Sometimes, being a writer of historical romance in the age of the internet almost feels like cheating. Every writer (??) researches, whether it’s by reading enough books in one’s chosen historical period to put together some semblence of knowledge about it, or by spending countless hours in libraries both large and small, trying to gather enough information to portray, with a reasonable degree of accuracy, the way things were.
I began writing GRACE long before I had the ability to access the internet and there are SO many mistakes. It’s impossible for me to read that book without cringing. By the time it was actually published, I did have access to more study material via my cumbersome old PC, but I still managed to miss a lot of little things. Now, a full decade and three and half books later, I feel as though I might finally have my thumb on this research thing.
Now I have sort of a reverse problem, though. Not only do I have my own piles of research available to me, but I have the brain butter of the entire world at my fingertips. Sometimes, I fall down the eRabbitHole of research and end up spending hours perusing the internet warren when I really only intended to fact check one or two things and then get back to the business of stringing words together until somehow a book falls out of my head. It’s a good problem to have. A first world problem, if you will.
My heroes and heroines occupy only the tiniest part of London, but I didn’t really have a handle on where they lived. Sure I knew the street names and even the street numbers of the houses in that very uppercrust world, but I only had word research and modern maps to go on. I had some older maps and some newer maps, so I could get a general idea of what it might have looked like during the Regency period, but it really wasn’t enough, to my way of thinking.
And then, to my utter nerdified happiness, I stumbled on the most wonderful website. If you’re a Regency writer and you haven’t found this, worry not. I’m posting the linkage. For that matter, if you write books set in England during virtually any historical period, I’m pretty sure you’ll be able to find some useful stuff here. Get thee to MAPCO, dear writer : )
What’s wonderful about this site is that all the maps are shown in their entirety, and then they’re broken down into sections so you can narrow in on what’s important to you. And that’s when I got my glorious, splendiferous, wonderful and fabulous idea: I would print out all the pieces of the 1817 Map of London and piece it together, bit by bit.
I’m posting some pictures of the result, because I’m entirely pleased with myself. Between the scans, my printer and my third-grade arts and crafts level of skill with scotch tape and scissors, the edges match up a little wonky and there are some areas where roads just drop off into nowhere (please mind the gap, as they say when you’re boarding a train) but it is rather accurate, for the most part, and this makes me happy. It now graces the wall behind my desk (although some might consider it defiling the wall, given the way it looks.)
For all you readers of Regency romance out there, go to the links and check them out. You might be able to find where one of your favorite scenes took place, or where your favorite character lived, especially if you’ve never had the pleasure of visiting London in person. Enjoy : )