Wednesday, 30 March 2011

The romantic hero and his appearance

Recently I asked in a blog discussion what a romantic hero's qualities should be. The answers came back : he should have integrity, honesty, courage, loyalty, compassion, kindness. In addition he needs a sense of humour and should be fierce and passionate.

How do we picture our hero when we write or read a novel? If we give him some or most of the above qualities, do we want them to be hidden by a moody exterior or do we want our hero to stride across the pages, straight-backed, fiercely gazing at his foes or merrily facing his troubles with a carefree front? Shall we add faults, weaknesses for him to overcome, a problem with his character, an unattractive appearance or maybe an external difficulty such as poverty to test him? And is our hero aware that he is a romantic hero?

Georgette Heyer had her tongue firmly in her cheek when she wrote in 'Devil's Cub' that the prim Frederick Comyn "cherished a love for the romantic, which the Marquis of Vidal, a very figure of romance, quite lacked."

It's tricky to give a precise description of a character when you are writing a novel. We all have our own idea of beauty and want to project that onto the hero in the story we are reading. Only Colin Firth has been [almost] universally accepted as Mr Darcy.  But we're each of us entitled to draw inspiration from the type of man we prefer - and isn't it a good job we all like different physical types!!
Here are some of the guys who help me create a hero for a story.

             Guess I rather like dark hair in a hero.... but notice I put Sean Bean at the top.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Stratford-upon-Avon and Shakespearian Delights

Anne Hathaways Cottage and gardens 15g2006.jpg

On a sunny March day a visit to Stratford-upon-Avon evokes Shakespeare and his times very convincingly, especially as re-enactors in 16th Century costume are wandering round all the local sites, and ready to chat if tourists want more information.

The garden at Anne Hathaway's Cottage had many herbs starting into growth. The orchard is prepared for the season and the willow arbour neatly trimmed at this season, although by summer it will be almost hidden by the waving strands of freshly growing branches.


In town, Shakespeare's Birthplace was full of guides in Tudor costume. They were all eager to share their knowledge of the period, whether in the dining room, where the table was laden with fine meats and a large round cheese, or in the parlour with its spare four-poster bed and spinning wheel. The making of gloves was demonstrated [Shakespeare's father was a glove maker] and upstairs we saw how a shelf could be drawn out from under the four-poster for the children to sleep on. Practical if not comfortable.

 Out in the garden, a pair of lovers held hands and talked earnestly. She looked very fine in her wide skirts, her hair braided under a sweet white cap sewn with pearls. He was as dashing as could be in his jerkin and padded short breeks, high boots, and his beret with its frilled edge. Ah, young love a la Shakespeare.