Introducing the Ponsonby-Courtneys

I originally started this story as a few play scenes–don’t remember when–probably not long after I saw The Heiress on Broadway. I put it away after three or four scenes, because it was time for another revision on the WIP. 

Between The HeiressDownton Abbey, and The Buccaneers, I’ve been inspired to write a story that takes place in the 1890s. It’s historical fiction again, but it’s women’s historical fiction, maybe even New Adult historical fiction, if such a thing exists. The story only has one POV so far and that POV is Victoria Elizabeth Matilda Ponsonby-Courtney.

As you may have guessed from that list of inspirations, this story has: an English country manor (yes, again), but this time it’s falling apart. I think the Ponsonby-Courtneys live in a house that looks like this:

In real life: Belton House, Lincolnshire, England

Within that country house are the Earl of Malden, his wife the Countess, several servants, and the children: Conrad, the heir; his sister Beatrice, about 15 or 16 and really into Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock stories; and Conrad and Beatrice’s cousin, Victoria, 19 or 20, who has been raised with the family. Victoria is basically penniless. She isn’t too worried about catching a husband, though, because she and Conrad have a secret agreement to marry.

Until the summer of 1893, when Conrad brings home an annoying American heiress named Ethel  Or maybe Ursula Houghton, who is followed on this visit by her pushy mother and her handsome brother, Simon. 
Here are a few lines from those couple of scenes I wrote: 
Lady Malden: Thank you, Miss Ethel. Yes, it is quite an old house–the first building on the site was built in 1310. The Ponsonby-Courtneys have lived here since 1440.

Victoria: (bored) And then we lost it in 1473. Good heavens, Aunt, I don’t think Miss Ethel is terribly interested in our many marriages and our many losses and gains. Then again, maybe you are. Losses and gains are very Wall Street, aren’t they, Miss Ethel?
Mrs. Houghton: The tour was enlightening, don’t you think?
Ethel: Oh, yes. The gutters are blocked, the third floor is derelict, and the roof leaks.
Conrad: I like Miss Ethel very much.
Victoria: Good.
Conrad: I want to marry her.
Victoria: Good.
Conrad: Vicky, it’s not because I don’t–
Victoria: You don’t have to explain, Conrad. I well know the situation. We’ve no claims on each other, beyond blood.
Conrad: And a few kisses. But once I take a wife and we have sons to carry on, I may take a mistress.
Victoria: Expected, but still deplorable. You’ve not even proposed to her!
I don’t have an entire plot worked out yet, but I am diving into research. Here are some images that pertain or are inspiring this story.
Actress Ethel Barrymore, 1896. 
Prince George, his wife Princess May and grandmother Queen Victoria in 1893

Train crash, October 1895, in Paris
Lillie Langtry, actress. Mistress to Prince Edward.

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