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Friday, July 8, 2011

Friday Spotlight: Lindsay Townsend

Princess Caraboo - one of the inspirations for my heroine, Edith.

Lindsay Townsend


In my newly-published To Touch The Knight, my heroine Edith pretends to be an exotic eastern princess, The Lady of Lilies, to save herself and her fellow villagers from starvation after the pestilence (the Black Death, which struck England in 1348). Edith is a peasant woman and blacksmith and I speak about a typical day in the life of a medieval peasant woman here at Unusual Historicals.

In my novel, however, Edith presents herself as a strange princess with her own seductive costumes, language and customs. One of my inspirations for this particular desperate deception was a real-life fake from the eighteenth century, the Princess Caraboo.

This ‘princess’ was a young woman who appeared in a Gloucestershire village in 1817, dressed in unusual clothes and speaking a strange language. Upon investigation by the local magistrate, it was discovered she called herself Caraboo and later a sailor claimed he knew her language and translated her story. Caraboo claimed to be a princess from an island in the Indian ocean, who had escaped after being captured by pirates.

The magistrate, Stephen Worrall, and his wife, took in Princess Caraboo. She lived with them for several weeks, famous and fĂȘted by the local community.

In reality Princess Caraboo turned out to be Mary Baker, the daughter of an English cobbler. When the hoax was revealed due to her picture in the 'Bristol Journal' being recognized, the Worralls arranged for Mary to leave for Philadelphia.

Mary did go to America but returned later to England and died there. It was the story of her unusual deception that inspired a 1994 film, Princess Caraboo and partly inspired my own novel, To Touch The Knight.

5 comments:

katsrus said...

Beautiful book covers. Your book sounds really interesting.
Sue Brandes

cheryl c said...

Fascinating story about "Princess Caraboo." It makes me want to know more about her.
castings at mindspring dot com

Ginger Hanson said...

What an intriguing inspiration for your book's heroine. She sounds resourceful and imaginative.

Gabby said...

Well your books sound very intriguing! It's also kind of cool that you were inspired by someone that lived a long time ago!

kakuchouakisame_19(at)yahoo(dot)com

Lindsay Townsend said...

Many thanks to everyone who has read and/or commented on the blog this week!
I wish you all luck in the contest draw!