Friday, October 31, 2014

The Evil Marquess of Queensberry

Today, I want to introduce you to a historical man who in my opinion seems evil to the core.

That is of course, my opinion. You must make your own mind up.

I came upon him while investigating The Earl of Rosebery.

Meet John Douglas the Marquees of Queensberry.




Yes, the man who claimed the rules of boxing were his. Actually a different man, John Graham Chambers drew up the rules. But that didn't stop the Marquees of Queensberry from claiming them. One source says he placed his names on the boxing rules in exchange for 3 trophies to be awarded in the boxing matches.

John Douglas was a physical brute of a man who enjoyed physical sports far more than education.
At Cambridge, he showed no interest in anything but sports and left without a degree after two years. (One must wonder what he did to be sent down. I'm guessing he pounded someone of equal importance into the ground.)

From early on, all signs indicate Queensberry was not a nice man.

His wife divorced him for adultery after bearing 5 children in 7 years of marriage. Can you imagine the evidence and compelling reasons she required to get a divorce in 1887? The laws were heavily in the man's favor at the time.

Queensberry remarried in 1893 to a young woman but it was quickly annulled because the young woman could not arouse him. If I wrote her character, she'd carry a gun and threaten to shoot him if he took a step closer.

His inability to consummate their marriage was good, given he had syphilis which had been deteriorating his mental acuity for years. 

In 1894, he hounded the Earl of Rosebery, the Prime Minister, with accusations that he was having homosexual relations with his male secretary, who happened to be Douglas' eldest son, Francis. 

Why would a man publicly, in the Parliament, accuse his own son of a crime, punishable by prison time? In this case, it was probably due to jealousy and hatred for Francis. 

Whatever he did to those poor children in the first seven years of his marriage was sufficient for them all to hate him for the rest of his life. If I wrote a character after the man, he would beat, torture, and mentally subjugate his children at every turn.

Back to the real thug: While Queensberry lost his seat in parliament in many years before (1880-He refused to pledge allegiance to the queen so he was sent out) his eldest son, under the tutelage and support of the Earl of Rosebery, received an English peerage and was now a rising star in Parliament.

While a normal father would be proud of his son, Queensberry set about to destroy the young man.

And thus began Queensberry's accusations, in Parliament and to the public of an affair between his son and the Prime Minister, the Earl of Rosebery.

Then during a 'hunting accident' Alfred dies. The inquest claimed it 'accidental death' but one biographer believes Alfred ended the accusations that he and the Earl were lovers by putting a gun in his mouth and pulling the trigger. Others suggest he was murdered. 

No matter who pulled the trigger, I blame the death of his son on Queensberry. However, he blamed it publicly upon the Earl.

With the first son dead, the second in a wheel chair with polio, Queensberry goes after his third son who was unquestionably having an affair with Oscar Wilde.

Oscar Wild on left, Alfred Douglas on Right

Some suggest that Queensberry threatened parliament he would reveal to the world the facts about the Earl's relationship with Francis unless they forced the police to bring charges against Wilde.



The day after Oscar dropped his suit against Queensberry libel and the matter should have quietly ended, Oscar was instead arrested for sodomy and gross indecency. The first trial resulted in a hung jury. That the prosecutor chose to retry the case suggests Queensberry may have indeed had undue influence in the trials. 

Soon after the second trial, the Earl resigned as Prime Minister, then in 1886, he resigned as leader of the Liberal Party and faded from politics for awhile.

Oscar went to jail for two years, and Alfred was exiled to Europe. 


Publicly, Queensberry insisted he only wished to save his son, having already lost his eldest to this madness. But here is a bit from a letter Queensberry wrote to his third son, Alfred. 
 It began:

"You Miserable little creature"
He then claimed he had divorced Alfred's mother (even those historians agree she divorced him) in order not to "run the risk of bringing more creatures into the world like yourself.....I cried over you the bitterest tears a man ever shed that I had brought such a creature into the world and unwittingly committed such a crime...You must be demented."


To me that rages like man of hate, not a father trying to save a son.


Finally, at the age of 55 he died of a stroke, (no doubt while in a fit of anger).

He was cremated upon his death and very well may have been a man that no one mourned.

He was hated by the public in general for his anti-Christian letters to the papers and his reputation for thuggery. (He was said to beat people with a horse whip if they annoyed him.)

The Queen certainly wouldn't mourn the man's his death since he publicly refused to swear allegience to her.

