Have you ever wondered whether the idealized, unreachable beloved of the great classic poets really existed? What they were like in their everyday life? If they were really extraordinary or were made such by the magic created through words by the men they were loved and admired by? Michael Brown transformed one of those ideal figures, William Wordsworth's Lucy, into a real blood and flesh character in his historical novel. In William & Lucy he has created a passionate love story between the great Romantic poet, William Wordsworth, and Lucy, the beautiful girl to whom he dedicated a few of his most famous poems. Read my interview with Michael Brown.
William & Lucy is a tale of mystery and love inspired to William Wordsworth’s so called Lucy poems. Who was the woman the poet dedicated his poems to? Did she really exist?
All historical references to the Lucy of Wordsworth’s five LUCY poems are ambigious; there is no recorded history of such a young woman. Some scholars belive Lucy was the embodiement of William’s sister, Dorothy. There are other speculations but that is all they remain. I took the literary license to creat a fictionalized version of Lucy; hoping it might ring true to the story.
She dwelt among the untrodden ways
Beside the springs of Dove
A Maid whom there were none to praise
And very few to love …
What do those lines from Wordsworth’s “She dwelt among the untrodden ways” become in your tale?
The poem describes a woman who lived in a rural setting far from busy cities. Lucy, living in this rural enviornment, had very few opportunities to dream of advancment or of finding love. After she meets William we learn of her hopes and desires as she fights to better herself.
What is the main inspiration for your Lucy? What kind of heroine is she?
‘She Dwelt Among the Untrodden Ways’ is one of my favorite poems and this young woman, portrayed by Wordsworth’s poem was an opportunity to bring a literary mystery to life. As a heroine she has the curage and strength of character to fight off her lacivious employer and a strong dedication to rise above her station in life. He goal is to make something of herself—very challenaging for a woman in 1798.
What is William Wordsworth , the hero of your novel, like instead? What does he keep of the dour figure in history books and in the portraits?
We meet William at the age of twnety-eight when, as history tells us, he was a handsome, verile young firebrand, politically outspoken and a rebellous poet. His poerty offended the proponents of Classical Poerty. Many critics called his compositions, written mostly for the common man, mere ‘doggeral’. Why no one has portrayed him in his earlier years is another mystery.
What about his years in France at the time of French Revolution? And what about the love story with Annette Vallon, from whom he had a daughter, Caroline? Are these autobiographical events part of your book somehow?
Yes, they are a small part of my novel, but only as a referall when William confesses his rather wild past to Lucy. He explains that while traveling in France at the age of twenty-one he met Annette Vallon, aged twenty-five, and fathered a child, Caroline. He tells Lucy one of the reasons adding to his financial difficulites is that he sends money to Annette to help support Caroline.
What role has poetry in your book?
William lived and breathed to write poetry. His encounters with Lucy were disruptive and confounding and yet he never stopped writing.
What was the hardest task as a novelist while trying to give the poet laureate and his poetic creature the necessary flesh and blood ?
Actually it was rather easy once research proved young William to be a hot-blooded young man!
What was the most interesting, intriguing aspect of your research ? Did you discover anything about Wordsworth and his life that surprised you particularly?
His friendship and co-authorship of many poems with his on-again, off-again friend, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, was a fun discovery. But what really helped immensly with the plotline was the discovery of an Agent of the Crown, Geoffrey Walsh. He was a real character in history, who made it his personal vendetta to hunt down the seditious rabel rousing poet, William Wordsworth, gather evidence against him as a spy for France – and have him hung from the gallows! It was a marvelous find – thank God for research!
In your opinion, what are a historical fiction writer main task and talent ?
Number one task is, of course, research. The talent involved is to thread together characters and incidents fitting the writers chosen era into a fictionalized novel that reads like fact – wherein historical facts are not changed for the benefit of the writer!
What is it that most appeals to you of that the age you had to write about?
English history has always fascinated me and the opportunity to write about rural England in 1798 appealed to me as pure fun. I loved the research and learning about the times and people.
I tend to often dwell in the past, as a teacher of English literature and as a passionate reader/watcher of stories set in distant and different times. What is your opinion? Do the lessons we get from the past more alienate us from reality or more help us to face it?
We should learn from past experiences but history tells us its been a struggle. ‘Lessons’ are there for those who wish to learn. With education, integrity and tolerance for another persons’ differences and beliefs we may eventually become a better world.
Who would you recommend your book to? What is your target audience?
Historical Fiction readers, anyone who enjoys a good love story—and those curious about literary mysteries, especially one telling the heretofore untold story a young woman who became William Wordsworth’s mysterious love.
My last question is something I always ask authors in my interviews. I know it is not easy but, how would you present your “William & Lucy” in about 50 words.
During the Summer of 1798, twenty-eight-year-old William Wordsworth and his sister, Dorothy, two years his junior, were living in Alfoxden House, a short walk from the Bristol Channel, an arm of the Celtic Sea in the English West Country. King George III was on the English throne and his country was involved in a protracted war with France.
The end of the 18th century marked the dawn of the Romantic Era in poetry. William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge led the way with their book, Lyrical Ballads. One of the poems included in the tome was, She Dwelt Among the Untrodden Ways, written by Wordsworth. It was one of five Lucy poems he wrote, three of which are attributed to the inspiration of a young woman who may have lived in rural Somerset. Lucy has been the subject of debate in literary circles ever since the poems were first published. Wordsworth never revealed her true identity.
Who was Lucy? Where did she come from? Did she ever exist? No one will ever know.
This is William and Lucy’s story…
Michael Brown presents himself ...
Who am I? I’m a three-time Emmy Award-winning film editor with several additional nominations. I've sold ten teleplays to ABC, NBC & CBS. I'm also a member of the Editor’s Guild, ACE, the Director’s Guild of America and the Writer’s Guild of America.
My first novel “William & Lucy” is self-published available thru Amazon.com, Kindle, other eBook providers, and as a soft cover book through special order from Barnes & Noble. It won the 2012 Global Ebook Award for Best Historical Fiction Novel of the Year!
My second novel, ”LOVE, SEX and other NEAR DEATH EXPERIENCES” is a comedy. Published by Sunbury Press.
About the book - William & Lucy (A story that’s never been told)
It’s 1798. England is at war with France as 28 year old William Wordsworth meets 17 year old Lucy Sims. They fall into a love burdened by social prejudice, crushing debt and dangerous rumors that threaten to send Wordsworth to the gallows for being a French spy. Meanwhile, Lucy’s employer plans to seduce her and make her his mistress. William and Lucy’s relationship hangs in the balance, until fate steps in and ... their love becomes part of literary history. One of the most romantic poems in the history of English literature ‘She Dwelt Among The Untrodden Ways’ was written by William Wordsworth. The subject of his poem was a young woman named Lucy—she is one of literary history’s most enduring mysteries. Who was Lucy? Where did she come from? Did she ever exist? No one knows. This is their story… I believe William & Lucy will appeal to Jane Austin and Nicholas Sparks fans alike.
William & Lucy by Michael Brown is available from the following links: