Welcome to my world…

200x2014_RONE_Final_anthologyWe think we know.

We have our small litany of names–Trafalgar, Waterloo, the Battle of the Nile, the Peninsular Wars–and we think that’s it…though what that it might be, well, we’re not quite certain…

It had to do with a splenetic little Frenchman, didn’t it?  An Emperor, wasn’t he?  He made France great…or did he?  And his wife wore great frocks…

Going further, we have our canon of heroism which includes Nelson and Wellington, and their fictional subordinates, men like Hornblower, Aubrey and Sharpe.

Or we may have arrived in early 19th century England, courtesy of the novels of Miss Austen, she who wove a world of pastoral and private contentment–a mirror of that green and pleasant land–undisturbed by the upheaval of the Industrial Revolution, unvisited by the vicissitudes of Continental life and the French Revolution or two decades of unceasing war.

And we think we know.  We believe we understand…But do we?  Is there not more?  Much more?

OHF_smallThe answer is yes.  Or a myriad of yeses.  So many, indeed, that they constitute a veritable encyclopaedia of untold stories–for from the blood-soaked ashes of the French Revolution had risen the military genius of Napoleon Buonaparte whose meteoric rise to power and domination over not just France but all of Europe was as blindingly brilliant as his fall was ruinous.

Indeed, the eye-witness accounts from Prussia, from Italy, from Austria and Russia during this period tell quite different stories from those with which we are familiar.

For over this brief period of years, from 1792 onward, as the tentacles of French Imperial power stretched out to amalgamate and assimilate all of Europe–from Portugal to Poland–into a French Empire (and woe betide all who resisted) these years of endless war, the first total war, the war which was until 1917 known simply as The Great War, these years too witnessed the birth of our modern world.

At least five (some say six) million people died during these wars and it’s likely that we’ll never know the full number of those lost.  Of that number, perhaps half were French or some 10% of France’s population.  That is a great many sons, husbands and fathers who never came home, a great many losses for any country to bear.  (What happened to their wives and sweethearts?)

And the refugees?  Whenever the colossal armies, swollen by mass conscription, marched into a territory–and they moved into Prussia, Saxony, Bohemia and Poland quite regularly–the locals wisely left.  They bundled their necessities onto carts and gathering up their children, headed for the forests, leaving their best belongings buried in the cellars.  If and when they returned, their village might or might not be left standing, their animals would all have been stolen, their crops trampled underfoot, their dwellings ransacked and pillaged, dilapidated and torched.

Imagine how much firewood was required to feed the cooking fires of 150,000 men over a course of months.  Imagine how much fodder to feed their horses.

Were there any trees left standing after the French army had marched through one’s country?  Any trees at all?  Any thatch left on the cottages?  (They fed thatch to their horses when grain was scarce.)

Picture every road in Europe clogged with strings of horses, turning to quagmire beneath the thousands of hooves and the thousands of baggage carts loaded with tents and saddles, spare forges and canteen equipment, carrying cannon and artillery, overflowing with food and drink for the soldiers, and the endless stream of troops, marching with their muskets slung upside down to avoid rain dripping down the barrels.

Only the British, armed with their highly skilled crews and well-armed and well-sailed wooden battalions of ships could hem in the Napoleonic powerhouse, and through the might of the Royal Navy preserve the peace of their own country.  (No marching French armies there!)

May 1812Yet even in bucolic Britain–allegedly far removed from the battlefields–all of life must be viewed through the lens of this interminable war.

Indeed, it confronted them at every turn:  Income tax had been introduced to pay for it and everyone railed about paying that!  The theatres provided a non-stop whirl of military spectacles to enthrall their audiences; the caricaturists had found the gift that went on giving in the fubsy Corsican despot.

English newspapers were full of reports of the Navy and Army successes and/or disasters, Parliamentarians raged and ranted about it.  Inflation was on a runaway course to the heavens; the manufacturers were unable to export to the Continental markets and many were ruined.  The Press Gangs roamed the ports; the Prime Minister was assassinated…

indeed, because of the unprecedented scope of Napoleon’s military triumphs and ambitions, in some way or other, it can truthfully be said that Napoleonic France impacted directly on every single European living in the early 19th century and for generations to come.

Yet amidst all this turmoil, Beethoven was writing symphonies, Byron was writing poetry, George III was going mad, and Turner was transforming art.