He was definitely hated by the  former Prime Minister, the Earl of Rosebery.

He was hated by his wife and children, for very good reasons.

He was hated by his fellow parliament members for his outrageous outbursts and accusations.

In fact, he may very well died as the most hated man who ever lived. Even Hitler had Ava. This guy had no one that I could find.

A biographer, Linda Stratmann has written a book called The Marquess of Queensberry: Wilde's Nemesis that sounds fabulous. (I read the reviews) And it's possible she found someone who liked him.

Sadly, I can't afford even the ereader version, so I must make do with other resources.


However, from the facts I've collected, if I ever made him a character, he would be a 1st class villain for sure. In fact, readers would no doubt declare him over the top. No father could be this abusive to his own blood! But in this case, he seemed to be meanest to his own blood.

While researching Queensberry, I learned a great deal about his third son Alfred Douglas and may write a blog about him. I'm sorry to say, but he was more like his father than one would wish. It was a shame the first son, Francis Douglas, died so young. He appeared to be the best of a damaged lineage.
This is a picture of Alfred on the left, Francis on the right. And while neither of them had what I would call a good life. At least they didn't get their fathers godawful furry eyebrows.


Nope, I can't behave. Not even when I write about villians.


Thursday, October 30, 2014

Black Cats and Ballet Shoes by Iva Valentino



This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. The author will be awarding a $25 Amazon gift card to one randomly drawn commenter via Rafflecopter. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour. 






Gemma Mayfield feels like middle school is a lot to bite off and chew. School, ballet classes, and planning on how to get Trevor Davis to ask her to the Halloween Dance are a tough balancing act. On top of that, Gemma is convinced that her science teacher, Ms. Pruett, is a witch.


When things start getting fishy at school, Gemma knows that Ms. Pruett is behind it all! Students are getting spells placed on them and start to go missing. Gemma and her best friend, Izzie, vow to stop Ms. Pruett from doing any more damage. Will they be able to save Middleton Middle School from witchcraft?




Today when I came home from school, Mungo greeted me at the door. He does this every day. He was carrying his favorite little yellow ball. So I played fetch with him for a bit, because even though he is a cat, he will never stop thinking he is a dog.


When Mom came home just a few minutes later, Mungo bounded toward the door and started growling. He always does this. He looks a bit scary with his super black fur and yellow eyes. Mom had to step around him so she wouldn’t get nipped. I believe that Mom must have made Mungo mad when he was just a kitten, because he doesn’t seem to have forgiven her. I always try to stay on his good side as well.


I told Mom about what happened today. The conversation went something like this:


Mom: “Hi, honey! How was your day?”


Me: “Not so good. Ms. Pruett put a spell on me. She totally controlled my mind for like five minutes!”


Mom: “Gemma! I think we know better than that. Ms. Pruett is just a nice old lady.”


Then she went to the living room to do her yoga. I am convinced that no one believes me about this witch thing.




Iva Valentino lives in Arizona with her husband and their dog, Lupo. She graduated from the University of Arizona with a Bachelor’s degree in Biology and a Master’s degree in Education. She loves living year-round in the warm desert.

Iva spent many years as a middle school teacher, where she enjoyed doing fun science experiments with her students. She currently works as a science editor at an educational publishing company. She loves travel, yoga, and photography. There is nothing that brings her more happiness than a good dance class!




Website: www.IvaValentino.com

Blog: www.ivavalentino.com/blog
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ivaavalentino


Buy the book at MuseItUp Publishing, Amazon, or Barnes and Noble. (on sale for $1.35 at publisher and Amazon)


Don't forget to enter the rafflecopter!!!


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Sarah Ballance presents The Sins of a Few

Today, I have the talented Sarah Ballance
 sharing a bit about her book,
 The Sins of a Few.


Peep Rep: Are there any prizes? I love prizes.

Liza: Sara will be awarding a $25 Amazon or BN gift card randomly drawn to one person who enters the rafflecopter. 

Peep Rep: Super cool! So what's the book about?

Liza: Let's find out.


