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When Queen Elizabeth II gave royal assent to the 2013 Succession to the Crown Act it meant that both sons and daughters would have an equal right to inherit the royal crown. Until then daughters could inherit only if the monarch had no sons. This was a big royal step to equality, but what of the non-royal titles?

Our basic knowledge of history (from school, private study, or extensive reading of historical novels) has gotten ourselves used to the idea that titles and/or property are always inherited by the oldest male heir; if not the oldest living son, then the oldest, closest male heir. We think of Mr. Collins in Pride and Prejudice, for example.

This might have been the most common type of aristocratic inheritance in the UK, but it was not the only one. There were titles and property that women could inherit, even as far back as the 1300s.

It all depended upon how the title was created. (Isobel explained it very well in her blog post, A Duchess in Her Own Right). Peerages that daughters could inherit were more typically Scottish, but there were English ones as well. Most of these titles were baronesses, but there were also viscountesses, marchionesses, and countesses. There were even Duchesses. The 1st Duke of Marlborough’s title passed to his daughter.

Henrietta Godolphin, 2nd Duchess of Marlborough

Peeresses who inherited titles in their own right could not sit in the House of Lords, though. That did not change until 1948.

The monarch could also create peeresses in their own right. George IV created three: Joan Canning, 1st Viscountess Canning; Catherine Fitzgerald, 1st Baroness FitzGerald and Vesey; Charlotte Strutt, 1st Baroness Rayleigh. The King or Queen could also create life peerages which ended upon the death of the title holder.

In my latest book, The Lady Behind the Masquerade, Kitty inherited the title Baroness Walsingham, because the villain, Turstin, had faked his own death and the title fell to her, having been written that way at the time of the title’s creation which could have been in the 1300s. It was unusual, but it could happen. Can you think of other Regencies or Historicals where the woman bore a title in her own right?

Would you like to win a copy of The Lady Behind the Masquerade? I’ll be giving away both The Lady Behind the Masquerade and Secretly Bound to the Marquess in Isn’t It Romantic Book Club’s Fall into a Book September 22 and 23. Join Isn’t It Romantic Book Club on Facebook and fall into 300 books!

Is summer heat making you yearn for the cold temps of winter? Or are you one of those folks who finds the long stretch of summer without a major holiday too unbearably boring? These are two of the reasons people give for celebrating “Christmas in July” –at least, if you’re in the northern hemisphere and/or once the 4th of July is over if you’re American! Years ago I knew a family who held a Christmas-in-July party without fail every year. They would break out all the lights and decorations, do a random gift exchange, the whole bit. It was fun!
Of course, there is also the commercial push, an excuse to hold sales when there’s no other real reason. From the Hallmark Channel to Best Buy ads, it’s hard to escape!

But I’ve always found the concept a bit curious. (Learn more below.) So why am I talking about it now?
Do you like to read Christmas stories outside of the holiday season? I enlisted my #2-in-series book, Lord of Misrule, in two separate “Christmas in July” book promotions running this month (kind of accidentally, but it seemed like a good idea at the time)!

The first promo is just for historical Christmas stories, which may suit your interest if you follow this blog. Find it here: I would appreciate any and all clicks because it shows I am sharing this! You might discover a new-to-you author. They aren’t all Regencies, so if you specialize you might need to sift through them a bit, depending on your taste. Be warned, they are all different heat levels, too. There are 75 books in all, which goes to show how popular this sub-sub-genre is!!

The second promo, at N.N. Light’s site, includes a chance to enter a drawing for a $75 Amazon US or Canada gift card (you must have a US or Canadian Amazon account), in addition to highlighting a large bunch of Christmas set stories. These are a mix of all genres, however, so if you’re only looking for historical settings, you’ll need to sift through more. I saw a number of familiar names in there, so it’s worth looking.
If you haven’t read Lord of Misrule, the story is being featured today (July 12) at the promotion webpage: . Find out what I love best about the holiday season, and why I think this book captures the spirit of Christmas in its pages!

Where did “Christmas in July” first come from? I looked it up because I can never resist a good rabbit hole. It’s certainly not a Regency thing –Christmas then wasn’t the Big Thing we have made of it in modern times. And the playful concept didn’t seem to fit with the staid Victorians, even though they revived or glorified a lot of the other Christmas traditions we think of as old!
The phrase is first noted in an 1892 French opera named Werther, translated into English in 1894. A group of children rehearsing a Christmas carol in the story are told they’re “rushing the season” when they sing “Christmas in July”, but that was not the beginning of it as an event. That honor goes to a North Carolina girls’ summer camp, Keystone Camp in Brevard. In July of 1933 the director of the camp, Fannie Holt, thought up the idea of a Christmas party with singing carols, gift exchanges and all the trimmings, and it became an annual tradition there.
Then in 1940, the movie “Christmas in July” starring Dick Powell and Ellen Drew came out, popularizing the phrase across the US. During the 40’s, some prominent US churches adopted the concept to spread charity ahead of the season, and the US Post Office and military services adoptted it to promote early mailing to those in service overseas during WWII. And from the US, the idea spread internationally.
Have you ever celebrated Christmas in July? Are you a fan of the idea, or does the commercialization of it in current times turn you off? Does reading a Christmas book in mid-summer help you cool off as you think about a snowy setting or the love and wonder that come with the season? I’m sure you agree with me in wishing we could keep that sense of magic all year round.

