Look Out! My Nerd is Showing! (plus a Giveaway)

Good morrow, fair readers. Happy spring!

When writing Mistaken Premise, I did my usual nerd thing of looking for sources to capture the prevailing thoughts of Scotland, its people and its history, in the early Regency period. Following the Jacobite Rebellions, English society viewed their northern compatriot as a land of barbarous savages, but several artists, writers, and poets of the late Georgian era strove to change that view. Given his prominence in this Scottish revival – he was instrumental in arranging King George IV’s (formerly known as Prinny) formal state visit to Edinburgh in 1822 – ‘tis only fitting that I start with Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832). Widley known today for his Waverly novels and epic poetry, Scott also wrote an endearing series of books chronicling Scottish history for his sick grandson, collectively called Tales of a Scottish Grandfather.

Entrance of King George IV at the Palace of Hollyrood, 1828, by Sir David Wilkie, Royal Academy. (Sir David was mentioned in Mistaken Premise. Sir Walter Scott is the second gentleman from the left corner, standing against the wall watching the ceremony.)

I had never heard of these books until I came across two of the above volumes in my local Goodwill when Mistaken Premise was, for me, but a nascent premise. Published in 1828-30, the Tales were the most contemporary view of Scottish history I could find to my 1811-1814 setting. History books in that time period were more about telling a narrative, justifying a position, or perhaps, especially when addressed to children, conveying a moral, so don’t read Scott’s Tales for a scholarly viewpoint. However, they are an entertaining read, appropriate for an 8- to 12-year-old reader; what I liked best was when Scott and/or his grandson entered the story through asides sprinkled throughout all four volumes.

In poetry, I also listened to Scott’s Lord of the Isles (1818) and Lady of the Lake (1810) and Robert ‘Rabbie’ Burns (1759-1796). I prefer Wordsworth’s more lyrical, natural style to Scott’s heavier cantos, but I dutifully listened to gain exposure to Scotland from a native son. Whilst effectively rebuilding pride for Scotland’s history, please do not take Scott’s historical poems as scholarly fact. As for Burns… Rabbie’s use of the Scots language and his praise of his homeland made for enjoyable listening as I sewed.

The earliest, more modern approach to Scottish history I found was Andrew Lang’s (1844-1912) A Short History of Scotland, a condensed version of A History of Scotland from the Roman Occupation (1901-07). Whilst more accurate (according to my other sources), these books were Dry, and I often found myself confused as Lang would introduce a historical figure without giving any kind of background. HOWEVER, as I researched his biography for this post, Mr Lang has quite redeemed himself in my eyes! It turns out that in 1890, Mr Lang’s Old Friends: Essays in Epistolary Parody, has a character based on our own dear Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey – one of the earliest examples of what we now call JAFF.[i]

Carry on, Mr Lang; your dryness is forgiven!

Worry not, dear readers, I have endured, on your behalf, The Scottish Chiefs (1810), by Jane Porter (1775-1850). Miss Porter is an example of the vagaries of fate; born but 13 days before our beloved Jane Austen, she enjoyed the commercial success that eluded our dear Jane in her lifetime – but it is Austen, with her realism and wit, who endured through the ages. In comparing Miss Porter’s Scottish Chiefs to any of Austen’s novels, is likening crab-apples to clementines – they are both fruit (or novels, in this case) and both grow on trees (published in the same decade), but that is where any comparison ends. The crab-apple may not be the perfect analogy, for it is the very saccharinity of the Chiefs which make it bitter.

Miss Porter’s works are considered amongst the earliest examples of the historical fiction genre, but there was very little historical fact in her account of William Wallace (the main character in The Scottish Chiefs). A common complaint in JAFF is “the too-perfect Lizzy”, but I assure you, in all the 2000+ JAFFs I have read, I have yet to encounter a Lizzy who could compete with the Porter’s Wallace in perfection.

The Scottish Fairy Book, by Elizabeth Grierson (1881-1973), was my favourite. The stories were captivating – some a variation on the familiar tales from Mother Goose or the Brothers Grimm – and I would frequently sit in the car just to finish the tale. The most modern of the books mentioned today, The Scottish Fairy Book likely gave me the greatest appreciation for the folk tales and lore of Scotland. It was a shame that I could not quote it or weave it into Mistaken Premise.

Godspeed until next month, when I shall focus on Sir Walter Scott, his biography, his works, and his admiration of Jane Austen.

NOW FOR THE GIVEAWAY: Since I am new to the blog-o-sphere, I didn’t do a Giveaway last month, but would like to make up for that lapse now. I am offering an e-book copy of Mistaken Premise available to those who comment below. The giveaway will end at midnight EDT on Wednesday, March 29, 2023. The winner will be announced at Always Austen on Sunday, April 2. All prizes must be claimed within 72 hours of the winner’s announcement. After that time, an alternate will be chosen. Good luck, fair readers!