The Sins of a Few
by Sarah Ballance

~~~~~~~~~~~~~


  
Salem, 1692

The moment he steps off the boat and into his hometown of Salem, Nathanial Abbot knows the rumors about Salem are indeed true. For in the two years since he's left Salem—disowned by his family and seeking a fortune of his own—the town has changed. It is dark with discord and suspicion... and accusations of witchcraft. Now all that remains for him is the woman he's never forgotten.
   

But Faith Downing isn't happy to see Nathanial. In his absence, his younger sisters have ignited the chain of hysteria that resulted in twenty deaths—including Faith's aunt, to whom Nathanial owed his life. Yet through her acrimony, Faith can't prevent herself from responding to the man Nathanial has become, handsome and kind. A man who kindles something in her that speaks of sin.

“Tell me,” he said, his voice coarse to his own ears. “Tell me how I dishonor a woman when I chose to forsake my own family to pay my respects.”

The look of utter disdain she passed him was somewhat lost by their proximity. They were trading breaths now, as close as lovers. But their positions could not douse the venom in her tone. “You have hardly forsaken your family,” she spat. “Not unless you’ve pushed them piecemeal into the harbor, which is an event I dare say few would mourn. Do they not await your return, alive and well? That is more than anyone can say for my aunt and the remaining nineteen murdered…or the rest who died awaiting trial.”

Mid diatribe, her attention had fallen to his lips. He touched her chin, knowing that in doing so he risked the welfare of his finger, and didn’t speak until her liquid gaze found his. “I crossed the ocean and I came here first,” he said. Quietly. Fiercely. “Tell me what more I could have done.”

“You could have been here. You could have stopped them.” A single, heart-wrenching sob escaped from her throat. “You could have saved her.”





Sarah and her husband of what he calls “many long, long years” live on the mid-Atlantic coast with their six young children, all of whom are perfectly adorable when they’re asleep. She never dreamed of becoming an author, but as a homeschooling mom she often jokes she writes fiction because if she wants anyone to listen to her, she has to make them up. (As it turns out, her characters aren’t much better than the kids.) When not buried under piles of laundry, she may be found adrift in the Atlantic (preferably on a boat) or in search of that ever-elusive perfect writing spot where not even the kids can find her.  To learn more about her work in contemporary, historical, and supernatural romance and romantic suspense, please stalk accordingly.



Website: http://www.sarahballance.com/

Blog: http://sarahballance.wordpress.com/

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/sarah.ballance.author.news

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SarahBallance

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/SarahBallance34/

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4103362.Sarah_Ballance





Entangled direct link not yet available / author page@ http://www.entangledpublishing.com/category/sarah-ballance/

Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Sins-Few-Entangled-Scandalous-ebook/dp/B00NS3TEC6/

Barnes & Noble http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-sins-of-a-few-sarah-ballance/1120377365?ean=9781633751026

Kobo http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/the-sins-of-a-few

iTunes https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-sins-of-a-few/id921443242?mt=11

Google Books https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Sarah_Ballance_The_Sins_of_a_Few?id=77CTBAAAQBAJ


Don't forget to enter to win a $25 Gift Card



Friday, October 24, 2014

The Real Prime Minister of Britain in 1894

When writing historical fiction, there is a cautious line between fiction and fact. There are some historical people that cannot be ignored in my stories, yet even as I attempt to portray details of their lives accurately in my characters, at some point my assumptions of their personality takes over and they are characters of my imagination and are no longer the real person.  

Queen Victoria is certainly an example, and the First Minister, the Earl of Roseberry is another.

In my series, I take certain facts about the person, then create my own character, which is not the real person, but only a character inspired by certain details that intrigued me.

Today, I would like to share the real facts that led to the creation of my character playing the part of First (Prime) Minister of Britain in 1894.

True Facts of The Earl of Roseberry


Archie was a goal oriented Scotsman. Early in life he set upon 3 goals:
1) To marry an heiress
2) To win the Derby
3) To become Prime Minister

He achieved all three.
1) He married not just an heiress, but the richest heiress in Britain: Hannah, the only child of the Jewish banker, Baron Mayor de Rothschild. 
He described her to a friend as: "Very simple, very unspoilt, very clever, very warm hearted and very shy."  Clearly, he was in love...with the word 'very'. And in case you are wondering, they had a Christian wedding.

