The Jacobites – Romantic or Despotic?

The Jacobites – Romantic or Despotic?


The Jacobite movement started when the Stuart King, James II was deposed in 1688.

Parliament, not wanting a Roman Catholic king gave the throne of Great Britain and Ireland to his daughter Mary II and her husband and first cousin William of Orange.

King James and his family left England and went into exile. The Stuarts were not without their supporters, however. There were people who thought that Parliament had no business interfering with the natural line of succession. These people became known as Jacobites – the supporters of James.

Jacobite support was strongest in parts of the Scottish Highlands, lowland northeast Scotland, Ireland, and parts of northern England. In England, support for James came mostly from Northumberland and Lancashire. James also had some supporters in Wales and southwest England.

To be a Jacobite supporter was a very dangerous game. The stakes were high. If you were discovered you would be guilty of treason, and the death penalty would undoubtedly await you. Expressing allegiance, therefore, had to be done covertly through secret rituals, secret symbols, and secret messages.

The Jacobites had many secret symbols, including the sunflower to symbolise loyalty, as a sunflower always follows the sun and moths or butterflies whose emergence from a chrysalis symbolised the hope for the return to power of the Stuart family. The Merovingian bee was adopted by the exiled Stuarts in Europe, and engraved bees are still to be seen on some Jacobite glassware.

The Jacobite White Cockade

In the years leading up to the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745 Jacobites were forced to meet and plot in secret, and the white rose or white cockade (a flower made from ribbon, often worn on a hat) was a way of identifying those who supported the cause.The emblem of the Jacobites was the White Cockade.

All 69 Scottish Nationalist Party members of parliament wore white roses in their lapels at the swearing-in ceremony of the Scottish parliament a few years back. When asked about the significance of the Nationalists wearing of the white rose Scotland’s First Minister at the time, Alex Salmond, denied that the flower was a reference to the Jacobites. Instead, he cited the poem “The Little White Rose”, written by the Scottish poet Hugh MacDiarmid, and claimed the rose stood for “all of Scotland”. MacDiarmid (1892-1978) was a committed Nationalist. In 1928 he helped found the National Party of Scotland, the forerunner of today’s Scottish National Party.

Rosa x alba grows all over Scotland. It is a bushy shrub-like rose with dark, grey-green foliage and a small five-petalled flower, similar to a dog rose, which can be white or pale pink. They only flower in spring and have a beautiful scent with notes of citrus. The plants are hardy, thrive in poor soil, can tolerate shade and drought and are for the most part resistant to disease.

The origins of the rose as a symbol are somewhat lost in myth and legend. It is said that one of the earliest references refers to the birth of James Francis Edward Stuart, son of the deposed King James II, who was born on 10th June in 1688, said to be “the longest day of the year in which the white rose flowers”. Another legend tells how Bonnie Prince Charlie plucked a white rose from the roadside and stuck it in his hat as he made his way south from Glenfinnan to start the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745.

English, Irish and Welsh Jacobites

Jacobitism was attractive to members of the English aristocracy who had chosen to remain Catholic after the Reformation.

About 2-3% of the English population remained Catholics at the time of the Glorious Revolution in 1688. The highest concentration of Catholics was in the north of England.

The movement also found support in the Catholic populations of Ireland and rural Wales because they hoped the return of a Stuart king would end their exclusion from many aspects of civic and political life under the Recusancy Acts.

In Ireland, James was supported for his 1687 Declaration of Indulgence or, as it is also known, The Declaration for the Liberty of Conscience. This declaration promised an Irish Parliament.

Scottish Jacobites

Catholic country gentry tended were James most ideologically committed supporters. Drawing on almost two centuries of suffering as a religious minority persecuted by the state they rallied enthusiastically to the Jacobite cause.

Highland clans such as the MacDonnels and MacDonalds of Clanranald, Keppoch, Glengarry and Glencoe; the Clan Chisolm, and the clan Ogilvy were largely still Catholic. Other clans, such as the powerful Camerons, were Episcopalian, and as staunch in their Jacobitism as their allies the Catholic MacDonalds.