For those interested, here are the links on LibraVox – my largest source of the novels, poetry, and other writings of the long eighteenth-century (aka, the books my characters would have read):

Lady of the Lake (1810), by Sir Walter Scott: https://librivox.org/the-lady-of-the-lake-by-sir-walter-scott/

The Lord of the Isles (1818), by Sir Walter Scott: https://librivox.org/the-lord-of-the-isles-by-sir-walter-scott/

Robert Burns 250th Anniversary Collection: https://librivox.org/robert-burns-250th-anniversary-collection-by-various/

A Short History of Scotland (1901), by Andrew Lang: https://librivox.org/short-history-of-scotland-by-andrew-lang/

The Scottish Chiefs (1810), by Jane Porter: https://librivox.org/the-scottish-chiefs-by-jane-porter/

The Scottish Fairy Book, by Elizabeth Grierson: https://librivox.org/the-scottish-fairy-book-by-elizabeth-w-grierson/

Links from the Internet Archive:

History of Scotland from the Roman Occupation (1901-07), by Andrew Lang:

Volume 1: https://archive.org/details/historyofscotlan01languoft/page/n7/mode/2up

Volume 2: https://archive.org/details/historyofscotlan0000lang/page/n7/mode/2up

Volume 3: https://archive.org/details/historyofscotlan0003lang/page/n7/mode/2up

Volume 4: https://archive.org/details/historyofscotlan0004lang/page/n7/mode/2up

For the curious, Mr Lang’s Old Friends: Essays in Epistolary Parody (1890) [warning: I have not read this book and therefore cannot vouch for any objectionable content therein]: https://archive.org/details/in.ernet.dli.2015.470058/page/n13/mode/2up

Tales of a Grandfather (the original title of my Tales of a Scottish Grandfather) (1828-30), by Sir Walter Scott:

The First Series: https://archive.org/details/talesofgrandfat01scotuoft

The Second Series: https://archive.org/details/talesofgrandfat02scotuoft

The Third Series: https://archive.org/details/talesofgrandfat03scotuoft

For those looking for a comprehensive view of Scottish history, I recommend the Scotcast episodes in The British History Podcast, hosted by Jamie Jeffers, and The Scottish History episodes which are a members feed available on The History of England Podcast, hosted by David Crowther. Both Mr Jeffers and Mr Crowther are entertaining and detailed in their approach to the history of England and the British Isles.

[i] Sarah Glossom, Performing Jane: A Cultural History of Jane Austen Fandom, 2020

33 responses to “Look Out! My Nerd is Showing! (plus a Giveaway)”

  1. Regina Jeffers Avatar

    As 40% of my DNA is from Scotland, I found this piece excessively pleasing.

    1. Author Cherith Boardman Avatar

      Unfortunately, Ms Jeffers, as far as I know, I have no Scottish ancestory, but the Irish is so strong that two of my children were born speaking with a brogue. I’m glad you enjoyed my nerdom.

  2. Esther Madamidola Avatar
    Esther Madamidola

    This was so nice to read

    1. Author Cherith Boardman Avatar

      I am glad you enjoyed it, Ms Esther Madamidola.

  3. Sharon Bailey Avatar
    Sharon Bailey

    I am Scots and Irish and enjoyed your nerdish pursuits. Can you do the same for the Irish? Also mother was born in Wales and I find the Welsh just as interesting

    1. Author Cherith Boardman Avatar

      Oh, I can guaran-darn-tee you that should I ever write a story with an Irish element, I shall do the same there, Ms Sharon Bailey. I am 1/4 Irish, so that would be fun to me.
      I have already done some work on Wales, but I ended up tabling that story because it was too similar to another (excellent) story that was published when I was about 30K words into mine. I still have the research (true nerds cannot let our efforts go to waste), and the chapters – I hope to find a way to weave my favourite elements of that story into another one some day.
      You have given me ideas though for future blogposts… so thank you!

  4. Heather Dreith Avatar
    Heather Dreith

    I must read Mistaken Premise! Since my maiden name is McIntosh, all things Scottish call to me! Thank you also for the background on older Scottish histories…will check those out also!

    1. Author Cherith Boardman Avatar

      Though 1/4 Irish, I have always been a Scottish sympathiser, Ms Heather Dreith – as becomes apparent in Mistaken Premise.
      Lizzy is not a Bennet in Mistaken Premise but is, instead, the heiress of a powerful and respected Scottish lowland family. I hope you like the way I portrayed Scotland in the story.

  5. Glynis Avatar

    Despite my 66+ years of reading I don’t recall anything Scottish! I did work my way round several public libraries, but only the fiction section. I’m afraid I won’t start on non fiction now as my reading mostly consists of Darcy and Elizabeth stories. This is obviously why I could never write myself, a reluctance to do the research!
    I’m certainly looking forward to your latest book.

    1. Author Cherith Boardman Avatar

      In truth, Ms Glynis, I found there was a shocking dearth of respected, scholarly histories of Scotland for adults. Even after more than a century, Mr Lang’s remains near the top of the list for a comprehensive Scottish History. So many of Scottish History books are geared for children and consist more of the legends/ballads as conveyed by Scott. Some of this, particularly for the early history, is that so few records survive from before the early James-es, which would have been the fifteenth-century.
      And don’t worry about the reluctance to research, I shall gladly do it on your behalf, and as you know, my books are chock full of footnotes and references of all kinds.

