Please join me in welcoming Shana Galen back to Debbie's Book Bag today. Shana's latest book, Lord and Lady Spy features a husband and wife spy team in Regency England. Shana's guest post is called, "Regency Spies." The publisher is sponsoring a giveaway for two copies of Shana's book, Lord and Lady Spy, please see details at the end of the post.
By nature, espionage is a secret affair. This was even more true in the Regency Era. Undoubtedly, though the British employed many men, and probably even a handful of women, to glean information about Napoleon’s plans and strategies, these men and women have remained largely unsung.
One reason for this is that spying was not considered a noble profession. With the advent of James Bond, spying became sexy and posh in modern culture, but in the Regency Era it was considered cowardly. A real man fought his enemy face-to-face on the battlefield or on the high seas aboard a man-of-war. Cowards skulked about trying to ferret out information.
In reality, the role of the spy was extremely important to British victory in the Peninsular Wars. One reference I found helpful when writing Lord and Lady Spy, my homage to the film Mr. and Mrs. Smith, was The Man Who Broke Napoleon’s Codes by Mark Urban. Urban tells the story of George Scovall, an engraver’s apprentice who became the Duke of Wellington’s decoder. Scovall deciphered Napoleon’s Great Paris Cipher, which reportedly contained over 1,400 elements.
The interesting thing about Scovall is that he was a commoner. Perhaps this was why “spying” appealed to him. Unlike a higher born man, Scovall could not buy his way to a higher rank in the military. He had to earn it. He did so, eventually, but as was probably common with the British military of the era, he was also passed over for promotion many times.
Information about female spies is even harder to come by. I did find a book titled My Lady Scandalous by Jo Manning about the life of courtesan Grace Dalrymple Elliott. Grace was in Paris at the time of the French Revolution and an avowed royalist sympathizer. These sympathies got her in trouble with the Revolutionary government and she was imprisoned and barely escaped the guillotine. But these dangers did not prevent Grace from acting nobly. She saved the governor of the fallen Tuileries—the French royal family’s residence in Paris, which fell to the revolutionary mobs in 1792 and signaled the beginning of the end of the monarchy. The marquis de Champcenetz was wounded in the siege but managed to survive through extraordinary circumstances. Grace was asked to hide him and agreed, even though many of her household servants were revolutionaries and she knew municipal officers were scouring the city for the marquis and conducting house-to-house searches.
Grace hid the man under a pile of mattresses in her boudoir when the guards knock on her door. The guards told her to get out of bed so they may search it and thrust bayonets into the mattresses, certainly killing the hidden Champcenetz, but Grace—ever the courtesan—jokes with them, flatters them, and flirts with them. They allow her to stay in bed and Champcenetz is not discovered.
But this is not the end of Grace’s bravery. She also traveled to Spa, Belgium, which was a sort of meeting place for spies and couriers of the day, and ferried letters from the imprisoned Marie-Antoinette to the Austrian government, most likely pleading for assistance from the queen’s homeland. That assistance was never to come, but Grace certainly did her part to assist the doomed queen.
In Lord and Lady Spy, I’ve tried to make Adrian and Sophia worthy counterparts to the spies that inspired them. I hope you find reading their adventures as exciting as I did writing about them!
Do you enjoy books about spies? Why do we find spies so sexy?
The publisher is sponsoring a giveaway for two copies of Lord and Lady Spy by Shana Galen to be given to two winners from Debbie's Book Bag.
~ You must be a Google Friend Connect follower to participate.
~ US and Canadian Addresses only! (Publisher Request)
~ The deadline to enter this giveaway is Midnight EST October 12th.
1. In appreciation to the author please answer Shana's question in the comments (It is right before the giveaway details)
2. Please fill out the FORM.