Scottish Episcopalians provided over half of the Jacobite forces in Britain. As Protestants, they could take part in Scottish politics, but as a religious minority, they were repeatedly discriminated against in legislation which favoured the established Presbyterian Church of Scotland.  About half the Episcopalians supporting the Jacobite cause came from the Lowlands, but this was obscured in the risings by their tendency to wear the Highland dress.

In the Gaelic-speaking Scottish Highland clans, Jacobites were known as Seumasaich. The clan chiefs ran their own private armies and there was often conflict between them. This conflict was more about political power and money than religion as most were Catholic.

A significant source of friction was the territorial ambitions of the Presbyterian Campbells of Argyll. Another was James VII’s sympathetic treatment of the Highland clans. Monarchs since the late 16th century had been antagonistic to the Gaelic-Highland way of life but James had worked sympathetically with the clan chieftains. He had put in place the Commission for Pacifying the Highlands but that had now been abandoned. Some Highland chieftains, therefore, viewed Jacobitism as a means of resisting hostile government interference in their territories. These private armies would go onto provide the bulk of Jacobite manpower in both the 1715 and 1745 rebellions.

Although most support for the Stuart cause came from Tories there were some notable Whig exceptions most notably the Earl of Mar. Most sympathetic Whigs were merely keeping their options open in case the Stuarts returned.

Jacobite Romance

Jacobites were definitively romantic. They were the underdogs in the battle with the British state. They fought heroically for their rights and their country. They were brave and dashing in their Highland garb but they weren’t what would pass as the good guys today. They were distinctly unenlightened and un-democratic.

They believed in:

• the divine right of kings and the accountability of Kings to God alone;
• inalienable hereditary right; and the unequivocal scriptural injunction of non-resistance and passive obedience to the crown.


Scotland, A Concise History, Fitzroy Maclean, Thames and Hudson
Bonnie Prince Charlie, Fitzroy Maclean, Canongate Books Ltd.
The Jacobites, Britain and Europe 1688–1788, Daniel Szechi, Manchester University
The Myths of the Jacobite Clans, Murray G. H. Pittock, Edinburgh University Press

Julia Herdman writes historical fiction that puts women to the fore. Her latest book Sinclair, Tales of Tooley Street Vol. 1. is  Available on Amazon – Paperback £10.99 Kindle £2.42  Also available on:

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Writing about women in the past

Writing about women in the past

The position of women in the historical novel is problematic for authors. I am interested in exploring the strengths and weaknesses of my characters and how they cope with the historical world and I want to show women in a positive and realistic light. However, when it comes to writing about women in past I am confronted with some tricky problems. The main problem is that for most of history women were legally, socially and economically subject to the will of men.

In a strange way, poor women were the freest to be themselves as they worked even when they were married and had children. Poor women earned their own money. The problem for these women was that their earnings were always vastly inferior to men’s. A woman alone in the past was almost invariably a poor and exploited one.

It is true that in London and in other large towns where there was the possibility of social anonymity many women turned to prostitution as a more lucrative way of staying alive.

For women of the middling sort, I hesitate to use the word class here, as for most of history there was no middle class as we know today, financial dependence on men was the norm even into the middle of the last century. Of course, financial dependence on men has not gone away as women are still paid on average 16% less than men for the same work but women are thankfully no longer forced into financial servitude to men.

A single ‘free’ woman in the past was the exception. Any unmarried woman would almost certainly be viewed as unsuccessful.

Marriage and children were the markers of success for a woman in past. With no meaningful contraception, women were constantly burdened with pregnancy and subject to premature death in childbirth. They were responsible for almost all childcare unless a woman was wealthy enough to employ a nurse or nanny.

