The Unconventional Miss Starke: Writer and Adventuress

One of the most proficient travel writers of the late 18th century was – a woman: Mariana Starke. Her travel guides were an essential companion for British travellers to the Continent.
Being successful didn’t make life easy for Mariana. Female writing for the public was frowned upon. From her years as budding authoress to the latest edition of her successful travel guide, she always had to deal with criticism from more conventional members of society. Unperturbed by this, she led an unusual life for a woman of her time. Continue reading

Eleonore Wickham: The Master Spy’s Wife

On 25th September 1799, shortly before 5 o’clock in the morning, the Wickhams woke up by the sound of guns. Were the French marching against Zurich again? William Wickham (1761 – 1840), England’s leading spy on the Continent, placed his wife Eleonore (1763-1836) under the care of his private secretary, the Count of St. George. He himself rode out reconnoitring the situation. Continue reading

Queen Caroline’s Scandals in Italy

Caroline of Brunswick (1768 –1821) had the misfortune of being unhappily married to George, Prince of Wales. The Prince refused to communicate with her, and permitted her to see her daughter only once a week. Being freezed out of Carlton House, Caroline set off for a long trip throughout Europe in 1814.

What seems to be a reasonable thing to do today was the beginning of a long lists of scandals in the eyes of her contemporaries. Her husband, trying to find reasons to divorce her, sent agents to spy on her, and her every movement was reported back to England.

Here is a list of the main scandals Caroline was accused of: Continue reading

The Girl, the Kite and the Eccentric Inventor

In this post:
Inventions and science in the Romantic Age
Help, my father is an inventor!
Martha Pocock as a character of a novel – and plot bunnies involving the Pocock family

Martha Pocock was not what we associate with a typical girl of the Romantic Age. She was neither an epitome of propriety nor a simpering Miss. Martha had guts and she was hands-on. She was the first woman to be lifted into the air under a kite. Martha owed her experiences in flying under a kite to her father. George Pocock (1774–1843) was an inventor and a schoolmaster. He became famous for inventing the first kite-drawn carriage. Sounds like a joke? It’s not.

Continue reading

Writer’s Travel Guide: Anna-Maria Hunt and the Rescue of Lanhydrock House

In this post:

Lanhydrock House is located 3 miles from Bodmin, Cornwall. Today, the house is presented mainly on the basis of the events and owners of the Victorian age. But Lanhydrock House is well rooted in the Regency period and can tell you the story of Anna-Maria Hunt (1771-1861) and her arduous inheritance.

An Arduous Inheritance

Anna-Maria had always been considered the heir of Lanhydrock House, at that time owned by her uncle, George Hunt. In the eyes of the fine society, she was a lucky heiress, the aim of every fortune-hunter. But when her uncle died in 1798, she was confronted with a tricky testament and the strange humour of Uncle George:  He left her Lanhydrock, but also the shocking amount of £68,000 (£2.2m in today’s money) in debts. Uncle George’s money, his shares in mines, arrears from tin, copper and timber dues and even the furniture of Lanhydrock went to some distant cousins. Anna-Maria found herself with £100 with which to run the estate and only three people in service living in Lanhydrock: an aged housekeeper, her daughter and the gardener. Continue reading