I recently met up with lovely author Sue Wilkes in Bath. She'd been invited to a gorgeous afternoon out with Tim Bullamore (publisher of the Jane Austen magazine) and some of the ladies at the Jane Austen Centre to see Clare Tomalin's talk at the Bath Literary Festival. Sue and I met for lunch and had a lovely chat - we've corresponded for years ever since we did an article or two together on Jane Austen's Regency World magazine, but this was the first time we'd actually met. Incidentally, Sue had tea at the Jane Austen Centre afterwards - lovely treat. I've been there myself and highly recommend the cheese toasted sandwich!
I always enjoy Sue's articles and she has also written some fabulous non-fiction books. Her latest, Regency Cheshire is about that county, but filled with so much more, lots of fascinating stories about the era in general.
It was an age of unique style and elegance; the era of Trafalgar and Waterloo. Regency Cheshire explores the scandals, sports and pastimes of the great county families such as the Grosvenors of Eaton Hall. Their glittering lifestyle is contrasted with conditions for humble farmers and factory workers. The gentry and mill owners created elegant new villas and beautiful gardens while workers huddled together in slums with inadequate sanitation. The Prince Regent and his cronies danced and feasted while cotton and silk workers starved. Cheshire's rural tranquility was under siege; smoke belched out over the textile and salt towns. Stage coaches rattled through the streets; packet boats and barges sailed down the canals. The author traces the changes in the county's transport system and the effect on its chief industries: silk, cotton, salt and cheese. Reform and revolution threatened the old social order. Blood was spilt on city streets during election fever and in the struggle for democracy. Napoleon's forces were poised to invade - but Cheshire troops battled their own countrymen instead of marauding Frenchmen. Balls and bear-baiting; highwaymen and hangings; riots and reform: Regency Cheshire tells the story of county life during the age of Beau Brummell, Walter Scott and Jane Austen.
Read more about Sue and her books on her blog