Of course marriage still an honourable estate for most men and women but more women are going it alone than ever before and are happy with their decision. For the majority of us who marry, it’s a struggle to manage a demanding career and a family no matter how successful we are in our chosen profession.

So how does the modern author go about creating their female historical characters?

Well, some authors focus their attention on the few women who broke the mould in the past while other abandon any sense of historical verisimilitude. Some use the Cinderella formula while others make their female characters masculine, sassy and ruthless. All of these forms can work if the story is good enough but they were not for me in the Tales of Tooley Street as the characters are inspired by actual people who lived and worked at 65 Tooley Street for three generations.

Approaches to representing female characters in the past:

Some argue that The Fortunes and Misfortunes of the Famous Moll Flanders (commonly known simply as Moll Flanders) a novel by Daniel Defoe, first published in 1722 is the prototype for a female character who by the end of the novel controls her own life and is financially independent. Moll achieves what many feminists call success.

Feminist writer Diana Del Vecchio says, “By the end of the book, Moll has completely appropriated the role of the husband, the provider, the masculine, the seeker, the adventurer, the leader, the thinker, and has figuratively donned the clothing of man, while keeping her nature as woman intact. She makes the final decision to enter and sign a legal contract with her son, where he manages her inherited land and gives her an annual compensation of the lands’ produce. When she returns to Jemy, it is she that supplies him with a dowry of a gold watch, a hundred pounds in silver, a deerskin purse, Spanish pistols, three horses with harnesses and saddles, some hogs, two cows, and other gifts for the farm. She enters this relationship with the fortune of her inheritance and the many accouterments that she has acquired and accumulated in her years as a thief. For the first time in her life, she forms a relationship with a man, where she is the one in control.”

The fact that Moll has to step outside the law to become independent is the problem for me but it is probably a realistic one as Defoe was fully aware of the way society worked in the early 18th century. Prostitution and thieving were rife in London in the 18th century but most women involved in the trade did not end up like Moll. Most ended in an early grave, at the end of a noose or transported for life if caught. My character is inspired by a respectable widow who raises her son to be a successful doctor so prostitution and thieving are not options for her.

Historian Lucy Worsley’s most recent BBC TV series on the Wives of Henry III offers an alternative approach to the female character and narrative in history.

In the series, Dr. Worsley looked at the events of Henry’s reign through the eyes of the women involved. She cleverly managed to breath new life into this overworked territory by showing Katherine of Aragon as a competent and popular queen not as the obsessively religious woman of traditional portrayals. She showed Katherine was intelligent, ambitious and for much of her 24-year marriage to Henry, she gave as good as she got. Anne Boleyn too was shown as a clever and ambitious woman betrayed by her husband and removed on trumped up charges of adultery. Jane Seymour was a young and tragic a woman fed to the old lecher of a king by her male relatives only to die in childbirth. Ann of Cleaves was a smart political operator who negotiated herself out of disaster and ended up one of the richest women in England. Catherine Howard was what we would call an abused child who did not know how to say no to powerful and determined men; and, Katherine Parr was a wily woman of great learning and intellect who used her position to promote the establishment of the ‘new religion’ Protestantism and managed to outmaneuver and outwit her enemies at court.

In my own writing, I have taken the Lucy Worsley approach. My heroine, Charlotte Leadam, the widow of the Tooley Street surgeon, Christopher Leadam, is intelligent and resourceful but she is an 18th-century woman living in 18th century London. She faces financial ruin when her husband dies. As a woman, she cannot run the apothecary shop she owns because she cannot hold an apothecary license as a woman but she must pay her husband’s debts. As a widow, she yearns for the return of the feeling of financial security and independence she enjoyed when she was married but she does not want to remarry.  Charlotte achieves her desires by complying with some social conventions of the day and by ignoring others but she’s always well within the law. Here’s an excerpt.

“You and John will stay here with us now that Christopher has gone,” her mother said, in a tone that indicated it was not a matter for discussion.

“That’s very kind of you and father, but Christopher has not gone, as you put it. He died; my husband is dead. I am a widow, not an abandoned child.”

