Fun fact: the heroine of Pink IX (yes, yes, there will be a title one of these days) was originally named Eliza. The reason for that? She was based off not one, but two historical Elizas: Eliza Monroe and Eliza Hancock de Feuillide.
Two very different Elizas with two very different stories came together in my heroine, Emma Morris Delagardie.
Emma was inspired by Eliza Monroe, who came over to France with her father, James Monroe, during his tenure as American Minister to France (1794-6). Enrolled by her parents in Mme Campan’s school for young ladies, Eliza became lifelong friends with Hortense de Beauharnais, daughter of Josephine Bonaparte by her first marriage. Portraits of Hortense and her brother Eugene still hang at the Monroe house, Ashlawn. Eliza was a bit younger than my Emma (born in 1787, Eliza was only seven when she came to France, as opposed to my Emma at thirteen), but if Eliza could come over to Paris with her father, why not a niece? Named Emma?
If Eliza Monroe provided the beginning of Emma’s story, Eliza de Feuillide gave me the next step: marriage to an older Frenchman obsessed with… proper methods of drainage. Jane Austen’s first cousin, Eliza Hancock, married a French “nobleman” (the title was dodgy), Jean Francois de Feuillide, whose primary passion turned out to be the drainage of his estate near Nerac. It was a worthy ambition, but not one to captivate a young bride. Eliza de Feuillide, fashionable and witty, was left in Paris while her husband focused his attention and her dowry on the drainage of Le Marais.
So here you have my Emma, product of two Elizas, niece of an American political figure, schoolmates with Bonaparte’s stepdaughter, a social fixture in Paris after an unhappy marriage to an older man with agrarian interests. At least, that’s the base of her story, the bit we know when we first meet her. The rest is entirely her own….