Happy New Year!
The Cornish Dukes are behind us and it's time to welcome in the 2021 series, the Rebellious Sisterhood. The series features three female artists looking to make a mark on the world and live life on their own terms. Book 1 features Artemisia Stansfield, a woman seeking promotion to the rank of RA (Royal Academician) at the Royal Academy of the Arts. Set in 1820, right after the death of one of the original Academy founders, Mary Moser, Artemisia struggles to overcome gender barriers despite her talent. The second book, Revealing the True Miss Stansfield, features Adelaide, Artemisia's younger sister (March 1, 2021) and the third book, A Wager to Tempt the Runaway, features an itinerant artist named osefina Ricci who is caught in a bet between Artemisia and Sir Aldred Gray (May or June 2021).
The stories are set in Seasalter on the Kent coast. In this blog post I want to introduce to Seasalter as it was in 1820 when it was not much at all. It's primary industries were oysters and smuggling. It's the perfect place for Artemisia to escape to when she turns her back on Society and rusticates. I want to acknowledge the Blue Anchor Corner as a source I turned to for information about Seasalter in the 1820s. If you are interested in the site, you can access it here: https://seasaltercross.com/
Seasalter contained a few outlying farmhouses like the one Artemisia inherited from her aunt, St. Alphege's church, the Crown inn and a handful of fishing huts. The Crown Inn was later renamed the Blue Anchor, and it wasn't clear to me exactly when the re-naming happened, so I stuck with calling it The Crown for the series. I did embellish the town teeny bit with the invention of a bakery next door to the Crown where Elianora makes her delicious ginger biscuits on Fridays. But in truth, there was no bakery. Seasalter relied on the close proximity of Faversham and the larger village of Whitstable for what might pass as 'shops' in that rural area. There is no High Street in Seasalter.
Geographically, Seasalter is set in a marshy area that provides an estuary for birds. From Seasalter, one can see the Isle of Sheppey and the oyster beds are about a mile from the shore.
It was interesting to learn that Seasalter had relatively temperate winters. They were not tropical by any means, but winters had a mild quality to them (45 degrees and rainy) which made it possible for an intrepid soul to tramp the marsh, beach and shingle year long if they so desired. This is important to Artemisia who spend a lot of her time outdoors sketching the wildlife and there are several scenes where Artemisia and Darius make good use of the isolated outdoors in winter to talk over campfires bundled up in blankets.
Stay tuned for more weekly posts about Seasalter as we celebrate the Jan. 1 release Portrait of a Forbidden Love.