Monday, December 28, 2009

Character conundrum - Elizabeth English

(spoiler alert!) As I try to write these chapters about young Elizabeth English, my mental image of her gets confused. After my research trip to South Carolina, when I knew her as an old maid aunt of colonial Camden, I pictured her as tall, aloof, light brown hair always tucked neatly under her bonnet. The sailors on the Hitchcock would have noticed her high cheekbones and lovely face.

I somehow forgot that vision during my research trip to Ireland. When I found out that a very young (14-15) Elizabeth ran away and married either a Catholic or Church of Ireland member, I pictured her as petite, with long, black, wavy hair and green eyes.

About this point, my friends usually say, Oh, you know everybody got married young back then. Not my family. Elizabeth's parents, grandparents and aunt didn't marry until their mid-20s at least! That may have been the Quaker influence and not necessarily what the general population did. I gather from the records that Quakers believed in choosing one's own mate as opposed to arranged marriages - but that mate had better be a Friend, and everybody and their brother had to approve the match, a very lengthy process.

Back to my conundrum. I can't seem to write these new scenes without my petite, raven-haired beauty. But practically, those features do not run in my family (except the green eyes), and she would have worn a modest bonnet all the time. Will that image fit into the second book, when she lives the hard life of an American pioneer?


George Taylor said...

You could always write it as a raven-haired character and then do a find and replace in Word. ;)

Beth said...

Thanks, George!