10 Facts About


1. The title of John Matteson, Duke of Chatham, was inspired by the name of Chatsworth House, ancestral seat of the Duke of Devonshire (and the house used for Pemberly in the Keira Knightley version of Pride & Prejudice.)

2. Given the laws of primogenitary, intermarrying of families, and high contemporary mortality rates, it wasn’t uncommon for a title’s legacy to be entangled and often disputed when a peer died without a clear heir, as is the case with the Marquess of Dunwich. The Committee for Privileges was in charge of determining who would inherit a title if complications in inheritance arose, including if the heir was yet unborn. (They would also have been the ones to make the final determination as to the pregnancy’s legitimacy.) As the heir presumptive, Reynard Crenshaw would not have been granted the title until Emily’s baby was born, and then only if she delivered anything other than a live baby boy.

3. Anesthesia did not exist yet. Both Thomas and Grey would have been conscious when the surgeons were digging out the balls and sewing them up. Had Grey’s leg needed to be amputated, they would have sawed it off while he was still conscious.

4. Snowden Hall was modeled after a Yorkshire farmhouse whose picture I found on a York real estate webpage. (Yours for only £1,500,000.)

5. Grey comes from the made-up village of Trovesbury, a play on words of a where a treasure trove would have been buried.

6. When Grey was shot in the war, he was lucky to be cavalryman who could ride his horse behind the lines to the surgeons, as battle field hospitals had not yet been invented and the surgeons could be located as far as ten miles behind the lines. This description comes from an early draft of the novel: “Most men struck down in battle were left to die on the field where they fell. Head and gut wounds were never treated, only men with arm and leg injuries. Even then, the nearest surgeons were often miles—sometimes days—away, and the wounded were simply tossed into backs of carts in piles to be rolled to whatever shack or barn the surgeons used. Most of the injured died before they got that far, and those that made it often wished they hadn’t. Some surgeons took up to half an hour to amputate a leg, and of those men who made it through the amputation, half died from gangrene when the cuttings turned septic.”

7. Women could be artists at this time, as Emily dreams of being, but they were very rare. (Although I made her an artist, I cannot draw at all except for sickly looking stick figures.)

8. The baby is named Stephen after Edward’s brother in DUKES ARE FOREVER, who in turn was named after King Stephen, who snatched the crown from Empress Matilda and reigned from 1135 – 1154 during a period of civil war known as the Anarchy.

9. The name of the drug used to incapacitate Emily is not mentioned in the novel, but it was envisioned as a form of laudanum.

10. The man who shot Thomas was hung at Tyburn Hill, and the swiftness of his execution was not unusual; a man who was arrested for a serious crime, such as assaulting or robbing a peer, would usually have been hung within one week of his trial. Although Tyburn was no longer used as a public execution site in the 19th century, in favor of hangings at Newgate Prison, the historical legacy of the site was too rich to resist in the novel.

© 2019 by Anna Harrington