 I am thrilled to announce that I have a new release coming this month! The Lady Behind the Masquerade will be released in paperback and ebook on July 25.


Here’s the backcover blurb:


The ton’s newest member
Is not all she seems…

Diplomat Marcus Wolfdon can’t forget the alluring woman he met in Paris, the passionate night they shared or that she stole his money and disappeared! A year later, Wolf meets Juliana again in Brighton, seemingly a member of the ton. She begs him to keep their former liaison secret, and the emotion in her eyes compels him to agree. Desire still flares between them, but first Wolf must uncover the lady behind the masquerade.

From Harlequin Historical: Your romantic escape to the past.


The Lady Behind the Masquerade is Book 2 in A Family of Scandals series. Marcus Wolfdon, “Wolf” to his friends and family, is the younger brother of Eliza, now the Marquess of Hale, and heir to their father’s baronetcy. Rather than deal with his parents’ drama, Wolf has dedicated himself to a diplomatic career, lately in Paris, where he has his unforgettable encounter with Juliana. His father’s near-fatal illness brings him back to England where he must face his family obligations–and Juliana, who now is not an alluring French woman, but a lovely lady, cousin to Wolf’s friend’s mother. Never sure precisely what Juliana’s truth is, he cannot resist both loving her and protecting her but never trusting her.

Be on the lookout for the reviews and read and excerpt.

And you can preorder now!

Like millions of others around the world I was riveted to my TV on May 6 watching every moment of the coronation of King Charles III. And like any Regency aficionado, I could not help comparing it to the coronation of George IV.
With the death of his father, George III, on January 29, 1820, the Prince Regent for whom “our” era is named, became King George IV. King Charles’s coronation took place seven months after he acceded to the throne. George IV’s coronation, however, did not take place until July 19, 1821. It was originally scheduled for August 1820, comparable to Charles III, but it was postponed until the parliamentary proceedings aimed at divorcing his wife, Queen Caroline, and depriving her of her titles, could be completed. The bill to accomplish this was abandoned by November 1820 so no divorce, no stripping of titles. Instead she was simply written out of the coronation ceremonies.

Undaunted, though, on Coronation Day, Caroline attempted to enter Westminster Abbey anyway, but literally had the door (several doors) slammed in her face. She always had a great deal of support from the people, but lost much of it after this display.

Contrast this with the coronation of Charles III and Camilla. Charles deeply wanted Camilla to be his queen and, before her death his mother, Queen Elizabeth gave her approval. Camilla was crowned Queen Consort at the coronation ceremony at Westminster Abbey.

In 1821 George IV wanted his coronation to outdo Napoleon’s. Always flamboyant, his coronation outfit cost more than £27,000, and he insisted participants dress in Tudor and Stuart period dress. His red velvet robe had a train 27 feet long. Charles III, on the other hand, chose to wear previously worn garments. For the investiture, King Charles III wore the Robe Royal part of George IV’s coronation robes.

Charles and Camilla wore crowns that were already in the Royal collection. George IV, of course, commissioned a new crown. His coronation crown contained jewels that were worth almost £25,000 in that time period. The jewels were merely on loan for the crown and Parliament declined to purchase the crown as George IV wished. The crown was dismantled in 1823. Devoid of its jewels it is now part of the Royal Collection on view in the Tower of London.

Then there was the Coronation Banquet. George IV’s banquet was held in Westminster Hall. The hall was lit by 2,000 melting candles and the guests were occasionally pelted with hot wax falling from the chandeliers. The crowd was so huge that the dinner had to be supervised by horseback. Twenty-three makeshift kitchens had to be built to produce the food. Afterwards the spectators from the galleries were allowed down on the hall floor and proceeded to help themselves to everything–the leftover food, the cutlery, the crystal, silver platters. The gold coronation plates were saved by Lord Gwydyr and armed soldiers prevented the kitchens from being ransacked.

In contrast, Charles III had a private family luncheon after the coronation and later a coronation concert.

I must say, had I lived in the Regency, I would have wanted to be one of those spectators in the gallery. I would have wanted to see every minute of all that pomp, drama, and extravagance.

Would you?

Did you know the first “photograph” was made during the late “extended” Regency period? Its inventor, Joseph Nicéphore Niépce, is the second of my “real Regency heroes” to hail from France rather than England. My justification is that scientists who studied and experimented with technological advances at this time worked and shared on both sides of the channel.