As I say, an encyclopaedia of untold stories…

This is the world I write about, a world of war and little peace, of battlefields and ballrooms, of wealth and want, the world of my novels, May 1812  (Authonomy Gold Medal in 2009) and Of Honest Fame.  It was tragic, desperate, shimmering with excitement and derring-do, inventive, beautiful, heroic, gritty and gorgeous, soaring and awash with tears.

Let me take you there.

Let me take you into their houses, into the House of Commons, onto the battlefields of Spain and Saxony.

CastlesCustomsKings_cover.inddCome with me on this journey from London to Paris to Poland and beyond.   Let me tell you their stories.  Let me show you.

Welcome to my world…

(Or, alternately, while you await the next installment, catch up with me and my latest work, Castles, Customs, & Kings–True Tales by English Historical Fiction Authors, a work to which I contributed several essays and upon which I worked as editor.  It’s a wonderful book and it’s full of the most fascinating and arcane bits of research from the early Britons to Regency dining and theatre!  And yes, I do love history that much…)

The books are available at www.amazon.co.uk or at www.amazon.com and do follow me on Twitter @mmbennetts

Slainte!

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79 comments on “Welcome to my world…

  1. Rebakai says:

    It’s a great website, MM!!!!!! Beautiful. I’ll enjoy checking it out in more detail. Reb

  2. Judith K says:

    Great website, MM. Pleased I dropped by and I shall be back… Jude

  3. Noelle says:

    Bennetts! I’ve joined the ranks of your blog followers. I can’t wait to read it all. *grin*

  4. Rudolf Pantz says:

    Very well presented page. Full of the colour and detail one would expect from such a great writer. Good luck with it !

  5. Drew Cross says:

    May I say that, having read extracts of your work on Authonomy, you have successfully achieved what you state above that you set out to do. Your work is extraordinarily good Mr Bennetts and surprised me in the best possible ways. Drew.

  6. Pete says:

    Well done lad! Now back to the stalls for a muck.

  7. Ray Jones says:

    Masterly as always , well written and so accurate I will be among the first to buy 1812.
    You stand head and shoulders above your peers.

  8. Janet O says:

    Hi Ray, Found you on Authonomy. This post is wonderful. I got drawn into this period through the Sharpe books, but your analysis of the impact of an assassination on a country is something only a historian can stumble upon through primary records and draw out. Thanks for the highlight.

    Will look at your book when I can figure out how to put something on a shelf.

    • M M Bennetts says:

      Thanks very much, Janet. I’m very pleased to say that May 1812–the novel featuring the assassination of Prime Minister Perceval at the centre–will be available for you to hold in your hands and read the old-fashioned way in another six to seven weeks…

      Cheers–MM

  9. Sue Russell says:

    May 1812 is a fine book and I look forward to owning a copy. I hope it does as well as it deserves.

  10. Found you, MM! So thrilled your incomparable books will at last be published. Malcolm Mendy directed me to this fact so do put me on your mailing list! I will always be grateful for all your help with my own work. The Crimson Bed is also coming out soon I’m happy to say.
    Enjoying your blog and will be back for more.

    • M M Bennetts says:

      Lorri, delighted to see you here! Thank you for that. The diiarts website will have info on signed copies if you’re wanting one–or at least that’s what they told me…I’m practising my scrawling my nom de plume meanwhile…ha ha.

  11. Right,
    Spiffy site, lots of info, and well presented.
    Well done.
    Will your latest be available in the U.S.?
    Yours faithfully, etc.

  12. Kat says:

    Greetings, wanted to drop you a note congratulating you on DIIA – great website.

    I’m blogging all this month about independently published writers, and would like to use your experience with DIIA as part of the blog.

    Let me know if this is agreeable.

    Loved the snowfall!
    Kat

  13. Garalt Canton says:

    What a beautiful website, MM. Full of bons mots and pensées. Why didn’t I subscribe sooner? ‘Cos you spoil us on FB.

    Here now and enjoying it until the laptop battery finally gasps its last.

    Garalt

  14. Hello, MM Bennett’s blog. It’s such a beautiful site (sight?) that I felt I wasn’t really worthy to post a comment. I don’t play the piano, I ride like an Irishman and write totally un-literary novels, so I felt I’d lower the tone of the establishment. And I have recently joined the jolly band of indie (aka self-published) writers who are a little non-u in the publishing world. But I’m having a ball!

