Church bells rang loudly in London last week when a baby girl was born to Kate Middleton and her husband Prince William.The world was told about the birth of the princess and soon the announcement came that the baby would be named
Charlotte Elizabeth Diana, three names that pay tribute to her grandfather, great-grandmother, and grandmother. The names are traditional, but the baby has been born into a new world, one in which females can inherit the throne of Britain even if they have a younger brother. Charlotte and her family are bringing several innovations to the royal family. Her mother is a commoner, but one who has adapted to her royal role with apparently effortless grace. When you look at history, you see that Charlotte is an appropriate name for a woman who will face a changing world and will be expected to adapt to it gracefully.
Queen Charlotte, wife of George III who ruled England from 1760-1820, was born in Germany and had never been out of her native country until she married George III. And talk about a short courtship—the wedding was performed the day after Charlotte arrived in England and met her future husband for the first time. As a young immigrant girl, as well as a queen, she spoke no English when they married but soon began to serve the crown by producing children. She learned English quickly and became a popular queen as well as a helpmate to her husband who was ill for many years. The Queen bore fifteen children, thirteen of whom survived to adulthood. Family life was difficult as the king had periods of apparent
madness during which he became over-excited and acted erratically. His sons and many members of his court were frantic to control his bouts of irrationality; Queen Charlotte coped with the situation better than most of them. In recent years, doctors have realized that the king’s illness was physical, but during his lifetime he was considered just a madman. Queen Charlotte did not have an easy life, but she adjusted to her new country and her stressful family situation and carried on.
When I decided on a name for the heroine of my series of mystery stories set in the 1840s, I chose the name Charlotte Edgerton because it reflects her life story as an English girl on the edge of the new world of America. The 1840s were one of the most tumultuous decades of the nineteenth century. America endured a great depression in 1837 and people throughout the country decided that the old colonial lifestyle centered on traditional farming could not last. Various experimental social groups sprang up—communal farms such as Brook Farm where Charlotte lived in Massachusetts—were popular and widely copied. Charlotte tried life there but discovered that the idealism of the Brook Farmers was not strong enough to keep out the forces of greed and discord that led eventually to murder. That story is told in the first volume of the series A Death in Utopia.
After leaving Brook Farm, Charlotte moves to New York City, sometimes known as Sin City because of the widespread prostitution and political corruption in the fast-growing metropolis. As young men and women swarm into the city to find jobs and prosperity they can no longer find on rural farms, they encounter temptations and a fast-moving world of entertainment and luxury. When a frightening series of murders occurs, Charlotte and her fiancé Daniel Gallagher become involved in trying to find the killer and stop the terror that hovers over the sporting houses of the city. This story appears in Charlotte’s forthcoming adventure Death Visits a Bawdy House, which will be published in July.
In future books in the series, Charlotte returns to England, but to a far different city of London where poverty stalks the grimy streets and revolution is in the air. Yes, Charlotte is a good name for my heroine who is observant and resourceful and manages somehow to survive and adjust to the complex ever-changing world in which she lives.