“We know that, dearest. Your father and I comprehend the situation all too clearly,” she said, handing her daughter a fresh towel and a bar of soap. “You’re a woman without a husband and without an income. You cannot simply go back to your old life, Charlotte; it no longer exists. Your father and I have discussed the matter, and we have decided that it is best that you and John stay here where we can provide for you. That is until you marry again.”

The flame of ire burning in Charlotte’s chest was rekindled and refuelled. Whilst she could not dispute her mother’s analysis of the situation, she was nonetheless livid with her for expressing it so clearly. She bit her lip, held her tongue and breathed the long slow breaths that Christopher had taught her to use in such situations. Experience told her that this was not the time or the place to have an argument with her mother. Losing her temper never worked; she had to be more cunning than that. As calmly as she could she said, “Mother, I have no plans to remarry.”

“I’m not saying that you have to forget Christopher. I’m not that cruel and insensitive. ” She pointed to the bath. “Your father took this in lieu of payment from a whore in St James’s. The poor woman could not pay her rent either, so your father took the bath before the landlord did. My friend Mrs. Peacock says that bathing is of great benefit for the nerves, so I thought you might like to try it. I shall not be doing so: I’m too old to change the habits of a lifetime. Besides, they cost a fortune in hot water – which is all very well for Mrs. Peacock: her husband is a banker. And I can’t use poor Millie like this again; she is exhausted with carrying the pails from the kitchen.”

When her mother had gone Charlotte launched herself face down onto the bed and let out a long, low scream of frustration. How dare her mother decide what she was going to do with her life without even talking to her about it? And why had she told her about the whore? Was she trying to warn her what happens to women who are left on their own?

Julia Herdman writes historical fiction that puts women to the fore. Her latest book Sinclair, Tales of Tooley Street Vol. 1. is  Available on Amazon 

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Flowers, Theatre and Fashion – Fanny Abington

Flowers, Theatre and Fashion – Fanny Abington

The actress Frances Barton or Frances “Fanny” Barton was the daughter of a private soldier who started her working life as a flower girl and a street singer. As an actress, she performed in taverns and resorted to selling herself as many hard-up women did in those days before she made it onto the stage.

Her first step to success came when she got a job as a servant to a French milliner. Fanny learned about costume and acquired some French which afterward stood her in good stead as she mingled in London’s high society as a famous actress.

Actress Fanny first appeared on the stage was at Haymarket in 1755 as Miranda in Mrs. Centlivre’s play, Busybody. Following that she became a member of the Drury Lane Company, where she was overshadowed by its more established actresses Hannah Pritchard and Kitty Clive. However, Fanny was an she was an ambitious actress and travelled to Ireland where she had her first major success Lady Townley in The Provok’d Husband by Vanbrugh and Cibber. Fanny worked at her trade, she became a consumate actress and five years after she began her career she received an invitation from David Garrick to return to Drury Lane.

Fanny married her music teacher, James Abington, a royal trumpeter, in 1759. It was not happy and the pair separated but she retained his name calling herself Mrs. Abington. She remained at Drury Lane for eighteen yearsFanny played Mrs. Teasel in Sheridan’s School for Scandal making the role her own. She also played Shakespearean heroines – Beatrice, Portia, Desdemona and Ophelia and the comic characters  Miss Hoyden, Biddy Tipkin, Lucy Lockit, and Miss Prue. Mrs. Abington’s Kitty in “High Life Below Stairs” put her in the foremost rank of comic actresses, making the mop cap she wore in the role the reigning fashion“.

This cap was soon referred to as the “Abington Cap” and frequently seen on stage as well as in hat shops across Ireland and England. Adoring fans donned copies of this cap and it became an essential part of the well-appointed woman’s wardrobe. The actress soon became known for her avant-garde fashion and she even came up with a way of making the female figure appear taller. She began to wear a tall-hat called a ziggurat adorned with long flowing feathers and began to follow the French custom of putting red powder on her hair.

