My intent is to allow the reader to walk down the lanes of old London (before it burned to the ground in the Great Fire of 1666) and feel as if you are actually there. You can smell and touch the nuances of London. You'll know what it's like to work your way through the City and its the conflicting laws where religion played in important part of everyday life. So sit back and enjoy the ride.

Oh, and then there's my French Revolution novel.

Monday, June 25, 2012

John Wilmot, 2nd Earl of Rochester

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While researching for my next novel, The Barbers (London 1663), I ran across a wonderful book titled, Rake Rochester by Charles Norman. In the Prologue, he states: "This representation of Rochester was neither fictional nor exaggerated. For, according to Robert Wolseley, another friend, he was, in real life, 'the delight and wonder of men, and the love and the dotage of women.'"

After reading Norman's nonfictional narrative, the above is an understatement. 

If you want to see a picture of John Wilmot, 2nd Earl of Rochester, please click on the below link. It depicts him crowning a monkey. I could not put it into this post due to copyright infringement issues...

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:John_Wilmot2.jpg

Unfortunately, I cannot use John Wilmot in my next novel, because he really did not come upon the scene of Whitehall and Charles II until later. Since my London novels deal with people coping with a year's current events, Rochester was touring the Continent during 1663.

Henry Wilmot
John was the son of Henry Wilmot, 1st Earl of Rochester. You may remember him as the flamboyant fellow who stuck to Charles II's side after the crushing blow at the Battle of Worcester. Henry was a king's man. He took part in the English Civil Wars with Charles I, then went on to support Charles II. During their flight to safety, Charles II disguised himself as a woodsman, and a servant to keep from being noticed, but Henry Wilmot refused. He continued as a gallant, atop his horse, dressed as a cavalier. It was the recipe for disaster. Charles II and he separated after a bit, both winding their way into exile where they met, again.

This loyalty sat steadfast with Charles II, and when Henry's son arrived at Whitehall, Charles II welcomed him with open arms.

At the time of John Wilmot's appearance, Whitehall was considered a 'bordello'. Charles II could not refrain from making love to an extraordinary amount of women. He often complained when his mistresses rejoined their husbands. He had women from the streets of London sent up to his private chambers.

John Wilmot fit right in.

He was a poet, and wrote ditties that annoyed the king. His lust for drink and women surpassed the king's. By his own admission, John Wilmot was drunk for 5 years. He was out of control. Some of the things John Wilmot did with his cronies were quite shocking, even in this day and age.

He was a Gentleman of the Royal Bedchamber, and watched Court intrigues. He stole the king's women, then wrote poems of it.  It forced the king to banish Wilmot from Court, but the king truly liked him. He could not remain irritated at Wilmot for long.

Wilmot never learned his lesson.  He "abducted an heiress, and charmed her into marrying him, despite the opposition of her family and the competition of powerful suitors." Once done, he sent his wife to the country estates where he rarely saw her.

He went into the poorest dregs of London, disguised as a beggar, a laborer, or a quack doctor and administered cures upon people.  He went to brothels, drank himself into oblivion and while standing on the balcony with his cronies, masturbated before London passersby.  

John Wilmot died in 1680 at the age of 33 after a life of ruthless disregard for any morality (according to Samuel Johnson). He suffered from various illnesses, which included syphilis. 

For more--very exciting--reading on the era of London 1660's, please find all my books at:
www.wings-press.com, www.amazon.com, and the NOOK.

I want to thank RAKE ROCHESTER by Charles Norman, Crown Publishers, NY 1954.

2 comments:

  1. Didn't Johnny Depp play him in the Libertine?

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    Replies
    1. I don't know. Have not seen the movie. Is it by Tim Burton? :D

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