Literary Links

November/December 2002


Good News and Announcements

On-Line Class--Researching Your Novel--The Hearts Through History chapter of RWA will be sponsoring a class, Researching Your Novel with Barbara Edwards, through their online campus.  The class dates are November 21 through November 28, 2002.  Fee is $10 for HHRW members, $15 for others.  For more information, see the HTH web site at:

New Publication Available!--Michelle Jean Hoppe has completed a comprehensive research guide for writers of British historicals.  Entitled Researching the British Historical--The Victorian Era, this guide includes articles, extensive bibliographies and time lines on everything Victorian. Copies are available through Literary Liaisons for $19.95 each, plus shipping and handling. This publication will soon be available on CD for only $6.95 plus S&H.  For more information, click here!

It's a Sale!!--Congratulations to good friends and fellow chapter members, Patricia Mae White and Wendy Blythe Gifford.  Pat sold her first book to Silhouette Romance--PRACTICE MAKES MR. PERFECT will be out in July 2003.  Her second book sold weeks later to Dorchester--GOT A HOLD ON YOU, set in the world of professional wrestling, will be out in August 2003.  Blythe Gifford sold her first book to Harlequin Historicals.  A medieval romance, it is scheduled for release in late 2003 or early 2004.  Details to follow.

Upcoming Contest--The Virginia Romance Writers are hosting their Holt Medallion Contest for published writers.  Deadline for entries is December 31, 2002.  Enter your romance novel with a 2002 publication/copyright date.  For more information, visit VRW's web site at:

Favorite Book of the Year--Nominations are now being taken for RWA's Favorite Book of 2002.  If you are a member of RWA, nominate your favorite book on-line at the RWA National web site.


New On Literary Liaisons

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





Fans by James Mackay

Desert Queen by Janet Wallach

The Disastrous Mrs. Weldon: The Life, Loves and Lawsuits of a Legendary Victorian by Brian Thompson

How to Write Attention-Grabbing Query & Cover Letters by John Wood

Self-Promotion for the Creative Person by Lee Silber

Featured Title

Seven Centuries of English Cooking by Maxime de la Falaise

The Video Library

How to Dance Through Time--Volume V: Victorian Era Couple Dances


Researching the Romance


Fans by James Mackay

Desert Queen by Janet Wallach

The Disastrous Mrs. Weldon: The Life, Loves and Lawsuits of a Legendary Victorian by Brian Thompson

How to Write Attention-Grabbing Query & Cover Letters by John Wood

Self-Promotion for the Creative Person by Lee Silber



Writers' Resources Online


Electronic Books


Museum of Funeral Customs

UK Archival Repositories on the Internet

Victorian Bridal Museum


Feature Article 

Firing An Agent

by Sharon DeVita


Most authors will tell you that at one time or another they stayed with an agent long after that agent was ineffective.  Why? Because authors have a tendency to NOT want to make waves, to not want to create 'trouble', to not want to make enemies, and even more important, they fear if they fire their agent they may well never get another one.

Speaking as an author who has kept an agent on long after it was prudent, and has had to fire more agents than I care to admit, I'd like to give you some tips that might make the process a bit less painful.

First, when do you fire your agent? Well, that's a personal decision only you can answer. In my case, I've fired agents for all of the following:

  • Not being honest. How can an agent not be honest and say he sent material out on a certain date when in fact it wasn't done? Honesty is a must.

  • Not returning phone calls within a reasonable amount of time. I consider three days reasonable.  

  • Doesn't seem to care for your work. If you have an agent who has disliked three or more manuscripts of yours, you two are probably not a good fit.

  • You don't think your agent likes you, your work, or isn't enthusiastic. You know better than anyone by the way your agent treats you.

  • Not turning money around fast enough.  Find an agent who will agree to 'split' the money, that is, have the publisher send your money to you, and the agent's money to the agent.

  • Your agent has a habit of arguing with editors. Sound bizarre?  It's not.  it's happened to me.  This is MY career, my relationship with my editor with my editor is crucial and I can screw it up on my own just fine.  I really don't need to pay someone to do it for me.

Okay, so let's say you've decided it's time for a change.  How on earth do you fire an agent? Well, carefully is my best advice. Remember, everyone in this business has a very long memory. Your agent of today could be an editor at your publishing house next week. DON'T BURN YOUR BRIDGES. If you must fire your agent, you need to make sure you are within your agency agreement's rules for termination. If you have an agency agreement, read it. Some say that you can only terminate within thirty days of the annual anniversary.  Try to strike such a clause from any agreement you sign with an agency.  If you really want to terminate the contract, write the agent a letter, tell him/her that you don't feel you two are a good fit, and you think it would be better for both of you to simply terminate this agreement. Most agents will agree.  They don't want unhappy clients.

