Thursday, February 9, 2012

Heroes of the Past

I’ve been thinking a lot about heroes lately (yes, day dreaming like Anna said) because there’s a new one “brewing” in my mind. I know what he looks like already and I have his back story, so now I’m slowly figuring out what’s going to happen to him. And I know one thing for sure – the ladies love him! Since the story is set in the 18th century, however, that got me thinking about whether the ladies of that time would REALLY have liked him, or if that’s just my 21st century view of him?

Obviously, he has to be attractive to today’s readers, so I’m subconsciously adding details that would appeal to us. But surely, a handsome man would always be a handsome man? Brad Pitt looked just as good as Achilles in a little skirt as he did in Ocean’s 11. But maybe that’s just me ...? Because if you look at the sort of man who was idolised in his day, tastes have definitely changed!

I recently attended a celebration in honour of Lord Byron’s (224th) birthday and it was clear that he was the Regency equivalent of our A-list celebrities. Famous, handsome, sought-after and “mad, bad and dangerous to know”. In other words, a bad boy hero, just like the ones in romance novels. But looking at the portraits of him, I couldn’t see the attraction myself. I guess you had to be there in order to fall under his spell? Or was it his superb poetry that did the trick? I don’t know.

There have been many such men through the ages, the kind everyone seems to find charismatic and attractive. I tried to think of a few and came up with:-

Henry VIII, who was supposedly very handsome as a young man, although it’s kind of hard to see from the later portraits. Apart from anything else, the fear that he might chop my head off would probably have killed any feelings stone dead for me!

Sir Walter Raleigh – yes! Now here’s a man I think I could have fallen in love with. Just look at those bedroom eyes in the miniature of him, they’re decidedly wicked.

Rupert of the Rhine – I think I’ve mentioned him before and apart from being tall, dark and handsome, well ... no, what more do you want?

In Victorian times, maybe Dante Gabriel Rossetti? Another poet – hmm, maybe there’s a trend here ...

Going forward a bit, Douglas Fairbanks Jr? – no, not for me.

Clark Gable? Hmm, maybe, but he reminds me too much of George Clooney and I’m not a fan.

James Dean – yes, maybe, I like the motorcycle and bad boy attitude.

It is strange though, how different the tastes were. So who, from the history books, do you think you would have fallen for? I think Sir Walter’s bedroom eyes are definitely calling to me, so I feel another day dream coming on ...

Please come back on Sunday to hear from Liz.


  1. The poet John Dunne. I fell in love with him as an English major in college and haven't looked back. I have no idea, what he looked like, but the early poetry *swoon*
    "To His Mistress Going to Bed" is my favorite. Of course, he got very religious and a bit dour towards the end.
    Even then, still a very talented poet.

  2. Thanks, Jill - another poet! There's definitely something about them then!

  3. I tend to like frontiersmen, so... George Rogers Clark, as a young man in the 1770s. Artists renditions of how he likely appeared then:

    All it took was reading James Alexander Thom's novels about him (Long Knife, and From Sea to Shining Sea) to make me wish I could have met Clark (older brother of the more famous William Clark). He had his fortunes and his heart and his health broke, so the legend goes, and never married. He ended mired in debt for the service he'd given Virginia during the Revolutionary War, and looked after by his kin. Rather heartbreaking, I think. I've visited Locust Grove, his last home in KY, shown round the place by a guide who looked uncannily like George as an older man (the only contemporary portraits ever made of him). He stood next to the portrait hanging in the hall of Locust Grove and talked for a while, and it was like seeing the man himself. Surreal.

  4. How intriguing, Lori! Perhaps he was a descendant on the wrong side of the blanket? Or maybe related some other way. Love the red hair! And the name, Locust Grove, is wonderful too.

  5. It's a tough one to tastes change but what is clear that hasn't changed is the pull of a good mind...hence all the poets...


  6. I'm starting to think I don't read enough poetry! Must go and have a look on my shelves :) I quite like Edgar Allan Poe - hmm, dark hero material perhaps?

  7. I think Liz has it - the pull of a good mind. For me, it's the knowing intelligence in Sir Walter's portrait that gets me hot under my lace collar....