Jane Harcourt's Historical Romances
Jane Harcourt, the youngest of
Anna and her Daughters,
worked as an assistant
to historical biographer Augusta Millard, and subsequently wrote a series of
popular historical romances, set in the 17th Century. Her first, published when
she was barely out of her teens, was
The Mulberry Coach.
To quote Jane when she described it to her London friends, "It's about a duel
and an elopement and a marriage at Gretna Green." And it's pure. "It's quite
suitable for Aunt Fanny's birthday -- but you should read it yourself, first."
The Mulberry Coach
was later adapted as a play, with the heroine's name
changed from Agnes to Angela, and was put on to great success (and several cast
changes) by the Shepherdsford Dramatic Society in
*** Invisible No More***
As of November 2011,
The Mulberry Coach
is now an actual
published story by D. E. Stevenson, in the collection
Portrait of Saskia
The Biography of Lady Esmeralda Pie
by Augusta Millard
Augusta Millard, Jane Harcourt's employer and mentor in
Anna and her
has written a number of historical biographies.
"The adventures of
Lady Esmeralda Pie make
amusing reading," she tells Jane. "She was a baggage; there's no other word
Lady Esmeralda's background was no less interesting than herself; it was a
colourful picture of luxury and squalor. Armies of servants thronged the great
houses; coaches rumbled up to the doors. Huge meals were eaten at tables laden
with silver and lit by candles; there was drinking and gambling and duelling.
Highwaymen frequented lonely roads and footpads lurked in the streets. Thieves
were hanged and crowds gathered to see the grisly entertainment. (Chapter 7 of
Anna and her Daughters.]
Mr. Senture's Book
During the final year of the first World War, Charlotte Dean's bleak
existence was lightened a little by the arrival of a curious old man
Hinkleton to research the architecture and stained glass of her father's church
for a book he was writing.
The church, says Charlotte, is of grey stone, beautiful and simple and bare.
and the windows are of that clear, transparent glass which transmute the
sunbeams to shafts of jewelled light.
"The book was eventually published and I have often wondered whether he made
any money for his invalid wife. I loved the book, of course, but it would not
appeal to a wide public, I'm afraid."
The Young Clementina,
1935 (also published as
Miss Dean's Dilemma
Divorced from Reality.
Veronica's First Term
Music in the Hills,
fourteen-year-old Eleanor is neglected by her mother and bullied by her father
and has too many romantic notions. Finally, Mamie takes the bull by the horns
and tells Eleanor's mother, Lady Shaw that her daughter needs attention and,
frankly, an education. So she is to be sent to school.
But Eleanor is wary about school, and discusses it with her friend James.
"I don't know," said Eleanor doubtfully. "Hollly gave me a book called
Veronica's First Term
and I've been reading it this afternoon. One of the
girls stole a pair of gloves from another girl and one of the mistresses found
them in Veronica's drawer, right at the back and all covered up with linen, so
of course everybody thought--"
"That's nonsense!" declared James stoutly.
Anne Selby's Book
Anne Selby (one of the Ayrton children from
) is a single mother,
cast off by her parents for making an ill-advised marriage and barely making
meet in wartime England. When she writes a book about her childhood home,
Amberwell, for her daughter Emmie, it is published and becomes a mildly popular
success, bringing in just enough money to ease their lot a little, along with a
satisfactory secondary benefit.
Disturber of the Peace
Of course no Invisible Library is complete without Miss Buncle's infamous book
in the eponymous
Miss Buncle's Book.
Miss Buncle, a respectable spinster living in the even more respectable village
Silverstream, is suffering from reduced circumstances, due to the reality of
the Depression. She must have money somehow. The faithful Dorcas
doesn't like the idea of keeping chickens, so Miss B turns her hand to
writing. As one does.
Stumped for inspiration, she bases her story on her own neighbours, only
and trouble--of course--ensues.