Regardless of what your specific reasons are for terminating an agent, be very careful what you put in writing. Yes, we're writers and very verbal, but I repeat, be very careful what you put in writing! Simply use a generic term/reason such as:

  • I don't think we're a good fit/match.

  • I think my career is going in a different direction than we originally discussed, therefore, I think it's best if I find other representation.

  • I need some time to reassess which way my career is going and so, at this time, I think it's best if we terminate our agreement.

Notice, NONE of these reasons say one word about the agent's actions, behavior, etc. Why? Because like I said, don't burn your bridges. You don't want someone badmouthing YOU in the industry. Agents, like editors and authors, talk, so be careful what you say. It doesn't matter what the reasons are for the termination.  YOU KNOW the real reason, and that's all that matters. The key is to terminate the contract. Once you're free, you can pursue other representation.  And please remember, do not bad-mouth your old agent to your new one! Agents talk.

Watch what you say.  Don't burn your bridges.  Be nice.

However, there is an exception to this rule. If you feel your agent has done something totally unethical and/or illegal, such as not paying you money, or withholding money you don't believe is due, you have a responsibility to yourself and your career to rectify the situation. It could be a simple math problem or a misunderstanding. You should make the agent aware of your concern, and give them a chance to explain or rectify the situation. If that doesn't work, then take the proper steps to file a complaint with RWA and with AAR. But even in this case, do NOT badmouth the agent in public. If what you're saying is NOT true, you're setting yourself up for a lawsuit. I'm not saying that you should lie to your friends about your agent.  You know who your friends are and who you can trust and confide in about an agent. Choose your confidants in this matter carefully. 

Remember, this is your career.  Choose the people you want to represent you and your work wisely.


Sharon DeVita has published more than 23 books with Harlequin and Silhouette.  She is a member of Chicago-North RWA and often speaks at local conferences.  Sharon's August 2002 release from Harlequin, I Married a Sheik, is the third book in the single-title continuity series, The Coltons.

For more of Sharon's titles, visit our Fiction Bookstore.


Editor's Note

As we approach the end of yet another year, I like to look back and evaluate the past months.  Did I accomplish what I set out to do this year with my family?  With my friends?  With my writing?  Unfortunately, this has been a year of upheaval in the family.  But good friends have stood by and been my strength.  Two very good friends among them who are celebrating their first sales this year.  I celebrate with them, and wish them the best of luck.  Is my writing where I wanted it to be?  No.  But is that necessarily a bad thing?  Not really.  My writing took a different direction this year.  Not totally unexpected, but not where I thought I'd be.  Instead of concentrating on my fiction, I self-published a research guide--Researching the British Historical: The Victorian Era.  It was a career move I needed to make at this point.  Was writing non-fiction easier than fiction, since it's not a creative form of writing?  No.  It was in some ways more difficult.  And in some ways, more rewarding.  I don't regret having gone off course from my original plan.  In my case, it worked out fine.  It's just one of the things we, as writers, must learn--adjustment.  Life is full of surprises.  We need to learn to go along with the ride, rather than miss out.  It may take you in a direction you never dreamed of. But the end result may be just as gratifying, if not more so.  You'll never know until you try.

---Michelle Hoppe

President, Literary Liaisons, Ltd.

Q&A Column

Q: Is there a publication that list the names of the wealthiest men in the UK in late 1800s-early 1900s? I have tried local libraries and book stores, to no avail.


A:  Allene-
According to The Atlas of Industrializing Britain edited by John Langton and R.J. Morris, landed property was the most significant form of 19th century wealth. 
I was able to find the following information on this web site regarding landowners:


On a wider British scale the top ten individual landowners in 1875  were as follows: 

Table III: The Top Ten British Individual Landowners 1875  

Landowner Acres Estimated Rent £ 
Duke of Sutherland   


Duke of Buccleuch   459,108 215,593 
Earl of Breadalbane  438,358 58,292
Sir Charles Ross 356,600 17,264
Earl of Seafield  305,930 78,227
Duke of Richmond  286,411 79,683
Duke of Fife  249,220 71,312
Alexander Mathieson  220,663 26,461
Duke of Atholl  201,640 42,030
Duke of Devonshire  198,493 180,795

Books that may help further:
The Decline and Fall of the British Aristocracy by David Cannadine
The Great Landowners of Great Britain and Ireland by J. Bateman

For more bibliographic data, try to find:
British Sources of Information by Paul Jackson

I hope this information helps!

