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Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Wednesday Spotlight: Lesley-Anne McLeod

Searching London for a Millinery Shop

Beau Brummell, it is recorded, once apologized for being seen on the east side of Charing Cross in London. In the Regency, it seems, the City of London and, as Brummell said, all things east of Mayfair were indeed considered unfashionable by the Beau Monde.

So when I needed a location for a millinery shop that was not a la mode for my newest release The Harmless Deception I looked east. I found that streets to the south of The Strand were lined with small shops, and as long as one did not descend too close to the river, they were respectable and worthy of patronage by the families of the professional and burgeoning middle classes.

In the end I created Felling Street which closes resembles this street near the Duke of Northumberland's property just east of Charing Cross.

In the creation of this street I was aided by several research sources. British History Online is an invaluable resource. From the home page you can access a directory page of remarkable resources on London from maps to journals to surveys of its environs. Visitors can enter the name of any street in the search box and find a complete history of that street!

Another remarkable resource is The London Encyclopedia, now sadly out of print. 'Everything anyone could possibly want to know about London is contained within the covers of this magnificent and fascinating book.' Likewise Chambers London Gazetteer provides a street by street analysis of the city.

There are myriad books on London. It is of course a city worthy of a life-time of study.

I was delighted to revisit London for my book The Harmless Deception. My heroine Grace Whitton knew the city and all its boroughs and environs well. But she was happy enough to leave it all behind when love intervened. For she lived on the fringes of the fashionable city, and life there could be hard indeed. The Regency was a time of great wealth and great squalor. The dichotomy is fascinating and it is what keeps me writing about the period.


Sherry Gloag said...

That research site sounds awesome. I'm going oever there in a moment as I, too, need some London info for my foray into the Regency period for m current wip.
Thanks for sharing

Lesley-Anne McLeod said...

You are most welcome. I'm off to write a Friday blog post about another great research resource!