      1. Sally Childs Avatar

        Sounds lovely read.

  6. coleen561 Avatar

    I haven’t had any luck with the previous giveaways, so I’m trying again! Thanks for the interesting article!

    1. Author Cherith Boardman Avatar

      There is naught wrong with persistence, Ms Coleen561. I’m glad you enjoyed my book report, and Godspeed to you on the giveaway!

  7. Vickie Avatar

    Great resources! Thank you

    1. Author Cherith Boardman Avatar

      WordPress appears to be glitching, Vickie. My response to you is below.

  8. Linda A. Avatar
    Linda A.

    Ah! My head spins just thinking about reading all of that. Your efforts on my behalf are greatly appreciated. 😉

    1. Author Cherith Boardman Avatar

      I am so glad that someone appreciates my efforts, Ms Linda A. LOL
      Most of the above I listened to on LibraVox whilst sewing or driving. I did consult Mr Lang’s History of Scotland from the Roman Occupation online, but I did not read the entire 4 volumes. As for Sir Walter Scott’s Tales of a Scottish Grandfather, I read those over a nearly two year period, a few chapters at a time. So none of this research was onerous, especially since I love that kind of stuff!

  9. Cyndy Avatar

    I find it fascinating the length that authors go to in order to research their books. Thank you for putting in all that work. I know that it will make your writing more realistic and interesting.

    1. Author Cherith Boardman Avatar

      I’ve learned several authors are like me, Cyndy: we justify our research addiction by writing.
      I was always the type who would run to my computer to Google something when I read Anything. (Hence, my self-proclaimed nerd status.) This tendency is why I tend to put in so many footnotes, sharing the information with any reader who shares this same tendency. But by using the footnotes, those readers who don’t NEED to know about King James VI’s of Scotland’s ascension to the throne of England, can keep on reading.

  10. Betty Campbell Madden Avatar
    Betty Campbell Madden

    I finished this story with a big “Wow!” I’d surely like a copy. Thanks
    I appreciated all the research you did.

    1. Author Cherith Boardman Avatar

      I am so glad you liked Mistaken Premise, Ms Betty Campbell Madden! It was both enjoyable and difficult, but in the best way, to write.
      Godspeed to you in the giveaway!

  11. Jennifer Redlarczyk Avatar
    Jennifer Redlarczyk

    My mom said her dad did the Irish Gig, but as far as I know, we were not Irish. Some day it would be fun to do the DNA test and find out. Best Wishes with all of your books. Jen Red

    1. Author Cherith Boardman Avatar

      I would love to do one of those DNA ancestory tests, too, Ms Jen. My grandfather was always VERY proud of his Irish heritage, but I had wondered if it was as strong as he claimed until my #4 and #8 were born with Irish features so strong, they cried in a brogue.

  12. Author Cherith Boardman Avatar

    I apologise for missing your post yesterday, Vickie! Somehow I didn’t see it – the joys of 51yo eyes. I’m glad you liked my small introduction to the books I used to gain an overview and flavour of Scottish history for Mistaken Premise.

  13. Julie McDonough Avatar

    I really enjoyed this article. It’s fascinated to some see the amount of research that some authors do for their books.

    1. Author Cherith Boardman Avatar

      As I said, Ms Julie McDonough, the research is something I ENJOY doing. To give a layer of authenticity helps place me in the setting, sparking my imagination. I tend to research things I read, too, just because I enjoy nerding out so much. I hope you enjoy Mistaken Premise.

  14. Cheryl Kepler Avatar
    Cheryl Kepler

    Thanks to you and all the other Nerds in the world! Whether in history, science, or fantasy, excellent research usually leads to excellent results, as it certainly did in “Mistaken Premise”. Loved it and will now re-read it for the third time!

    1. Author Cherith Boardman Avatar

      Wow! Thank you so much, Ms Cheryl Kepler! I am so pleased that you enjoyed Mistaken Premise! And I am especially glad that you like what my research adds to the story. I cannot see incorporating research into my stories changing. Godspeed!

  15. Glory Avatar

    Thank you for the links, I need to add them to my list to review later. I also added this book to my read list!

    1. Author Cherith Boardman Avatar

      I am always delighted to find someone who likes my links/footnotes/endnotes, Glory! My eldest son always argues against them, but because I am the type to stop reading and go look something up, I choose to add them for the readers like me. I hope you like Mistaken Premise.

  16. reeahree Avatar

    Hello. I heard from so many sources how good this book is and what research you have done. I’m quite impressed by your work, and I hope to see you write many more. Have a nice day!

    1. Author Cherith Boardman Avatar
      Author Cherith Boardman

      Well, thank you so much, reeahree! I’m glad so many are recommending Mistaken Premise – I will warn you, it gets dark in the third quarter of the book, but ODC triumph in the end. I have already started story #4, chock full of research as usual. Godspeed!

      1. reeahree Avatar

        I’m glad to hear it! I wish you the best!

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