    And I’m a HUGE fan of May 1812 and eagerly awaiting the next one.

    • M M Bennetts says:

      Welcome, bienvenue, and guten tag. I ride Irish horses because as everyone knows, they are the best. And I hope you find lots to amuse you here–some of the history stuff’s quite a laugh. Because what’s the point if it’s all so boring that no one laughs?

  15. Lilian says:

    A lovely website, with lots of interesting reading matter.
    I’ll be back.

  16. You have to laugh! Life’s too ridiculous sometimes not to. When are we going to be able to read the next one? I need another Bennetts fix!

  17. Speaking and writing at the same time? You’ll be telling me you can play the piano and write simultaneously next. I can’t but I can spell simultaneously without using a spell checker.

    I’m going to write a blog about books I love. Guess which one I’ll be doing first?

    Cheers,
    Susanne

    • M M Bennetts says:

      I’ll be honest, it’s doing my head in a bit. Because as you know, and as I’ve blogged previously, writing is essentially a solitary pursuit, a retreat from the world and all it’s distractions. And I don’t do it well when I’m emotionally anything–I have to be quite still. So if I’m meant to be gearing up for a lecture or a talk, or recovering from an encounter with an argumentative ‘fan’, the writing suffers frankly.

      The piano is quite different. Yes, it talks back. But nicely. Rather Beethovenly or Chopinly, if you see what I mean? Ha ha. So that only restores or in many cases, keeps me in the mental frame of a character.

      And you can just stop trying to make me blush, all right? It’s working. And no, I will not take pictures.

  18. MHM says:

    The men, and women, of that period were all you say, my dear. But for me one of the overwhelming traits amongst so many, was the great sense of duty and honour and love of country; values that sadly are not so prevalent today.

    Keep writing, Bennetts. Just keep writing and bring OHF to print asap please!

  19. I don’t care if I make you blush. I will be working on that book post later today. I just so loved May 1812 and was sad when I finished it. Thank Goodness it was good and long so I could spend a lot of time with Myddleton.

    In the meantime, you might like my article on why women can’t read maps… right there on my blog today.

  20. timqueeney says:

    Very sharp, well-designed site. Congrats. I love London historical sites, especially sites that have maps. My favorite London map is John Rocque’s superb 1746 map. http://www.motco.com/map/81002/ I used it to write my indie book, “George in London.” (Sorry for the outrageous self-promotion!! Hope its not too obnoxious!) Rocque’s map has fantastic detail and it’s fun to peruse as every lane, alley and mews is labeled. Some of the names are quite colorful: Bandy Leg Walk, Cock a Hoop Yard, Dunghill Mewse, Goat Stairs, Great Cock Alley, Horse-shoe Passage, Moneybag Alley, Pissing Alley, Scroops Court and Yeate’s Rents.

    • M M Bennetts says:

      Thanks very much.

      The background map is one of several in the British Library from 1812. I’m rather fond of it myself. And Jerry White’s history of London in the 19th century is just as full of fascinating names, places and descriptions–well, you’d find it heaven. I wouldn’t have written Of Honest Fame without it.

      Cheers–MM

  21. Rappleyea says:

    I’m obviously late to this party, but thanks to Amazon and the beauty of Kindle, I have just discovered your books. They are wonderfully written and researched. As a classical Regency fan and a fan of the spy genre, I thought I had died and gone to heaven. I read both of them in two days. I am awaiting the next one (surely we get to learn Boy Tirrell and Dunphail’s story) with baited breath! I am a fan and will be highly recommending your books.

    Cheers,
    Donna

    • M M Bennetts says:

      Thank you so very much.

      Gosh! What a superb comment to wake up to. I am so utterly pleased and delighted that you’ve found the website and found the books and that you found them to your liking. So very very pleased about that.

      Yes, there is a sequel on the way…well, another two are under way…or more than that. As I’ve done the research, I’ve found I’ve got material for more than I’d first imagined. If that makes sense.

      And thank you again. This, of course, will make me work all the harder…

      • Rappleyea says:

        Oh, happily, that makes perfect sense! That period is so very rich in material (in my opinion, not unlike the early 20th century and the two World Wars), and you make it so very readable. There is a lyricism in your writing similar to Le Carre’s that not only brings the story and action to life, but imbues it with a depth of emotion as if one had actually lived the events, not simply read about them.