He was also hounded by the obnoxious John Douglas, the Marquess of Queensbury, who accused Archie of having a bi-sexual affair with his male secretary, Francis Douglas  (who had the misfortune to be one of John's sons). I'll discuss this Jerk in a later post. Right now, let's return to Archibald, the Earl of Roseberry.


Archie's second goal was to win the Derby.
Through his marriage to Hannah, he acquired some very fine race horses. With her money, he extended his stables. While he had winning horses in many prestigious races, he won the Epsom Derby three times: In 1894 he won with Ladas, 1895 with Sir Visto, and then after a ten year drought, 1905 with Cicero


His final goal was also achieved along side his first two Derby wins. In 1894, he became First Minister (Also known as Prime Minister) and held the title for a bit in 1895 as well. 

Can you imagine succeeding at such impressive goals? Thus, I made my  First Minister intolerably arrogant. But honestly, how could he not feel pride and arrogance? He had set high goals and achieved them beyond belief.

In real life, Archie's time as the First Minister was considered a failure and he quickly grew disenchanted with his position. He and his cabinet resigned in June 1895 and allowed the other party to take over. 

In the next book of my series, Archie resigns a bit earlier, and a fabricated minister not resembling any real prime minister takes over. This is necessary because the new minister is very bad and does shocking things that I hope no real minister has ever done. However given England's lack of protection of young girls, it is not beyond the credibility of belief that such a thing could happen. So in book 4 it does, but in real life there is no evidence that it ever happened. But it is an interesting tale of the difficulties when a man of power loses his mind and does horrible things.


But in book 3, I do incorporate many of the real Earl of Roseberry's astounding achievements into the story. However, my character remains a character and should be read thus.

And now I give you a scene in which Xavier & Archie have breakfast with the Queen:




Queen Victoria first acknowledged the First Minister, but only smiled when her focus turned to Xavier. “Finally, I am to meet Sherlock Holmes.”

Xavier’s jaw locked, preventing him from correcting the woman. Damn Doyle and his fictional character!

“Xavier Thorn,” the earl said.

The Queen ignored her First Minister and remained focused on Xavier. “I am pleased you have indulged me with this early morning breakfast. I wished to give you a more formal reception, but I was told it was inadvisable, although why, I cannot imagine.”

The earl’s owlish eyes fluttered in agitation, but he made no other response.

The Queen took her seat at the head of the table, nearest the fireplace and invited the men to select their breakfasts. One of the many servants brought her a plate.

Once they joined her, the earl to her right, Xavier to her left, she spoke. “While the earl insists I cannot recognize you publicly, I did want to commend you privately on saving all those young people from a life of horror and shame.”

For a moment, Xavier had no idea what she was talking about, but then he realized her error. “I fear you have called the wrong person to court then, ma’am. It is my partner, Victor Hamilton, who deserves the credit for rescuing the hundred servants. I was at death’s door at the time, requiring rescue myself. And due to Your Majesty’s willingness to send troops in to search for the lost servants, Victor gained clues needed to discover my whereabouts before I died from an infected bullet wound.” He then smiled. “So I should thank you for helping Victor save my life.”

The Queen’s eyes rounded at his words. “Well, that is most delightful.” She then glared at the earl. “Why did you not tell me I saved Sherlock Holmes?”

The earl ceased to eat and met her glare. “I was unaware of the connection.”

With a huff of dissatisfaction, she returned to Xavier. “Tell me exactly how I assisted in saving you?”

Xavier ran through the clues left in Dragons Cloud and how Vic had used them to find him in a tenement building nearby.

The Queen then repeated the story to the earl as a statement of fact, leaving no doubt he should have known it before.

Xavier had seen Archie burst into a temper for much less, but he held his tongue admirably. 
When she finished her lecture, Archie turned to Xavier and held up his glass of water in a toast. “You’ve trained the fellow most impressively.”

“He’s been exceptionally easy to train. He comes to the trade with natural ability.”

“Tell me about this young man,” the Queen demanded.

“He’s twenty-three years old, educated at Oxford—”
The Queen glanced at the earl. “Oh, that’s much better than Eaton.”

Xavier suspected she meant that as a jab, but Archie had attended both Eaton and Oxford.

“What is his name?” she asked. “Perhaps I know his parents.”

“Victor Hamilton. His parents died in a shipwreck as they traveled from their home in America to England. Madeline Hamilton took in the two children.”

The Queen frowned. “Hamilton…where have I heard that name?”

Archie stabbed a sausage with excessive energy. “She was a leader in the New Woman movement, demanding changes in estates laws and the right for women to vote.”

The Queen pressed her hand to her heart. “Oh dear!” She then looked at Xavier. “But the boy turned out all right, did he not?”


