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Just Chatting

From Janet - After several infuriating attempts to recover a reader's message which I accidentally deleted I've answered the question here in the hope she sees it. The message arrived Fri 25 July from, I believe, Anne who read White Rose Rebel with her bookgroup. My wholehearted apologies if she reads this. I meant to reply not delete.

WARNING - This page contains spoilers so is better read only after reading White Rose Rebel.

2008 July 25. Readers often ask if some event in White Rose Rebel happened. Nine times out of ten, the answer is yes. But that would be no excuse for including it. Events in a novel work towards fictional truth. If they don't, they shouldn't be there. Interestingly, nobody ever asks the same question about my contemporary fiction. Facts are slippery things which can be twisted to say anything. No two histories agree, except on a few basics. Like novels, they reflect the author's attitudes, beliefs, manners and politics, and those of the period they're written in. I can't unpick my work. That would destroy it. But I'll try to answer some of the questions readers ask on here.

Characters A few are invented - the people history rarely records except as casualties or crowds. Some are created from two or more real people, and usually have the correct name of one of them. Most are historical people, but they're fictional representations, their personalities based on real actions but with fuller lives than bare recorded facts allow. I kept one in the story for longer than he was involved, and killed one who didn't die, and I did so for the sake of the novel so that it would satisfy as a novel should and life often doesn't. That's why we have stories.

Sexuality Many 18th century books and letters tell of male and female promiscuity, before and during marriage, on both sides of the border. Molly houses in London facilitated homosexual needs and Henry Fielding's 'The Female Husband' published in 1746, the year of Culloden, is based on a real case where a female transvestite duped another woman into marriage. Fielding's 1749 'The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling' is set during the Rising. The Squire is Jacobite. Tom was Hanovarian, briefly a soldier in that army. He's seduced by many women, from servants to nobility, single and married. The lusty Lady Bellaston has at least two pre-marital affairs.

Robert Burns 1759-96 was also seduced by several women, and he wrote both movingly and bawdily about their charms. He also wrote scathingly of the ritual humiliation inflicted by the Kirk as it tried to reduce pre-marital sex and ensure every bastard child knew its father. So, unsurprisingly, nothing is new. 18th century people did what people do in every era. I hope, compared to novels from that period, no one finds White Rose Rebel tame. Anne might well have had more lovers, as some sources allege.

Question Is there evidence that Anne and MacGillivray were lovers?

Answer a) Yes. Several histories record that Anne and MacGillivray were lovers before she married, and that she broke his heart by choosing another husband. b) Various people who knew Anne during the Rising wrote of her extra-marital affair as if it was a well-known fact. Here are some extracts from a few of the eye-witness accounts:

Alexander Brodie writing to Lord Loudon 1746 - “had I intended to have sent them to the Lady MacIntosh and her friends I knew no safer method of conveying intelligence to her ladyship than under cover to her Lover then at Moy Hall.” Note - this 'Lover' might have been anyone, of course. Two things seem certain. He's not Brodie or Loudon.

Marquis d'Eguilles, King Louis' representative who was with the Jacobites, writing about Anne - “She loved her husband hopelessly, whom she hoped for a long time to win for the Prince; but, understanding at last that he was engaged with the President to serve the House of Hanover, she wished no longer to see him. She did not stop there; she raised a party of her tenants, at the head of which she placed a very handsome cousin, who, up till then, had loved her without return. Mackintosh was obliged to leave his bed, his house and his lands.” Note - the 'handsome cousin' is MacGillivray, and it seems his unrequited love is now returned.

Henry Seymour Conway, an officer in the government army, writing about Anne in a letter to Walpole - “she has suffered no further confinement than that of being obliged to live with her laird, which I believe with the addition of two lovers that visit her constantly, the poor woman finds grievous enough… She was said to be the first in the good graces of the young gentleman, but I believe had only a name of it, for he is generally reckoned quite indifferent to women, and I believe a true Italian in all respects. Her favoured lover seems to have been one Macgillivra, whom she laments much (he was killed in the battle), and asks if he did not make a fine corpse?” Note - a husband and four lovers would make her a very busy lady but, among the gossip, he confirms other writers who mention Anne's affair with MacGillivray during the campaign. The 'young gentleman' is, of course, the Prince.

So, there you have some of the detective work. Maybe the Victorian era is responsible for any current belief that past people were sexually repressed but, remember, they were so conscious of their passions even piano legs were considered capabable of causing arousal. The only difference in sexual activity I've found is that, in some eras and societies, people were expected to be ashamed of it, and in others they were not.

Postscript - The Kirk's well-intentioned efforts to ensure responsible parentage led to abandoned babies, often found drowned in rivers, born to unmarried girls who hid their pregnancies. When condemnation ceased, those babies lived.

replies_to_reader_s_questions.txt · Last modified: 2013/06/16 14:22 (external edit)