Wednesday, 29 June 2011

So who was William IV?

I decided when I started this blog I’d post regularly every three weeks or so, and look, I’ve got behind already. Perhaps I shouldn’t have started when I was rushing to get the draft of the new book finished. Well, it is finished now, and I’ll be spending the next month or so editing it.

For me, this means fixing (hopefully minor) plot holes (quick note to self – sort out where Angus the cat has ended up), adjusting pace so there are no boring bits, reworking ugly sentences and stilted dialogue, and fixing silly mistakes, eg. characters whose brown eyes in chapter three have turned blue by chapter eleven. Spell-checker deals with (most) spelling mistakes, though I always leave the grammar-checker turned off. This is because correct grammar can ruin dialogue and, I find, wreaks havoc with what I like to think of as my ‘voice’. Also, frankly, I’m not very good at grammar and wouldn’t know what’s ‘correct’ anyway. Clearly I wasn’t listening at school during that bit of the curriculum.
After this the manuscript goes to my publisher, where it gets edited several more times. This is a long and extremely thorough process, and then there’s the cover and all that sort of thing to be done, so it’ll be ages before this book appears in the book shops. In the meantime I’ll be starting work on the next volume in the series.

The Research

I’m contemplating writing a few paragraphs on swearing during the era of William IV, seeing as that’s the time period for the new series and it’s an interesting subject, but first who was William IV and when did he reign?

Well, William IV was the third son of George III, and brother of George IV. George IV had been Prince of Wales (or Prince of Whales, as he was known, because he weighed 17 stone) and was George III’s first son. The second son, Frederick, died before his chance came to get on the throne. To see the most excellent Oscar-winning film about George III, check out ‘The Madness of King George’, 1994, on DVD with Nigel Hawthorne and Helen Mirren.

When George IV died in June 1830, leaving no surviving children, William succeeded and reigned until he died in June 1837, also leaving no children, after which Victoria, as heiress presumptive, became queen. Victoria’s father Edward had been George III’s fourth son, who had died in 1820, the same year as his father, leaving Victoria his only surviving heir.

William’s reign is sometimes included in the somewhat all-encompassing term ‘the Georgian era’ named for Georges I-IV, and even more loosely lumped into ‘the Regency period’, due to George IV having been the Prince Regent from 1810 to 1820, when he took the throne on his father’s death, depending on what site you look at on the internet. But neither term fits particularly well, given that all the Georges had slipped their clogs by the time it was William’s turn.

It’s strongly suspected that George III had the dreadful blood disease porphyria, which turns your wee purple and can cause severe mental disturbance. He talked incessantly and obscenely, which brings me back to bad language. Swearing in the late 1830s was different to swearing now – more words to choose from for a start – but I’ve run out of space so I’ll consider the subject in more detail next time.