An example of Fanny’s influence on fashion – the high ziggurat style hat.

Sir Joshua Reynolds painted her as Miss Prue a character from Congreve’s Love for Love. The portrait is the best-known of his half-dozen or more portraits of her. In 1782 she left Drury Lane for Covent Garden. After an absence from the stage from 1790 until 1797, she reappeared, quitting it finally in 1799. Her ambition, personal wit, and cleverness won her a distinguished position in society, in spite of her humble origin.

Source; Wikipedia

Illustrations: Fanny Abington, Joshua Reynolds, Portrait of Marie-Dauncey,1789, James-Northcote, Fanny as Miss Prue, Joshua Reynolds.

Julia Herdman writes historical fiction that puts women to the fore. Her latest book Sinclair, Tales of Tooley Street Vol. 1. is  Available on Amazon 

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Roxana: Sex, Morals and Murder

Roxana: Sex, Morals and Murder

Roxana - Julia HerdmanPublished anonymously, and not attributed to Defoe until 1775, the novel Roxana was a popular hit in the eighteenth century although many readers find it a hard read today.

Roxana was Defoe’s last, darkest, and most commercial novel. It is about a woman who trades her virtue for survival and, once she is secure financially, continues to sacrifice her virtue for greater and greater riches according to  John Mullan in the introduction to the Oxford World Classic edition of Roxana.

Money, or lack of it, is the root of Roxana’s problems. The same is true for most female literary characters until the present day. Why is it we girls find it so hard to make ends meet financially?

The book is supposed to be a biography of a woman called Madamoselle Beleau, the lovely daughter of French Protestant refugees, who was brought up in England and married to a good-for-nothing son of an English brewer.

Fictional biographies, an oxymoron if ever there was one, were all the rage in 18th-century literature and Defoe’s story of Roxana was a particularly salacious one filled with moral ambiguity, sex and murder; a sure fired recipe for success even in today’s literature market.

The plot has many twists and turns but begins when after eight years of marriage, our heroine’s spendthrift husband leaves her penniless with five children to look after. Receiving no help from her relatives, she abandons her children to the care of an old woman; abandoning one’s children in any scenario especially a literary one is a sign a woman is about to become morally and socially persona non grata but Roxana justifies abandoning her children on the grounds that they were starving, confessing, ‘the Misery of my own Circumstances hardened my Heart against my own Flesh and Blood.” Of course, her husband has already abandoned them but there is no moral approbation for him.

The penniless Roxana starts up an affair with her landlord whose wife has left him. He offers to share his wealth with her, bequeathing her five hundred pounds in his will and promising seven thousand pounds if he leaves her. Her relationship with the landlord is often condemned by critics as a relationship based on personal gain and not love. A woman should always fulfil the English romantic ideal of giving herself up to love not for financial advantage; an ideal that was more honoured in the breach than in reality especially when it came to families with money in the eighteenth century.

The fictional pair settle down together but Roxana fails to produce a child for her new lover so she sends her maid to do the job for her, which she does. Roxana takes the child as her own to save her maid’s reputation. It seems children were to be traded too in Defoe’s lurid mind. Two years later, Roxana has a daughter of her own but the child dies within six months. A year later, she pleases her lover with a son, the inference being that boys are to be preferred. So far, Roxana’s actions are a curious mixture of adhering to and breaking the social, religious, and cultural norms of the day but with the death of her common-law husband, the landlord,  she becomes a devoid of morality and sexual restraint.

Boucher Resting GirlIn the next part of the book, Roxana becomes a greedy hedonist and the mistress of a French prince with whom she has a son. She could have stopped her whoring when the landlord died, she had enough money to live as a quiet widow but she did not. The amoral Roxana likes money and sex and seems to have little or no feeling for the children she produces along the way. Finally, she marries a Dutch merchant who has been her longtime lover and friend, has another son and settles down into a respectable life. But, just as she is enjoying life her oldest daughter, Susan, turns up wanting a share of her mother’s new found fortune under threat of blackmail. Luckily Roxana has a maid who will rid her of her troublesome child by murdering her!