        As I further explored your site, I read the question regarding manure. I’m doing some reader input for a friend who has written a book, part of which takes place in London in the last half of the 19th century. I know from her extensive research that horse manure, human waste, garbage, etc. were all dumped into the Thames, which lead to the cholera outbreaks. It wasn’t until the stench overwhelmed Parliament that something was done about it.

        And finally, (and I thought I wasn’t a morning person ;-) ) I also see that you are a cross country rider – well, come on down! I live in Lexington, Kentucky, horse capital of the world and have spent my working career in the Thoroughbred industry. Did you happen to come for the World Games?

      • M M Bennetts says:

        The very best reference–and a cracking read!–for London during the 19th century is the book, London in the 19th Century by Jerry White. It covers the transformation of the city over the whole of the century, (some of it quite eye-watering) area by area, and has excellent maps. I often work from maps–as the cover of OHF would suggest (that’s one from the British Library which came out, funnily enough, in May 1812).

        I’m so very pleased–more so than I can convey–that you enjoyed the writing as well as the stories. As for the living the events (ha ha), my family would tell you I have an 1812 face (I have to take their word for it, I’ve never seen it myself) from which they can tell I’m not in the room, I’m in 1812…Apparently I’m to a degree useless when I’m wearing this expression.

        I was not at the World Games, unless you count in spirit. We all were there in spirit, cheering on Mary King and William Fox-Pitt. But I do follow the Kentucky Horse Park page on FB and look longingly every time they have one of their adopt a horse notices. (Those are just cruelty to horse-lovers those postings are.)

        Again, I’m just so delighted you found the website, tickled pink that you enjoyed the books, and have given me yet another great reason to get cracking on books 3 and 4. Thank you so very much for that.

      • Rappleyea says:

        Thank you so much for the book recommendation; I will definitely check it out. Before becoming side-tracked by your two books, I had just picked up Jane Wellesley’s Wellington, A Journey Through My Family at our local bookstore. I think it’s had mixed reviews, but I’ll try it anyway.

      • M M Bennetts says:

        I’ve just reread Gregor Dallas’s 1815: The Roads to Waterloo, which is even better the third time through. Dominic Lieven’s book about Russia against Napoleon was utterly grand, because he’s the first historian I’ve encountered who seems to understand a horse-drawn civilisation.

        Haven’t seen that one about the Wellesley family over here, but then my reading list is always too long and I try to avoid being sucked into anything else…

      • Rappleyea says:

        High praise indeed reading something three times! More to add to my reading list. But while bare cupboards never worry me, I start to break out in a cold sweat when my To Be Read pile gets low!

        I thought your point about “thinking in old money” was very well taken. That is something that annoys me in Regencies or other historical fiction. Understanding, even owning, what it means to live in a horse-drawn civilization seems to me to be essential to writing about it!

      • M M Bennetts says:

        There was a great deal in the Lieven book about horses–where the best horse markets circa 1812 were, and why the loss of the 150,000 horses he took to Russia equalled disaster for Napoleon. Things which, for all I’m an expert in this historical stuff, I’d never considered. (Which sounds plain daft, but there you are.)

        I’ve actually been thinking for a while of spending a week on Sark, where one can rent a horse or a horse and carriage for the duration of the holiday, just to learn how much slower life must inevitably be if going somewhere always includes tacking up…There are also holidays riding the Highlands which I think would be equally instructive.

        I can’t comment on Regency romances because with the exception of those written by Georgette Heyer, they just don’t exist over here. When I did recently try to read a Pride & Prejudice sequel, which I suppose is kind of similar, it drove me potty it was so inaccurate–whis is why I wrote the blog about Austen, the Cash Cow.

        I can’t tell you how enheartening it has been to have you find my books and website. I really am going to go do some work now. Ha ha. *plotting…plotting*

      • Rappleyea says:

        Enheartening?? I’m honored! Truly. But until I read the implications of Napoleon’s equine loss in OHF, I never would have been able to put the numbers into perspective. 150,000 horses lost equals the number I’ve read of horses now slaughtered annually! So the number that stopped an empire, is now the number that we find ‘disposable’.

        A riding holiday in the Highlands sound wonderful! You might be surprised at how little riding actually goes on in central Ky. except for the events at the Horse Park and the races at Keeneland. It’s big business here and riding is not permitted over the farms. But horse racing and breeding have been going on in this area since the 1700’s, with the Kentucky Jockey Club (to govern the races) established in 1797!

