The Things You Learn!

Easter Promotion:

All these books are on Kindle Unlimited, and they are all romantic. Many have an image of a hunky or topless guy on the cover, or else the heroine, because all are romantic MM or FF in some way. As you can see, my Guardians of the Poor is in there with other top titles. Feel free to click through, then click the covers to see more details of the books, and if there’s something you like, head on over and grab it from KU or get yourself a Kindle copy.

The Things You Learn

Right now, I am working on ‘Where There’s a Will’, the fourth Delamere Files mystery set in 1892. In this story, Will and Jack Merrit are charged with attending the reading of a will. Why? They don’t know. Where? On a remote island in the Bristol Channel. I have based my island on the isle of Lundy, famous for its lighthouse, but also, for so much more. To get there, my characters have to travel to a place called Appledore on the north Devon coast. They could have travelled from Bideford, further upstream, but their island comes with its own ferryman, and I wanted a smaller location for the ferry to leave from.

While I was looking at the maps, and reading up a little about the area, I discovered that it wasn’t far from a place called Westward Ho! I knew that that was also the name of a novel., and I couldn’t help doing a little research because the character who talks about this place is something of a know-it-all (it’s not one of the Merrit brothers) and I wanted him to show us he is educated and knows all about this area.

This became a question of what came first, the novel or the village?

Westward Ho! Google Maps.

Strangely enough, it was the novel. Published in 1885, ‘Westward Ho!’ by Charles Kingsley was set in Bideford, nearby, and its story begins during the reign of Elizabeth I. The book was a bestseller, and entrepreneurs saw a way to use it to develop tourism in the area. The Northam Burrows Hotel and Villa Building Company, chaired by Isaac Newton Wallop, 5th Earl of Portsmouth, was formed in 1863, and to take advantage of the Victorian’s passion for seaside holidays, they called their hotel the Westward Ho!-tel.

Same place, 1890s-1910 map

Here’s a small advertisement for it from the North Devon Journal, June 1865.

As if that wasn’t interesting enough, the village they created for tourism, they called Westward Ho!, including the exclamation mark, meaning it is the only British place name to have punctuation. There are others around the world. Hamilton in the USA officially changed its name to Hamilton!, and in 1986, in Quebec, Canada, you can find a place called Saint Louis-du-Ha!-Ha!

Ha-ha! Now you know, and you may well have known already, but I didn’t, and it’s just this kind of unusual thing that makes research such fun.

Now, I am getting back to chapter six of the new book, and will leave you with a reminder to have a browse around the KU promo I’m currently a part of and see if you can find any new authors and titles to add to your ‘must-be-read’ list.

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