When her Dutch husband dies soon after Susan’s murder Roxana enters the final phase of her fall from matronly virtue to a common harlot.  She returns to England with her bloom has well and truly gone but she still believes she has sexual power over men but with he looks and body ravaged by age and childbirth her allure fails and she becomes a common prostitute.

The end of the novel was adapted to the moral climate of its publication. In Defoe’s original version Roxana does not die but repents for the life she has lived, and that too—according to Roxana herself—only because she comes to an unhappy end after the death of her husband. However, with the book being published anonymously, as was often the case with fictitious histories in those days, it went through several editions with various endings, in all of which Roxana dies repenting of her sins.

The novel’s importance in feminists’ eyes comes from Roxanna’s celebrated claim that “the Marriage Contract is…nothing but giving up Liberty, Estate, Authority, and everything, to the Man“.  It further draws attention to the incompatibility between sexual freedom and the responsibilities of motherhood in a world without contraception. The male characters in the novel seem to receive no moral approbation, unlike Roxana.

Some say the character of Roxana is a proto-feminist like Defoe’s other great female character, Moll Flanders because she works at prostitution for her own ends. Her work earns her independence from men. Indeed Defoe would have been aware of women all over London doing the same but probably with less success than his female characters, neither of which succumb to the pox or the violence that attends such trade.

It is difficult to take any moral or feminist lessons from Roxana because it is a novel of its time and more focused on themes Defoe’s readers would have recognised in the 18th century than any of today’s feminist ideals. I do think Defoe at least recognised an abandoned woman’s plight. As a character, Roxana has her origins in Restoration Comedy. She carries both the hope and optimism of the young that things will turn out well for her financially and in love but she is also burdened by the corruption of those who went before her. Her greed, moral corruption, and self-delusion; were perhaps a reflection of Defoe’s assessment of life.

Daniel DefoeThe happy ending of  Restoration plays is supposed to be a restoration of order from the chaos and confusion fostered by the older generation’s dishonesty and greed. Defoe perhaps cannot blame Roxana for the faults of the older generation and so in his conclusion to the novel he does not seek to punish Roxana with death as so many of its more puritanical publishers did when they re-wrote the ending. I think Defoe knows there is no escape from the corruption of power and money. He had his own scrapes with the law, scrapes in business and got involved in corrupt politics. Perhaps he hopes that in reprieving Roxana his own moral shortcomings will find forgiveness.

Voltaire in Love

Voltaire in Love

Voltaire, the great rationalist, was always falling in love and had numerous love affairs. His love life began with great passion when he was just seventeen years old.

‘Voltaire in Love‘ is perhaps the best known work about his love life. It is a popular history of the sixteen-year relationship between Voltaire and the Émilie, the Marquise du Châtelet. I wrote about Emilie last month, she was a great physicist who died tragically young giving birth to her lover’s child (not Voltaire’s their affair was long since over). The book was written by Nancy Mitford and first published in 1957. As well as telling the story of Voltaire’s love for Emilie it explores the French Enlightenment.

A musical featuring the music of Leonard Bernstein with contributions from the greatest lyricists of the 20th century, Stephen Sondheim to Dorothy Parker, is an outrageous musical satire that tells the story of Voltaire’s character, the naïve Candide, who is banished for romancing the Baron’s daughter only to be plagued by a series of absurd hardships that challenge his optimistic outlook of life and love. Candide will leave you enchanted. As you will see from the letter below the story is somewhat based on his own experience.

In my novel Sinclair, Voltaire (1694-1778), the French philosopher is one of my eponymous hero’s favourite authors. He takes a copy of Candide to India with him and loses it when the ship goes down but once he’s established himself in Tooley Street he’s quick to buy himself another copy.