        I’ve found that I don’t really enjoy Regency “romances” as much as I enjoy books like what you’ve written – Regency history that may have some romance woven into the story. My favorite Heyers are her historical novels, and I’ve read her research and history in them are authentic. She did six of those in addition to her romances and her detective novels.

      • M M Bennetts says:

        They reissued all of the Heyer novels, including the detective novels which had been out of print for years, over here about four (?) years ago. She’s a lot of Brits ‘secret’ pleasure. Ha ha. I think her ironic tone quite superb and she’s rather delicious on aunts and sisters and mothers too.

        The whole of the South Downs is horse country, but that extends as well into the west into Dorset and Devon. Plenty of racing stables, livery stables, horses just in paddocks, all of it. Some farmers do allow horses to ride the edge of the fields. And there are the hunts too. Probably your weather is pleasanter though.

        Napoleon was not himself a natural horseman, just as he wasn’t a sailor. So, his willingness or ability to factor in things that any horseman or sailor would instinctively include in their calculations and his mistakes based on that, also made him careless of the losses of both horses and ships. It’s this tremendous blindspot he has. Because he believes that because he’s Napoleon what he wants must instantly be provided, he can’t take in factors like a frigate doesn’t build itself overnight, nor have a trained crew immediately and you can’t spy out the lay of the land on the ocean and pick the most advantageous ground there. But he gives orders based on the idea that these things can happen because he wills it so, and the result is always a disaster. So, after the loss of the men and horses in Russia–I believe it’s about 500 to 1000 horses survived out of 150,000 and the survivors unfit for work–he gives orders for a new army to be raised with an equal number of horses. They seriously struggle to find the manpower, but the horses, that’s just a joke, and of course, those horses they do manage to requisition are wholly unsuited to the army’s needs and totally untrained and unusable for the cavalry.

        And yes, enheartening. It’s very, very rare for someone to actually tell an author they liked the work, or to articulate what about the work they appreciated. It just doesn’t happen. In general, for mid-list authors, it’s like living in a cotton wool void. One’s friends either don’t read one’s work (in case they don’t like it and then have to face you!) or if they do read it, they rarely say anything beyond, “When’s the next one out?”

      • rappleyea says:

        You gave me a chuckle at the pleasant weather comment. Central Ky. is notorious (as is most of the U. S. mid-West) for having extremes of weather, including tornadoes in the spring!

        You said that Napoleon gave orders believing he could will the results – but didn’t the French manage to raise another army of hundreds of thousands? And what about their calvary at Waterloo, which I’ve read (incorrectly?) was impressive? You have really, really piqued my interest in these facts.

        And finally, I have some experience with commenting from reading fan fiction, and I was thrilled to find your blog to be able to tell you how much I enjoyed both books. The ensuing conversation with Herself was a bonus! ;-)

      • M M Bennetts says:

        At the moment I’m studying the fall of Napoleon–that is to say, 1813-14. (And doing my head in in the process, I’ve no doubt.)

        When Napoleon returned to Paris in December 1812, within days of his return he’d given orders to raise another Grand Armee. (He carefully never mentioned what happened to the previous one which did strike some people as odd…) By March the few survivors of the Russian campaign were trickling home. Estimates of numbers of survivors range from about 30,000 to 7000. Few were fit for active service though. And it wasn’t just the men and horses that had been lost, the whole of the artillery was gone too, as were the uniforms, and anything else you can think of.

        So. Napoleon gives the order to raise a new army. His chiefs of staff boggle. He gets cross and throws things. They set about it and within a few months have raised a new army of recruits–those who should have been conscripted in 1814 had already been called up, the National Guard of 100,000 is also at his command and he creates The Young Guard (a sort of new Imperial Guard) in order to lure the French middle classes into sending their sons into the army, rather than buying their sons’ way out. So technically, he has an army of 250,000. Or more.

        But then, awkward things happen. The Prussian head of the army (with the army) defects to the side of the Allies; the Austrians say well, we can’t send any more guys and we’re broke, the Russians push into Poland…

        There are a few battles, namely at Lutzen and Bautzen in May 1813, where Napoleon triumphs over the Allied forces, but frankly at this point, he really can’t afford his victories, because the area of Europe where they’re all located, Saxony, can’t feed the troops. It’s that simple. They’ve had troops marching through their territory for too long and there’s just nothing left. Plus, now he’s facing three armies. And typhus is running rampant in his ranks. Plus, he’s trying to man all the fortresses along the Elbe to keep the Allies from pushing further toward France. There’s a long period of negotiations during the summer which yield nothing because he won’t budge on being European supremo.

