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Trying to make Lord Byron fit: Writing about real people in fiction.

January 7, 2015

bryon comic

I have started my second novel in my Regency mystery series and, as I keep telling people, this one has a ‘guest star’: Lord Byron. *excited*

In my first mystery, I kept the famous people of the period on the periphery. Oh, I do a bit of name dropping: Prinny, Beau Brummell, The Duchess of Devonshire, etc. But that’s it. No one from ‘real life’ makes an appearance.

And while I base several of my characters on the antics of real life Regency people, my characters are wholly made up. Pure fiction.

There is freedom in this, I now realize.

As I wrote about in a previous blog, writing about a ‘real’ historical figure, especially one so beloved as Lord Byron, carries with it the high responsibility OF GETTING IT RIGHT.

I do not want mass emails and tweets from angry English Romantic Literature students berating me for maligning one of their idols.

So there’s that.

But now I see that I also must struggle with the constraints of biographical accuracy.

My second book in the series is set in late November, 1813. This date is necessary to an important plot point. I have no wish to change it.

However, Lord Byron, in his infinite wisdom, decided long ago to start keeping a journal on November 14th, 1813.

This journal is available on line.

(Yay! I get to read about the minutia of his day and can use it to make my novel more realistic. Yay!)

(Boo! What he actually does vs. what I want him to do do not match up very well. Boo!)

The day he was to meet my heroine (Friday, November 26th, 1813)  is documented as ‘a day missed’–so there is room for me, as a fiction writer, to play with.

However, in other entries, he mentions who he has visited or seen or dined with, so it makes one wonder why he would neglect to mention my character’s name. Her visit definitely makes an impression upon him. If it truly happened, he would surely write about it.

Of course, I am not trying to re-write history so much as present an ‘alternate’ history. An event that could have happened in Byron’s life. I want it to be believable.

So there must be a reason why he would not include her visit (and all that is to come after it) in his daily diary.

WHAT IS THAT REASON?!

Here is my current puzzle piece, the one I am trying to make fit.

(Writing a novel is very much like taking a jumbled up puzzle set with no picture box and trying to turn it into a cohesive, whole picture that looks like something-that-is-sort-of recognizable…)

Lord Byron, you rascal you. Already, you fascinate and frustrate me!

Oh boy. This novel is going to be extra FUN!

(You know you’re a writer when…solving these sorts of puzzles will happily occupy your mind for days…and when you solve it, it is a total rush!)

As to solving it, I am open to any suggestions from the crowd! Thoughts? Any one else face this quandary? *help*

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