Michelle Hoppe
President, Literary Liaisons, Ltd.

Historical Calendar of Events


Jan Smuts--South African soldier

Ivan Bunin--Russian poet and Nobel Prize winner

Marie Lloyd--English music-hall star

Alfred Adler--Austrian psychiatrist



Charles Dickens--English novelist

Alexandre Dumas, pere--French author

Robert E. Lee--American Confederate General

Rosa Luxemburg, German socialist leader, murdered




The Red River Rebellion ended, and Canada claimed Manitoba as a province.

Isabella of Spain abdicated the throne in favor of Alfonso XII, age 12, who succeeds in name only.  Italy's Victor Emmanuel accepts the crown and begins a brief reign as Amadeo I.

France declared war on Prussia July 13, starting the Franco-Prussian War.

The Third Republic is proclaimed in Paris after a rebellion.

Western Australia was granted representative government.

Italians entered Rome and named it their capital city.

On January 15 Thomas Nast caricatured “Boss” Tweed and his cronies, creating the donkey symbol that would identify the Democratic party for more than a century appears.

On September 19 Prussian troops began a 135-day siege of Paris.  Citizens went hungry, eating cats, dogs, and even animals from the zoo.

On March 30 Secretary of State Hamilton Fish proclaimed ratification of the Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution. The amendment forbade denial of the right to vote “on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.”

A U.S.-British convention for the suppression of the African slave trade concluded June 3.

On June 21, a Chinese mob at Tianjin attacked a Roman Catholic orphanage, killing 24 foreigners, including the French consul and some French and Belgian nuns accused of kidnapping children. 

Women gained full suffrage in the Territory of Utah.

Irish lawyer Isaac Butt formed the Home Rule Association, a coalition of Protestants and nationalists working for repeal of the 1801 Act of Union.

The first black U.S. legislators, Hiram Rhoades Revels of Mississippi and J. Hayne Rainey of South Carolina, took their seats at Washington, D.C., in the Senate and House of Representatives, respectively.


The Arts


"La Perle" by J.P.C. Corot


"Civilization," an essay by Ralph Waldo Emerson

The History of England from the Fall of Wolsey to the Defeat of the Spanish Armada by J.A. Froude.

Dictionary of American Biography issued for the first time.

Theory of Biogenesis by T. H. Huxley.


An Old-Fashioned Girl by Louisa May Alcott

The Earthly Paradise by William Morris

The Hunting of the Snark by Lewis Carroll

The Mystery of Adwin Drood by Charles Dickens

The Precipice by Ivan Goncharov

Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne

The House of Life by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

The Stage:

"Coppelia" a ballet by Delibes, premiered in Paris May 25.


"Die Walkure" by Richard Wagner, premiered in Munich June 26.


Romeo and Juliet Overture by Peter Tchaikovsky

Sigfried Idyll by Richard Wagner premiered December 25 at Lake Lucerne.



Daily Life

The Belfast Telegraph began publication in Ireland.

The British Post Office issued the world’s first postcards October 1.

Britain instituted compulsory education.

Only Sixty-seven percent of American children between 5 and 17 were students, and only two Americans in 100 of 17 years and older have graduated high school. 

Keble College, Oxford, founded.

St. Johns University founded in Brooklyn, New York.

Syracuse University founded at Syracuse, New York.

Ohio State Universtiy founded at Columbus, Ohio.

The University of Cincinnati founded in Cincinnati, Ohio.

The University of Akron founded in Akron, Ohio.

Chicago's Loyola University began as St. Ignatius College by the Jesuits.

Texas Christian University founded at Fort Worth, Texas.

The Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute chartered in Virginia.

Women enter the University of Michigan for the first time since its founding at Ann Arbor in 1817. 

The Societe Nationale de Musique was founded in France.

The Boston Museum of Fine Arts was chartered in February.

New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art was chartered April 13, and would open in 1872 at 681 Fifth Avenue, then move to a mansion on 14th Street in 1873.

Washington’s Corcoran Gallery of Art was incorporated May 14, and would open in 1874 on Pennsylvania Avenue.

The British Red Cross founded in London.

The Gloucester Cricket Club was founded by W. G. Grace and his brothers.

The First Vatican Council promulgated the dogma of papal infallibility.

Richard Wagner married Cosima von Bulow, daughter of Franz Liszt.

John D. Rockefeller founded the Standard Oil Company January 10.

The U.S. corn crop topped 1 million bushels for the first time.

