I’m somewhere in Chapter Three of a draft of The New Bride of Banner’s Edge, which takes place in the Keegan family/Pearl Georgian England world, but focuses on a character who did not make the cut in Pearl, a lady who becomes Miles Keegan’s second wife.
This particular story starts in 1804, when Jane Windham’s husband dies by being thrown from his horse. Jane’s brother lives near Miles and his family, so she’s in the acquaintance circle, but because she didn’t make an appearance in Pearl, I feel like I get to create her anew and give her more dimension than the much more amateurish attempt of the Keegans that I wrote back in 2012-2013.
But it brings up a funny thing: because Pearl ended around 1801, 1802, I find myself picking up these characters in May 1804 and trying to get reacquainted with their world and their lives.
So, for example, in macro terms, in 1804, William Pitt The Younger became Prime Minister of the UK again, Napoleon is proclaimed Emperor of the French–convieniently, these two things happened in May, when the Epsom Derby occurred and Jane’s husband bumps his head and dies.
Britain is at war with France (as ever in this period) and the coastal towns are prepared for a possible French invasion.
William Wilberforce is still introducing bills in the House of Commons of the UK Parliament to ban the slave trade, as he did all through the 1790s. But there was a gap in action for abolition societies in the 1790s because of the start of the war with France, which is why in Pearl, there isn’t any action with any official Abolition or Anti-Slavery societies.
But things were changing in 1804: the Society for Effecting the Abolition of the Slave Trade began its work again and in June 1804, Wilberforce’s annual bill on abolishing slavery passed the Commons but was too late in the session to pass the Lords. Still, it was progress and to my not-total surprise, Miles Keegan is shedding some past business ties and associating with abolitionists in London.
His daughters are ten years old now. How have they grown since we last saw them in Pearl?
For that matter, what’s Pearl been doing since she found her brother Julius?