        Then his army gets crushed at the Battle of the Nations or the Battle of Leipzig during the 16-19 October 1813 and he sustains as many as 73,000 losses, including 30,000 taken prisoner, 5000 German deserters, as well as the loss of 325 guns and 40,000 muskets. And the subsequent disorganisation of the French in the following two weeks as they withdrew–well, it was a complete mess. The army just fell to pieces.

        And by now, the problem of replacement troops is acute. He just can’t sustain the losses, he can’t really even sustain the victories and the number of cases of typhus is rising every day–roughly about 25% of his army have it. And they’re bringing it back into western Germany with them… It’s a nightmare scenario. And then the weather turns bad. Really bad.

        The best book I’ve ever read on Waterloo is by Andrew Roberts and it’s a slim little volume and really makes the whole thing clear. Much clearer even that those vast models like they have at the Winchester army museums. That said, I’m hoping to never have to write about it. Because I’d end up sounding like a complete prat.

        As to the French cavalry or the cavalry in general–I always refer those questions to my friend Jonathan Hopkins (he wrote a guest blog for me…it’s here somewhere…) because he knows a great deal more about the cavalry than I do. And obviously the best novelist writing about it is Allan Mallinson–a cavalry officer himself. His first book in the Matthew Hervey series takes place at Waterloo.

      • rappleyea says:

        Thank you so much for the information. I feel as if I should be paying you for the private tutoring! And more book recommendations to add to the list.

        Of course you must write about Waterloo! How can you not??? And of course it will be wonderful (prat indeed – harumph!) – I’m sure that subject could even encompass more than one book too.

        The subject of the Prussians changing sides also struck me as ripe material for you as well. One can only imagine all of the espionage work that went on in the background leading up to such an event.

      • M M Bennetts says:

        As to your last paragraph: Stop reading my mind. That’s just not on. Ha ha.

        Waterloo? Well, there are already so many fine novels written about it: Heyer’s Infamous Army; Cornwell’s Sharpe; Mallinson’s A Close Run Thing

        And when I started out, I was rather determined to avoid the ‘set pieces’–that is the battles–and I really wanted to focus on the stuff no one else talks about: the home front, the ginormous civilian losses, the atrocities committed by the French, the assassination of Perceval, the extensive pillaging, the espionage…all the stuff that makes this a world war or a total war. (Here in the UK, the focus is almost entirely on the Peninsular War aspect of the thing or the Royal Navy during the period–to the exclusion of all else.)

        That said, as I’ve been working my way through March 1813 (when OHF finishes) to December 1814, it’s dawned even on me that there’s no way I can avoid a battle scene or three. *frowns*

      • rappleyea says:

        My spidey sense tingled when I read: “…and then an awkward thing happened…”. ;-)

        I could see you doing the story ‘around’ the battles without actually doing the battle scenes. Telling it via couriers bringing information out, newspaper reports, soldiers that struggle back to hospitals, towns, etc. In other words, other characters getting the information or pieces of the information regarding the engagement. In effect, what you did for the Russian campaign or some variation thereof.

        Waterloo is an integral part of the story that you are telling, and you have the talent and the scholarship to do it justice.

      • M M Bennetts says:

        *Stunned and flattered, Bennetts rubs face and retreats to the corner…”

        Since I was, er, already planning to do the invasion of France from the Pyrennees and the occupation of Paris, after I complete this next pair of books…er…righto, I’ll put it on the to-do list…

  22. rappleyea says:

    The downside of having rabid fans! :-D

  23. Barbara Gaskell Denvil (author of SATIN CINNABAR) says:

    Dear M.M. – I’ve come late to your blog (story of my life) but now I have found it a delight. I know you principally from English Historical Fiction Authors, (I didn’t know you were on Authonomy – as I am) and your first book is already on my wishlist – but reading this I am clearly going to have to sort my budget – and buy it at once.
    I fell in love with Wellington when I was 6 and read Georgette Heyer’s “Spanish Bride” – and although this is not now my era of particular interest, (mine is the 15th century) the old nostalgia remains. I shall love immersing myself once again.
    Good luck with everything,
    Barbara GD