Niépce developed other innovations as well, but according to correspondence with his brother, he captured the first permanent live camera image in 1824. This first effort was lost in further experimentation. But in 1826, Niépce created the same image again—a view out of the window from his studio—and this image still survives today, the world’s first (if rather indistinct) photograph. 


Buckle in for a story that shows how luck and timing and good PR, or the lack of them, make a huge difference in scientific success.

Born in 1765, Niépce was the second son of a wealthy lawyer. He and his older brother Claude excelled in studying science and after graduating Niépce became a professor at the Catholic Oratory college where he studied in Angers. The order’s colleges were shut down in 1792 by the Legislative Assembly of France’s New Republic, and some teachers became active supporters of the revolution. Niépce briefly joined the army under Napoleon and served as a staff officer in Italy and Sardinia until ill-health forced him to resign and accept a position as the Administrator of the district of Nice. He also married at this time.

 In 1795 at the age of 30, Niépce left that position in order to pursue his scientific interests, partnered with his brother Claude. They researched ideas for an internal combustion engine, living in Nice until they returned to their family estate in Chalon in 1801. Reunited with other family members, they lived there as gentlemen farmers while exploring a variety of scientific interests. In 1806 they presented a paper to the Institute National de Science, the French National Commission of the Academy of Science, which explained the workings of their engine, which they called a Pyréolophore.

A color cut-away diagram showing the internal combustion engine invented by Niepce and his brother.

Diagram of the first internal combustion engine, the Pyreolophore, of 1806. (public domain)

In 1807 they built a working version of their engine and demonstrated its success by powering a boat up the River Saone. They received a ten-year patent from Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte.

Unfortunately, in the same year Swiss engineer François Isaac de Rivaz also built an internal combustion engine. The de Rivaz engine was hydrogen-powered, whereas the Niépce engine ran on various experimental fuels such as mixtures of Lycopodium powder (the spores of clubmoss) and coal dust, or resin, all of which proved expensive.

France under Napoleon was at war for nearly all of the years of the Niépce patent. During those years, the brothers also developed a hydraulic pumping machine (but too late to obtain the government contract they aimed for) and the first fuel injection engine. But they were not able to attract sufficient investments or subsidies for their Pyreolophore, so their engine patent expired in 1817.

Unwilling to release the project, brother Claude traveled to England and settled at Kew. He obtained a patent consent from the British Crown in December of 1817, but for the next ten years he pursued many ill-advised and unsound schemes to promote the engine. He was said to have “developed delirium” (probably some form of dementia) and squandered most of the family fortune.

Meanwhile, Joseph Nicéphore Niépce had already turned to new interests, among them building a velocipede (early bicycle) that he rode around Chalon. Starting around 1816, another interest was combining the process of lithography, invented in 1798, with the idea of capturing photographic images using a camera obscura. Today the process he invented is known as photo-lithography.

The problem with camera obscura images, long used as an aid to artists, was that no one had found a way to capture them in a permanent form other than drawing them. Dissatisfied with the results obtained with silver oxide-coated paper, Niépce turned to bitumen, used on the copper plates for making engravings. He developed a process he called heliography, which allowed him to copy existing engravings by laying them in the sun on a lithographic stone or a sheet of metal or glass that had been thinly coated with bitumen dissolved in lavender oil, leaving a reproducible impression on the plate.

Attempting to capture a camera image on such a plate was not a huge leap. Niépce set up a camera obscura in the window of his studio and in his first try, projected the image onto bitumen-coated stone. His second version was projected onto bitumen-coated pewter, and that is the image that survives to this day. At one time the exposure time was thought to have been eight hours but further recent research has shown in fact the exposure took several days, which is why the sunlight in the image does not come from only one direction!

Enhanced image of the buildings, light and shadows captured in Niepce’s original photograph.

Niépce traveled to England to see his seriously-ill brother late in 1826. While he was at Kew, he met botanical illustrator Francis Bauer and showed him the heliography prints and the photograph. Bauer encouraged him to share his discoveries with the Royal Society. However, the paper Niépce presented to the Society was rejected because he was too reluctant to divulge the details of his work.

Niépce left his samples and his paper with Bauer and returned to France, where he partnered in 1829 with Louis Daugerre, who was also investigating ways to capture camera images. But Niépce died suddenly of a stroke in 1833, so impoverished that the French government paid for his burial. When Daugerre presented his own process, the “daugerreotype” to the world in 1839, he claimed the recognition as the inventor of photography, over the protests of Niépce’s son. Bauer managed to have Niépce’s work exhibited at the Royal Society, but nonetheless Niépce was mostly forgotten until the modern age.

In 1952, a pair of photography historians, Helmut and Alison Gernsheim, managed to track down what had become of Niépce’s photograph and acquired it. Their collection was purchased in 1963 by the University of Texas. Niépce’s reputation has finally been restored, and his original first photograph can be seen today on display at the university’s Harry Ransom Center in Austin, Texas. Did you have any idea that photography had such an early beginning?

(all images used with this post are public domain)

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