The U.S. cotton crop was 4.03 million bales, up from 3.48 million in 1860.

The New York Cotton Exchange founded by 100 firms.

California wheat growers produced 16 million bushels.  The $20 million they received was twice the value of all the gold mined in California for the year.

The Chinese plum, domesticated in Japan, was introduced into California where it would become the basis of the modern plum industry.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture imported 300 apple varieties from Russia. Among them were the Duchess, Red Astrachan, and Yellow Transparent. 

The McIntosh apple was propagated from a seedling found by Ontario nurseryman Allan McIntosh on his Matilda Township homestead.  It would become the dominant variety in New England and eastern New York.

The Elberta peach was introduced by orchardman Samuel Rumph of Marshalville, Georgia,  who developed the variety and named it after his wife.

Cattle drives up the Chisholm Trail from San Antonio, Texas, to Abilene, Kansas, began on a huge scale. The overland treks would bring an estimated 10 million head up the trail in the next 20 years. Texas cattle ranchers received $20 at Abilene for a steer worth $11 in Texas and that sells at Chicago for $31.50.

Some 4 million buffalo roamed the American plains south of the Platte River by some estimates. However, they would be virtually wiped out in the next 4 years.

Lloyd’s of London was incorporated 182 years after its founding but remains a society of private individuals.

New York’s F. A. O. Schwarz toy shop opens on Broadway at 9th Street. It would relocate to West 23rd Street, netting nearly $100,000 per year by 1900.

Kansas City’s population reached 32,260, up from 3,500 in 1865.

Chicago’s population reached 300,000, up from 93,000 in 1857. 

The first English bid to regain the America’s Cup ended in failure.




Heinrich Schliemann began excavating Troy.

Adolf Nordenskjold explored Greenland's interior.

A rotary press built by Richard Hoe prints both sides of a page in a single operation.

Production of paper from pulpwood began in New England.

Italian toxicologist Francesco Selmi coined the word “ptomaine” to denote certain nitrogenous compounds easily detectible by smell and in some cases poisonous.  

New York City got its first luxury apartment house. Rutherford Stuyvesant built the apartments in East 18th Street from designs by Richard Morris Hunt. Rents for six rooms with bath ranged from $1,000 to $1,500 per year. 

French citizens subscribed 40 million francs to build the Church of Sacré Coeur on Montmartre in Paris. 

Sandringham House was completed in Norfolk for Queen Victoria after 9 years of construction.

Henry Clay Frick began construction and operation of coke ovens in the Connellsville area. 

Mott’s Cider and Mott’s Vinegar voyage rounded Cape Horn by clipper ship in 1,000-case lots. 

Banana traffic from the Caribbean to North American ports is pioneered by Wellfleet, Massachusetts fishing captain Lorenzo Dow Baker.

Smith Brothers Cough Drops were patented by William “Trade” and Andrew “Mark” whose bearded faces served as a trademark.  

European flour millers developed porcelain rollers, creating a whiter flour.  

Cincinnati’s Gaff, Fleischmann and Co. marketed compressed yeast wrapped in tinfoil that would permit shipment anywhere.

Canadian distiller Joseph Emm Seagram joined a 19-year-old firm of Waterloo, Ontario, millers and distillers that he would own by 1883. 

The U.S. canning industry put up 30 million cans, up from 5 million in 1860, despite the fact that it employed 600 people.  

A can opener patented by U.S. inventor William W. Lyman was the first with a cutting wheel that rolled round a can’s rim.

The first U.S. food trademark registered by the U.S. Patent Office was a red devil, granted to Boston’s William Underwood & Co. for “deviled entremets.”

The Principles of Chemistry by Russian chemistry professor Dmitri Ivanovich Mendeléev, contained the periodic table of elements that arranged the 63 known elements according to atomic weight. 

DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) was discovered by chemistry student Friederich Miescher at Tübingen, but is not yet suspected of being basic genetic material.

The first through railway cars from the Pacific Coast reached New York City on July 24. 

Construction of the Northern Pacific Railroad began in Minnesota. 

London’s St. Pancras Station opened with a clock from the 1851 Great Exhibition.  

French railroad trackage increased to 11,000 miles, up from 5,918 in 1860.

French lawyer Leon Gambetta pioneered air travel, escaping from the besieged city of Paris by balloon on October 8. 

Coventry machinists James Kemp Starley and William Hillman patented the first lightweight all-metal bicycle. They would market their Ariel cycle in September of 1871 at £8 (£12 with speed-gear). 

Steamships accounted for 16 percent of world shipping but are often slower than clipper ships.  


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