    • M M Bennetts says:

      Barbara, I’m so pleased you’ve found me and the blog. There’s lots of fun stuff here–most of it entertaining and possibly some of it a little informative. And naturally, I shall do my utmost to keep it so for you. Welcome…

  24. Barbara Gaskell Denvil (author of SATIN CINNABAR) says:

    Thanks so much for the welcome. Read the blog – bought the book – started reading – having fun. What more can one ask? Barbara

  25. Always enjoy your blogs, M.M. I have also purchased your latest book and look forward to reading it.

  26. Relieved that you kept to your original house styling. Well done.

    • M M Bennetts says:

      You mean plain and unadorned? I’m not very loco-rococo nor modern neither, so I’m kind of stuck with it actually. I don’t mind. It makes the pics jump out from the text, so that’s actually quite a good thing…

  27. candidmentor says:

    Recommended to you by your spouse, I am a late comer to your 1812 overture. Americans need to know this far-side transatlantic history, and your book is a good place to start. An American writer who penetrated a European era is George Garrett who wrote an Elizabethan age trilogy of novels beginning with Death of the Fox. The fox being Sir Walter Raleigh. George was the first important person to tell me that I was a writer, so I have been ever loyal. Garrett’s historic fiction was a landmark event in the genre when it was published. I recommend his work to you in light of your own achievements in the genre.

    • M M Bennetts says:

      However you’ve found me, sir, I am delighted that you have.

      My favourite author for the mid-Tudor age is the incomparable Dorothy Dunnett, who was, as well as being a great author and a great portrait artist, a great friend to me.

      I shall look out George Garrett, when I am allowed out of my 1813-headroom…though given that I’m meant to be writing book three, that’s not likely to be for some months. (Currently, I’m immersed in eye-witness accounts of the Battle of Leipzig…) But I shall definitely give him a read–I’ve always liked Ralegh, and have read several histories about him and his explorations…his poetry is rather fine too.

  28. Alison says:

    Hello M M Bennet! I’m writing a children’s book about a history event local to my area and am giving my main character an older brother who is serving in the British army. I came across your very informative website via a google search for information on what a drummer boy would have experienced during the battle of Waterloo. Sadly, the brother dies and I wondered if you’d be able to tell me how his family would have been informed and how long it would’ve taken for the information to get through. For instance would a survivor have stopped by on their way home to tell the family (as a folk song i found on the internet would suggest), would they have received a letter or would they have spent years not knowing/guessing? Any help you can give would be much appreciated.

  29. “M.M. Bennetts Literary historical fiction with an emphasis on history” was quite enjoyable and informative!

    Within modern society that is really hard to manage.

    Thank you, Rachael

  30. Jeremy Han says:

    Dear MM, a friend of mine shared your blog with me in Facebook, and now I am very curious about your books and those you recommend, like Lions at Bay. I’m going to follow your blog from now on as a good source of information on historical novels. Keep in touch!

    • M M Bennetts says:

      Good morning and good day, Jeremy. Delighted, absolutely delighted to see you and to meet you here.

      Should you have peered into my biog, you would have found that before/while I started writing historical novels myself, I worked as a book critic for the Christian Science Monitor for a very long time, and it was my good fortune to work under one of the most demanding and finest book editors ever born, Tom D’Evelyn, whom I admired most sincerely. His standards were the highest; he was so frighteningly intelligent that he scared most people witless; and I loved him for it. (And when I write now, I still imagine he’s peering over my shoulder–which may account for a great deal!)

      As for my books, I shall hope, very much, that when and if you read them, you enjoy them and indeed, come to regard them as great and favourite friends. Because that, to me, is the main thing.

      Best–MM

  31. nancz says:

    Woooooo Hoooo!! So pleased to have found you here! I love your books madly!!

  32. Petra says:

    Reading “Honest Fame” at the moment – like it VERY MUCH – and as I like to look up the places I found out the in my kindle edition the river niemen is called nieman (had to look up as I as as a German know the river by the name of Memel) – is it a kindle error (you nevertheless should know IMO) or is this the English way of pronouncing the slavic name and I simply find not dict which shows that??
    btw: no nned to publish but I’d like to know ;-)

    • M M Bennetts says:

      One of the great problems in writing anything set in Europe 200 years ago is that those territories have changed hands and names so many times since then, that it’s a case of what term does one choose? Napoleon and the Russians all considered it the River Niemen which ran from Tilsit to Kovno to Grodno in the south, forming the boundary between the northern arm of the Grand Duchy of Warsaw and Russia. And it is thus referred to in histories of the French invasion of Russia in 1812.