How shocked the Queen would be if she knew the truth. “He’s a very fine young man who has dedicated his life to helping others.”




If you haven't begun this fabulous series, now is a great time to begin.












Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Liza investigates Cherry Jubilee

In book 3, The Mesmerist, Xavier & Vic fall into a 'battle of the spoons' over a single bowl of Cherry Jubilee which results in their poor driver thinking they'd both been shot.

Cherry Jubilee was a dessert created by Auguste Escoffier for Queen Victoria for one of her Jubilee Events. She had so many events that there is confusion as to which one it was created for. 

The main ingredients is cherry and the liqueur Kirchwasser, which is flambeed. The original is said NOT to have been served over vanilla ice cream. That concept came a bit later but before Vic and Xavier fought to death for the last spoonful in 1894.

Try Rachel Ray's 5 star recipe for creating this masterpiece in 15 minutes.

It sounds much like the original, only you don't have to pit the cherries. Instead you can use a jar of bing, pre-pitted cherries. 

Here's the excerpt from The Mesmerist where Xavier & Vic fight over the dessert.





Once they were both in the carriage, and Davy had his instructions, Vic and Xavier sat side by side, as their spoons battled to death for Mrs. Yarrows’ excruciatingly delicious Cherry Jubilee.
***
When they arrived at Adelaide’s Lace, neither wished to leave the carriage to retrieve the flyer.
“You go,” Vic offered. “I’ll refrain eating while you are gone.”
“Not likely,” Xavier snorted and leaned out the window. “Davy, grab the flyer off that post.”
“Why can’t you get it?” Davy demanded.
Vic chuckled with delight. Finally, Xavier would experience what she had to put up with all the time from their cantankerous driver. She took advantage of Xavier’s momentary shock and outrage at Davy’s impertinence and spooned a heaping spoonful of cherries and ice cream mostly in her mouth.
“That is not your concern!” Xavier snapped as he discovered half the dessert now missing. “Damnation!”
The carriage wiggled as Davy climbed down and ripped off the flyer. When a second later, he opened the door of the carriage, horror replaced his petulance. “God Above! I’ll get you help at once. Why didn’t you let me know?”
Before Vic or Xavier could make sense of their driver, they were sailing full speed down the pitch-black streets. Xavier ordered him to stop, but he evidently couldn’t hear or had stopped taking orders all together.
Vic pressed her feet against the other seat to prevent from flying forward and her hands gripped the side to prevent flying about. “Maybe we should retire Davy.”
Already in a foul mood at having lost the battle of Cherries Jubilee topped with insubordination, his temper blew. “Davy will not be retired until he wishes it.” His hand flew out and gripped the side as the carriage flew about a corner. “I blame this entirely on you. He never gave me the least bit of trouble until you came and taught him your bad habits.”
“Then I’ll hire a second driver whom we can use when we actually wish to go where we request. Were the bloody hell is he taking us?” She was thankful she’d eaten the last of the dessert, since the bowl flew off her lap and onto the floorboards. Vic wiped her mouth with her sleeve and stared out the window. “We’ll be passing Scotland Yard soon. Shall I jump out and see how the warehouse watching goes?”
“Not at this speed. You’ll just have to gloat from afar.” As they passed beneath a streetlight, Vic noticed bright red cherry juice splattered her sleeve. She was glad she had several new shirts on order. This one would never be white again. As they passed beneath another streetlamp, she saw her chest looked as if she’d taken a gunshot at close range. Glancing at Xavier, she burst into laughter. “I know where we are going.”
“Where?”
“To Dr. Connors.”
As Xavier focused in on her as a passing light shown with the carriage, he understood Davy’s misconception. “For the love of God.” He leaned out the window. “Davy, we are not injured. Leave Dr. Connors alone and take us home.”





If you haven't begun this fabulous series, now is a great time to begin.












Friday, October 17, 2014

Bobbi Romans kidnaps my site.

Happy October Everyone!
I’m Bobbi Romans and the sometimes crazy always whimiscal Liza O’Connor is letting me kidnap her blog!
Its been NUTTY but I’ve several releases to mention.
Dead Man Rising
                             
      

Blurb:
The Society had come to hurt her. Planted a bomb
They failed.
He’d saved her and died doing so. Or so they thought.
He’d been buried and mourned over.
None knew ...  he’d only been playing possum.
*Available in BOTH Ebook & Print*

Buy Link: http://www.amazon.com/Dead-Rising-Swamp-Magic-Book-ebook/dp/B00NH7Q0P2/ref=la_B00BL7LXLQ_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1410960384&sr=1-4

*Come explore the creatures of the swamp...and discover a NEW breed of hero!*

Also, recently released and just in time for the upcoming holidays....

An American Holiday
                          

Blurb:
Ahh, Thanksgiving… complete with ghosts of holidays past. Those being humiliating memories of last year's revelry gone wild: jail cells, a tattoo and rose left on Kristi James pillow by someone she can't remember.
