Welcome back to our online book club! Today's guest is author Maria Grace and the books featured are her JANE AUSTEN'S DRAGONS series, including the latest addition, Dragons beyond the Pale (book 7)
Of course there were dragons—that’s how I introduce Jane Austen’s Dragons.
How can I say that? It is rather a bold claim. I confess, you’re not the first person to ask me that with a decidedly skeptical look. After all, you’ve devoured ever one of Austen’s works cover to cover, multiple times and there’s nary a dragon scale from “It’s a truth universally acknowledged to… “With the Gardiners they were on most intimate terms…”
On the surface, I would agree, it seems that way. But, there is more than meets the eye. There a few more truths universally acknowledged that place dragons firmly in Jane Austen’s world.
Let’s begin at the beginning: Jane Austen was very likely to have been very aware of dragons.
Why? Because England’s history is chock full of dragons. Literally everywhere. Don’t believe me? Take a look.
Let’s start with Uther Pendragon, father of King Arthur. Then there’s Beowulf, of course, and the tale of St. George and the Dragon.
It isn’t a huge leap to believe that Austen was familiar with these myths.
But wait, there’s more! Lambton, the village outside Pemberley had a dragon: The Lambton Wyrm.
Then there’s the Mordiford Dragon who was cared for by a girl, in Herefordshire (very similar to Hertfordshire, right?) reminiscent of Elizabeth Bennet.
In my upcoming addition to Jane Austen’s Dragons, I was researching an estate in the north of England, Nunnington, so I could get some important details right. Low and behold, that research rabbit hole led me straight to a dragon!
Yorkshire Legends and Traditions by Reverend Thomas Parkinson, in 1888, recounts the lore of a dragon that terrorized a wooded area in the parish of Stonegrave, an area later known as Loschy Hill. The dragon was slain by Peter Loschy who died from the dragon’s poison. The brave knight is buried where? At All Saint’s Church … the parish church at Nunnington!
In the church there is a grave in the south wall of the nave with a carved knight effigy said to be Peter Loschy and his faithful dog. Even better though, historical fact tells us that the grave really belongs to Sir Walter de Teyes, who was married to Isobel Stonegrave who inherited Nunnington. He was lord of the manor, through her, and served a joint Governor of York in 1309.
Why is this better? It suggests (at least in this writer’s brain) a cover up—a convenient story to hide the truth of what really happened with the dragon of Nunnington.
Local dragons don’t stop there—this is just a sample of the dragon myths of Britain.
· The Dragon of Unsworth
· The Dragon of Wantly
· The dragon of Longwitton
· The Bisterne Dragon
· The Worm of Linton
· The Stoor Worm
· The Sockburn Worm (or Wyvern)
· Blue Ben
· Lyminster Knucker
What is more, these stories were passed down through oral tradition, both in story and ballad form until literacy became a thing. Once it did, along about the late 1600’s, those traditional ballad lyrics were published in “broadsheets” or “broadside ballads” and in newspapers. People knew these songs and stories and kept them alive through the ensuing centuries.
[image url: http://ebba.english.ucsb.edu/ballad/31321/image
EBBA ID: 31321 British Library - Roxburghe 3.626-627]
That means it is likely that Jane Austen was familiar with many of these dragon legends. If mash-ups had been a thing in her day, I’d be quite willing to bet that dragons would have been one of her first thoughts simply because they were so prevalent in local imaginations.
How might such a mash-up work? Consider: what if Uther Pendragon saw a real dragon, not a dragon-shaped comet? Would not others have seen it too? Well, no, not if the dragons had a way of hiding in plain sight that only a select few people could see through and Uther was one of those. Perhaps he might have founded an Order whereby dragons and humans could live together peaceably. Perhaps all those myths of slain dragons were actually cover for dragons joining that Order and ceasing from their terrifying ways. What might that Order look like in the Regency era, with dragons in the land and peers and gentry managing dragons?
So that’s what Jane Austen’s Dragons does, shining a light into the secret world of the dragons in Jane Austen’s England and the role they played in her works.
So, Of Course There Were Dragons!
I dare you! Come along and take the plunge! Take a chance on an entirely different take on Austen’s world that is truly in keeping with world she knew.
If you’d like to see more about this world, check out the new website: Jane Austen’s Dragons (JaneAustensDragons.com) or the series on Amazon.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Six-time BRAG Medallion Honoree, Maria Grace has her PhD in Educational Psychology and is a 16-year veteran of the university classroom where she taught courses in human growth and development, learning, test development and counseling. None of which have anything to do with her undergraduate studies in economics/sociology/managerial studies/behavior sciences. She pretends to be a mild-mannered writer/cat-lady, but most of her vacations require helmets and waivers or historical costumes, usually not at the same time.
She writes gas lamp fantasy, historical romance and non-fiction to help justify her research addiction.
She can be contacted at:
DRAGONS BEYOND THE PALE (BOOK 7)
Smugglers. A kidnapping. A fire-breathing fairy dragon? The Blue Order is falling apart at the seams.
After months in Bath mentoring Dragon Keepers and Friends, Dragon Sage Elizabeth Darcy actually anticipates traveling to London for the Keeper’s Cotillion. Which says a great deal considering the she-dragons who make up the Cotillion board would very much like to show the Sage her proper place.The she-dragons, though, are no match for what Sir Fitzwilliam Darcy finds waiting for him in London. Threats to the Order on every side, and Lord Matlock demands he keep them secret from Elizabeth. No one keeps secrets from Elizabeth.Darcy manages to keep matters under control until a fairy-dragon’s prank unleashes sinister forces who perpetrate an unthinkable crime that could spell the end of the Pendragon Accords and usher in a new age of dragon war.In the meantime, Anne and Frederick Wentworth arrive in London with hopes of finally being accepted in good Blue Order society, unaware of the burgeoning maelstrom about to engulf them.Can Elizabeth and Darcy, with the Wentworths’ help, restore balance to the Blue Order before the dragons decide to take matters into their own talons and right the wrongs themselves?
Enter the contest to win an ebook copy of one of the 7 books in the series at your own choice. There are lot of options in the rafflecopter widget below. Good luck!