      Likewise, what we’d refer to as Czechoslovakia now was then known as Bohemia and was part of the Austrian Empire…

      I often think I ought to have included a map of Europe circa 1812 as an endpiece in the book and at the front of the Kindle edition…

      It may amuse you to know that at the moment, I’m banging my head about how to locate Lutzen and Bautzen…do I say Saxony and trust that my English and American readers won’t have a clue…Germany doesn’t exist yet, so I can’t say that…

      Also, English spelling of European names, at the time, was hopeless. English reports of the great battle in October 1813 refer to it as the Battle of Leipsick though sometimes it’s Leipzich and sometimes it’s something else again…

      Hope this helps.

      And I am utterly delighted that you’re enjoying Of Honest Fame. That just makes my day!

      • Petra says:

        Thanks MM – but you are writing NiemAn too , and my kindle always NiemAn, that’s what I was wondering about …. Bautzen definetely is in Saxonia!

        btw during my trip to Vienna yeserday I finished your book, simply couldn’t stop – what I will read now on my way back ?? When will you publish the next??

      • M M Bennetts says:

        Good heavens! That’s obviously a problem with the Kindle formatting. That is NOT what was written, I do assure you. I shall mention it to my publisher at the earliest opportunity. Crikey, that’s awful.

        You may enjoy May 1812–it’s softer, perhaps. Love story/war story mixed together.

        The next one is under way–the difficulty is always tracking down the research and at the minute I’m having a bit of difficulty tracing the footsteps of the Cossacks who harried Eugene Beauharnais from Russia through Prussia, eventually chucking him and the French out of Hamburg. I like to refer to diaries and eye-witness accounts, and there just aren’t that many. But I’ll get there. I’m tenacious, me. And perhaps it will help you to know that the next book will travel up to and include the Battle of Leipzig…

  33. Andy says:

    Come on MM, Of Honest Fame lasted about a week, May 1812 is going to be similar and now I’ve nothing to look forward to. MORE PLEASE !!! I admit with a sense of shame that I just don’t read female writers, I don’t like their style, I don’t think they can see through male eyes when they try. YOU have converted me, I CANNOT put your books down.
    Champing at the bit for the next one as is everyone I have recommended you to.

    • M M Bennetts says:

      Thank you! Thank you for that! You have just MADE my month! And the answer is, Yes, sir. Just as you say, sir. Right away, sir.

      Working on it. The problem has been that much of my research has had to be in German for the next book, which hasn’t made things the easiest. But it’s coming on. My word on it, sir!

    • Andy says:

      Thanks for the reply. (can we really call you M.M. ??) “Sir” is definitely not necessary, just an avid fan who will be keenly following your wonderful writing from now on !!
      Best regards,
      Andy

      • M M Bennetts says:

        Well, I answer to EmEm. But then I also answer to Oi Mush! and Plaguey Saucebox, as well as any number of things which I won’t repeat here. Though no doubt I have friends who would be more than happy to fill you in…

        Stay tuned, book number three is percolating…

      • Andy says:

        You Bet !!!

        A.T.B.
        Andy

  34. Stephen Carleston says:

    I have been sent to Lagos for a total of 3 weeks but, other than work, am confined to my hotel for security reasons. So I took the precaution of buying a Kindle E-reader before leaving my home in the UK. Mainly out of curiosity (I am a friend of BB on Facebook, though I’ve never met him face to face), I downloaded your two books from Amazon, and have enjoyed them both enormously. Thank you, and I’m so pleased to hear that another title is in the pipeline!

    • M M Bennetts says:

      Wow! Lovely to meet you, Stephen. And am utterly delighted you enjoyed the books. That’s just cream cheese icing on the red velvet cake! Thank you.

  35. maryraimescurtis says:

    Hi, I have enjoyed your site and blog so much that I nominated you for a One Lovely Blog Award. This is the only way I knew how to tell you about the nomination. To read all the info on and how to accept the award, please go to the following link, under the Home tab and scroll down to the award post: And congratulations.

    http://maryraimescurtis.blogspot.ca/

  36. World Tour says:

    Hi, It is a good post, thanks Holiday’s .

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