Toss in two brothers who, while loving, had needled her with vivid imagery on what might have happened during that fateful rendezvous at the local HoJo's. Seriously, what's a girl to do? She'd run like hell from Harpers Ferry back to her apartment and job in Alexandria.

She's praying this year's holiday ends a bit more traditional. But between exploding turkey's, cranberry fights, and the winter storm threatening to lock them all together for God only knew how long, she's fairly certain her Norman Rockwell hopes have flown the coop.

Adding another layer to this casserole of disaster, the high school boyfriend—who'd cheated on her two days before prom—returns, claiming to have made a horrid mistake all those years prior.
Amid all this, what has her heart flip-flopping is catching her best friend Simon getting cozy with his latest girlfriend.

Thing is, she isn't sure why its bothering her so badly.

Sometimes it takes coming home again... to discover how lost we’ve really been.

Buy Link: http://www.amazon.com/American-Holiday-Bobbi-Romans-ebook/dp/B00ODC88HI/ref=sr_1_14?ie=UTF8&qid=1413424073&sr=8-14&keywords=An+American+Holiday
*Also available in BOTH Ebook & Print*

            A Halloween Short--OUT TODAY!
                     Fangs  for Everything
         

Blurb:

Sabrina Miller normally loves fall, the upcoming holidays and especially the big annual Halloween bash. This year she feels itchy for something more, something different. Magical even. Might just be she’s hornier than a hound dog in heat during the longest dry spell she’s ever had. Though she has high hopes for the party, she fears the night might turn out to be no more than a dirty trick.

In a town where everyone either dresses as cheerleaders, football players or vampires, she spots him.

Van Helsing!

Van only intended on popping in to the party for a quick bite. But among the many sexily, scantily clad cheerleaders one woman stood out.

The Bride of Dracula, no less.

When the woman and her friends are attacked, Van knows he’s the only one with enough knowledge about the attacker to save them.

But saving his heart from the young woman fate lured him to will be another battle.

Sometimes in order to win the battle, one must lose the war.

Exclusively Available,
Shara Azod.com http://www.sharaazod.com/index.html
                  * Trick or Treat *
One winner to receive choice (ebook) from any of the 3 above stories.
Just tell me... what scares you most? Zombies? Spiders? Snakes? What makes you scream?

                      ~ Happy Upcoming Holiday Season ~
Bobbi Romans
www.bobbiromans.com
FB: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100006862743829
Twitter: https://twitter.com/BobbiRomans

YakPad: http://bobbiromans.wordpress.com/

Monday, October 13, 2014

Liza investigates The British Railway System

Today, I'm discussing the creation of the oldest and possibly the best railway system ever built.
Britain's Railway system.

And how did it get to become the first and best?
Did great minds come together in parliament and make it so?
Did the Queen foresee a future where trains would carry not just iron, but people?

Did someone realize the preference for people to segregate into groups of their own status and commute to their jobs instead of living close to their jobs?

Not at all.

It's foundation was foolishness, greed, & fraud, followed by opportunist and survivors.

After a false start in 1835, the English railway system began it's life in 1843, after England ended it's outrageous Opium War with China, causing the banks to raise their interest rates, which resulted in people putting their money in the banks rather than the economy.

Once they finally killed a great deal of Chinese and stole their ports, they signed a treaty and stopped the war, thus the interest rates lowered, and people sought somewhere else to put their money.

The word on the street was you couldn't go wrong investing in Railways.  

At first, it was an incredibly successful investment. And you know what success breeds, right? That's right: A flock of sheep to be sheared.

For only 10% down, you could buy a share of stock (the remaining amount callable at anytime by company) In modern terms, this is called buying on margin. 

Sadly, two things happened: 

1) The burgeoning middle class would not just invest in railways, but they would buy more shares than they could have ever bought outright, since they paid only 10% of the cost. They were assured the stock value would continue to soar to infinity and thus the other 90% would never be an issue.

2) Making a profit on 'margin' is hard enough, but impossible when Scam artists proliferate the market, which was the case. Mostly, because the Parliament made it easy.  While Parliament had to approve each request to build a railway, they did not bother to verify if the person requesting the permit had a viable business plan, sufficient capital, nor knowledge or experience necessary to build the requested railway. 

The only time a project got rejected was when a) no parliament members where invested in it AND the project was clearly a scam since it was impossible to build a railway in the location they wanted.

With such a low bar to jump, in two years, over 8,000 miles of railway were authorized by the Parliament. 


