.S. Entomological Commission to control the grasshoppers devastating western farms and rangelands.

The first low-rent U.S. housing “project” opened at Brooklyn, N.Y., where businessman Alfred Tredway White financed construction of cottages for workingmen at Hicks Street and Baltic, each 11.5 feet wide with six rooms. They will rent for  $14 per month.

New York State outlawed the representation of margarine as “butter.”

A San Francisco mob burned down 25 Chinatown wash houses in July and anti-Chinese riots ensued. The Chinese received little or no police protection, giving rise to the phrase “not a Chinaman’s chance”

Nez Perce tribespeople in the Northwest were ordered to leave or be removed forcibly after years of passive noncompliance with the treaty they signed in 1863.

Gen. James Carleton orders Apache in Arizona Territory out of the Chiricahua reservation at Warm Springs in November, telling them to move to San Carlos where temperatures in summer reach as high as 140° F.

May 15 -- Swiss Emancipation Law enacted which gave Jews full citizenship.

Russia declared war on Turkey. 

Japan’s samurai warrior class rebelled against the “evil counselors” of the Meiji emperor who denied the samurai their pensions and forbade them to wear two swords.  


The Arts

"The Cotton Pickers" by Winslow Homer

"Nana" by Edouard Manet

"Lever de Lune" by Charles Francois Daubigny


Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

The Pillars of Society by Henrik Ibsen

The American by Henry James

L'Assommoir by Emile Zola

Black Beauty by Anna Sewell


"Treatise of Spiritualism" by J.C.F. Zollner

"Treatise on Sound" by Lord Rayleigh


Symphony No. 2 Op. 75 by Brahms

"Francesca da Rimini", a symphonic poem by Tchaikovsky


"Swan Lake" by Tchaikovsky Marc4 at Moscow's Bolshoi Theater


"The Sorcerer" at London's Opera Comique November 17

"Samson et Delila" by Camille Saint-Saens December 2 at Weimer's Grand Ducal Palace

Popular Songs: 

"In the Gloaming" by Annie Harrison



Daily Life

All-England Lawn Tennis championship first played at Wimbledon, London.  Spencer Grove was the champion.

The American Museum of Natural History opened in New York.

The third Impressionist exhibition held in Paris.

Publication of complete works of Mozart began.  The project would last until 1904.

The Farm Journal began publication in Philadelphia in March.

The Washington Post began publication December 6, selling for 3 cents/copy.

The first university press was founded at Baltimore’s Johns Hopkins University where the American Journal of Mathematics began publication.  

Tokyo University founded in Japan.

Education for Italian children from age 6 to 9 became mandatory.

Chicago’s Mandel Brothers opened on State Street by Leon, Emanuel, Simon, and Solomon Mandel.

The Westminster Kennel Club dog show was held for the first time in May at New York’s 3-year-old Gilmore’s Garden.

The Japanese Red Cross  founded at Tokyo.

The cakewalk was introduced into U.S. minstrel shows by the New York team Harrigan and Hart.

The Boston Public Library moved into a new Romanesque building on Copley Square.

John D. Rockefeller, Standard Oil of Ohio president, signed a contract with the Pennsylvania Railroad, strengthening his oil-rail monopoly.

The New York Central, Erie, Pennsylvania, and Baltimore & Ohio called off a long-standing rate war in April and announced a 10 percent wage cut.

The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe reduced wages 5 percent August 1 and slashed conductors’ salaries from a top of $120 per month to $75.

The Quaker Mill Co. began operations at Ravenna, Ohio, making oatmeal with a process patented by William Heston.

Distillers Company, Ltd. was created by a consolidation of six Scottish distilleries which began a great whiskey cartel.

Singer Manufacturing Co. cut sewing machine prices in half as the U.S. economic depression continues. 

Swan Boats designed by Robert Paget appear on the pond of Boston’s 18-year-old Public Garden.

Famine hit Bengal, killing 4 million.

The Patent Protection Law was enacted in Germany.

"Blue Cross", a society to fight alcoholism, founded by Swiss Louis Lucien Rocet.

Rijkssmuseum built in Amsterdam.




The first public telephones went into use in the U.S.

The Bell Telephone Association was organized with headquarters at New York.

The first telephone switchboard was installed May 17 in the Boston office of Edwin T. Holmes, of the Holmes Burglar Alarm Service.

The first telephone exchange was organized at Lowell, Massachusetts, by local entrepreneur Charles Jasper Glidden.

German-American inventor Emile Berliner developed a loose-contact telephone transmitter.

Edison invented the phonograph.

Frozen meat shipped from Argentina to Europe for the first time.

Cailletet and Pictet independently liquefied oxygen.

Italian astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli observed canals on Mars.

Robert Koch developed a technique for staining and identifying bacteria.

English researchers A. Downes and T. P. Blunt discovered the germicidal qualities of ultraviolet rays.

German surgeon-urologist Max Nitze constructed the cystoscope for examining the inside of the urinary bladder.

James Paget described the chronic bone disease osteitis deformans that would be called Paget’s disease.

Callao, Lima & Oroya Railroad builder Henry Meiggs died at Lima, Peru, September 29, leaving the world’s highest railroad incomplete.

The first U.S. cantilever bridge was completed across the Kentucky River near Harrodsburg.

Boston entrepreneur Albert Pope converted his Hartford, Connecticut, air-pistol factory into the first U.S. bicycle factory.

German botanist Wilhelm Pfeffer discovered osmosis.

Granula was introduced at Battle Creek, Mich., by James Harvey Kellogg.

Brick cheese invented by Wisconsin cheese maker John Jossi.

The first shipment of Chicago-dressed beef to reach Boston arrived in a railcar designed to prevent spoilage by Chicago meat packer Gustavus Franklin Swift.

Swedish engineer Carl Gustaf Patrick de Laval invented a centrifugal cream separator.

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