Rhys Bowen, guest post
My friend Rhys Bowen has a new book! Rhys has been a buddy since, well, for a long time now, and since we’re both in the Northern California area, we see each other occasionally. Although how Rhys has time to do anything but bend over her keyboard, I can’t think—she publishes at least fifteen books a year (well, minor exaggeration) in three sparkling series. I invited her here to chat with you about Lady Georgie, penniless but 34th in line to the throne of England.
I’m so delighted to be a guest on Laurie’s mutterings this week as we each celebrated the birth of a new child last week. Not a flesh and blood child but a new book. Naughty in Nice, my latest Royal Spyness mystery came out on the same day as Laurie’s Pirate King.
Also by strange coincidence, we share similar heroines—young women from the early part of the Twentieth Century who find themselves part of the man’s world of sleuthing. I write two series with early Twentieth Century female sleuths and I am always getting emails telling me that my heroine could not possibly do the things I have her do in my stories.
Of course I am always delighted to prove them wrong. Even at the turn of the century, when my Molly Murphy books take place and women wore corsets, bustles, enormous hats with birds in them and were prone to swooning, they were not the delicate females that history would have us believe. Of course history is written by men. Their ideal of womanhood was a dainty little thing who blushed at the mention of the word “leg”, would not dream of showing an ankle and deferred to her lord and master in all things.
When typewriters were first invented, their operators, also called typewriters in those days, were all men. It was claimed that the action of striking the keys was too strenuous for young females. The real reason was that typewriting was a well paid job and men wanted to keep it to themselves. Those same females were bearing and raising great broods of children, washing clothes in tubs, beating carpets on the line with no apparent difficulty. They were also crossing the continent behind wagon trains, pausing only to bury their dead children and husbands along the way, before building new homes in the wilderness. They were incredibly tough and resilient.
So we know that women were strong enough to be detectives. The question is whether men would allow them and take them seriously. The truth is that women were doing absolutely everything, from traveling to the North Pole to discovering radium. In my Molly Murphy books we meet several real life women: Mrs. Goodwin was the first female detective on the NYPD. Nelly Bly was an investigative reporter who put herself in considerable danger, having herself committed to an insane asylum to report on conditions there.
By the thirties, when my Lady Georgiana is sleuthing, women were doing amazing feats. In England Amy Johnson was flying solo from England to Australia—the first person, male or female to do so, in a tiny plane literally made of paper and string. Young women from good families had volunteered as nurses during World War 1 and had to deal with unspeakable horrors in the hospitals there. They worked in munitions factories and drove ambulances. By the thirties they were racing cars, flying planes and generally doing whatever a man could do.
So women have always been tough. My heroine of Naughty in Nice, Lady Georgie, brought up in the rarified atmosphere of royal circles, isn’t afraid of much and has come through some pretty tricky situations. I have a feeling her stay on the Riviera will be no relaxing holiday….
So hooray for writers like Laurie and myself, for telling the HERSTORY as it really was.
Rhys Bowen writes the award-winning Molly Murphy and Royal Spyness mysteries and can be found at www.rhysbowen.com. She blogs at Rhys’s Pieces at www.rhysbowen.blogspot.com and at Jungle Red Writers (www.jungleredwriters.com)