Chart Source: Andrew Odlyzko
Thus, a great deal of stocks were sold at 10% down and never a link of rail was laid for 20% of the companies. When they grew short of funds to pay dividends, they just called in some of the bonds and demanded payment in full.

It was the middle-class who bore most of the pain of these swindels. They would have no recourse, especially since one of the early 'investors' in the scam would probably be a parliament member who paid little to get in and made a fortune with the inflated stock prices.

Amazingly, 6,220 miles of railway were actually built, which means some companies were truly serious about creating a business and not just about scamming people or they were scamming people but built the railroads to provide credibility and increase the price of their stock.

Whichever the case, the rails were created.

In 1845 the banks once again raised their interest rate, and finally, in,1846, Reality burst the Railway bubble and stock prices plummeted overnight. The least savvy investors, the middle class, were also the least likely to get out before they lost everything. The companies would demand the remaining payments at once, and many a middle-class man went destitute in paying it. What had just been a small amount compared to the price value of his stock, was now an astronomical debt and a complete loss of savings.


Chart Source: Andrew Odlyzko
For the railways, the result was a massive consolidation in which the larger, stronger, real companies would offer to buy investors shares for pennies on the dollar. But pennies were better than nothing at all, so they sold, and these surviving companies acquired railways for far less than it would cost them to build their own. However, they did have to mesh all these railways together and that meant Parliament approved a great  many new track requests in the years following the fallout to the surviving railway companies. 

The consolidations continued until there were only four strong companies.

So who actually built England's fabulous railway system?

The British People who were conned into believing railways were a risk free investment and invested.

The incompetent Parliament who made no effort to protect the investors from scams and fraud and approved almost anything that was requested.

Or the savvy Railway operators who had sufficient funds on hand or loyal wealthy investors who provided the cash flow to buy out the majority of competitors who did not have the means to survive the bubble burst.

I believe the answer is a little of all three. Had the Parliament been more diligent in their approvals, the industry might have grown slower, with fewer peopled fleeced of their savings, but I believe the bubble would have formed in either case. It is very hard not to invest in something with such potential, that continues to soar in market value.

Once you have success in creating easy wealth, you don't want it to end. Instead of selling out and saying "I am lucky to have earned far more than I thought possible", you are more likely to say, "if I buy more stock, I can earn enough to own a house in a better section of town".

And you think of those who got in before you and had now accumulated such wealth. You wish to follow their footsteps. So you do...right off the cliff.

So in my opinion, the British Railways was built, despite Parliament incompetency on the backs of naive investors of the middle and upper classes.  I expect most savvy investors got out in 1845 when the banks raised the interest rates. If you look at the price chart, there's a small dip in the price then, which means for a brief moment, there were more sellers than buyers. But soon after, anxious buyers desperate to get into the game sent the price rocketing.

I would be very surprised if ANY parliment members still owned stock at this time. If they did, they were incredibly stupid, because they had to know the shaky grounds of these companies.

And thus concludes my discourse of how the British railway came to be.



By the time Vic and Xavier are solving crimes in England, the railway system carries nearly a million people/year. I believe it and the automobile are the reasons why London segregated so that people lived among other people of their own status, rather than homogeneous groups. 

Finally, the poor could move to lower cost areas and commute to work by trains in the 3rd class coach for only a penny. 
This is the only image I could find for 3rd class. It appears the railway companies didn't wish to take pictures of their lesser sections. 

The rich could move to wealthy areas with better lighting and policing, where the people they met on the street were their own kind, while traveling locally via horse carriage, electric carriage, or the automobile. And when traveling afar  they could enjoy their elegant first class sleeping car and meet others of their class in the parlor car and have finely cooked meals in the dining car.



Liza O'Connor is the author the oft humorous, romantic, delightful, Late Victorian sleuth series, The Adventures of Xavier & Vic.
Xavier is the finest sleuth in all of England and
Vic is a young woman who dresses as a man so she can do interesting things, like assist Xavier in solving crimes.
The Troublesome Apprentice

The Missing Partner