“Knowing there was no going back, he made himself comfortable. He lit his lamp, took out a battered copy of ‘Candide’, his favourite book, and checked the hour with his treasured pocket watch. Like the book, it was French, and the most beautiful thing he had ever owned. He cradled it in his palm. The warmth of its golden body reminded him of the smoothness of a woman’s skin; its pearly white face was elegantly marked with Roman numerals; and the back, the part that he loved most of all, was made of cobalt blue enamel and shimmered like the silk of Iona McNeal’s ballgown the night they had danced at the Edinburgh Assembly Rooms. He turned it in his hand and kissed it then he put it back in his waistcoat pocket and started to read.

He chose the scene where Candide, the hero of the story, and his professor friend, Dr Pangloss, are nearly drowned in Lisbon harbour along with a sailor called Jacques. Candide and Pangloss survive, but Jacques dies attempting to save a fellow sailor. To explain how this is all part of God’s harmonious plan, Pangloss says that Lisbon harbour was created specifically so that Jacques could drown there and fulfil God’s divine plan for him. This was an idea so preposterous, like so many in the book, that it made Sinclair laugh out loud.”

Voltaire was incarcerated in the local prison for his own good to keep him away from the girl he had fallen in love with,Olympe Dunove.  Olympe’s mother and the French ambassador disapproved of their relationship. Such was the power of French aristocrats before the Revolution. Shortly after he wrote the letter below, he managed to escape by climbing out of the window.

Voltaire to Olympe Dunover, written in 1713 while in prison in the Hague.

“I am a prisoner here in the name of the King; they can take my life, but not the love that I feel for you. Yes, my adorable mistress, to-night I shall see you, and if I had to put my head on the block to do it.

For heaven’s sake, do not speak to me in such disastrous terms as you write; you must live and be cautious; beware of madame your mother as of your worst enemy. What do I say? Beware of everybody; trust no one; keep yourself in readiness, as soon as the moon is visible; I shall leave the hotel incognito, take a carriage or a chaise, we shall drive like the wind to Sheveningen; I shall take paper and ink with me; we shall write our letters.

If you love me, reassure yourself; and call all your strength and presence of mind to your aid; do not let your mother notice anything, try to have your pictures, and be assured that the menace of the greatest tortures will not prevent me to serve you. No, nothing has the power to part me from you; our love is based upon virtue, and will last as long as our lives. Adieu, there is nothing that I will not brave for your sake; you deserve much more than that. Adieu, my dear heart!”

Arout, (Voltaire)

According to Victor Hugo: “To name Voltaire is to characterize the entire eighteenth century.” Goethe regarded Voltaire to be the greatest literary figure in modern times, and possibly of all times. According to Diderot, Voltaire’s influence on posterity would extend far into the future.

Napoleon commented that till he was sixteen he “would have fought for Rousseau against the friends of Voltaire, today it is the opposite…The more I read Voltaire the more I love him. He is a man always reasonable, never a charlatan, never a fanatic.”

Frederick the Great commented on his good fortune for having lived in the age of Voltaire.

Catherine the Great had been reading Voltaire for sixteen years prior to becoming Empress of Russia in 1762. In October 1763, she began a correspondence with the philosopher that continued till his death. The content of these letters has been described as being akin to a student writing to a teacher.Upon Voltaire’s death, the Empress purchased his library, which was then transported and placed in The Hermitage.

In England, Voltaire’s views influenced Godwin, Paine, Mary Wollstonecraft, Bentham, Byron, and Shelley.[195] Macaulay made note of the fear that Voltaire’s very name incited in tyrants and fanatics. Voltaire was a man of reason and passion just like my character Sinclair. You can read about his escapades in my novel – see below.

Julia Herdman writes historical fiction that puts women to the fore. Her latest book Sinclair, Tales of Tooley Street Vol. 1. is  Available on Amazon – Paperback £10.99 Kindle £2.42  Also available on:

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