Rant: Don’t feel entitled to get titles wrong

Julius LeBlanc Stewart - An Interesting Letter
Warning: This is a rant. This is only a rant. If this had been a real blog post, you would have been notified. Please remain calm. It is only a rant.

I just put down a book because I was too irritated to keep reading. This is an author who’s written several books set in 19th century England, and she’s clearly done a lot of research into various subjects. So I cannot understand why she was so careless about getting titles wrong. I mean, she got one woman’s title wrong three different ways in three pages. That falls into “I don’t care” territory.

I know I sound cranky. But that’s only because this subject makes me cranky.

If you write a historical novel, you’re going to have to do some research if you want the reader to believe in your characters. So why not do a little research into titles if a) you’re going to use them and b) you don’t know what people are called and why?

Here’s a shortened version. If you’re a woman, unless you’ve been granted a title in your own right (rare), what your title is depends on who your father was and who your husband is.

Some examples:

  • The only way I could have a title like Lady Evelyn Hill is if my father had been a duke, a marquess, or an earl.
  • Since my father was not a lord, if I married a lord or a knight my title would never be Lady Evelyn:
    • If I married Sir Hugh Grant, my title would be Lady Grant. Never Lady Evelyn Grant.
    • If I married Richard Armitage, Lord Awesome, my title would be Lady Awesome. Never Lady Evelyn Awesome.
    • If I married Prince Harry (yes, I know, I know, this is just for the purpose of providing an example, work with me here), then my title would be Princess Harry, never Princess Evelyn.

If you ever feel the need to write a historical novel with titles, then please, please go check out this site.

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