Rosie Amber's Reviews > A Georgian Heroine: The Intriguing Life of Rachel Charlotte Williams Biggs

A Georgian Heroine by Joanne Major
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bookshelves: biography, non-fiction

A Georgian Heroine: The Intriguing Life Of Rachel Charlotte Williams Biggs is a biography of an unsung heroine who I found fascinating.

Charlotte (as she preferred to be called) was born in Wales in the 1760s, was educated in France, but her main story begins in the 1770s. Her family were living in Lambeth where she fell in love with a young man called David Ochterlony. He remained in her heart for the rest of her life, but once he left England, bound for India, she never saw him again. He was to become General Sir David Ochterlony, conqueror of Nepal, and general of the East India Company Army.

The authors have pieced together a great amount of detail from Charlotte’s life. In her late teenage years, she was to suffer at the hands of a manipulating rapist, a terrible ordeal, but one which may have fashioned her reserve later in life.

A keen royalist and a lover of France, Charlotte was later caught up in the French Revolution during the years 1792-5. Imprisoned in France, during the ‘Reign Of Terror’, Charlotte went on the write about her ordeal in a book which she had published. In England, she also became involved in writing political propaganda pamphlets, using her observations in France as evidence and arguments in her work.

Told from an era where women were given little voice or significance, Charlotte’s life achievements interested me greatly. She single-handedly initiated the 50th year Jubilee celebrations for King George III, by writing letters to all the significant towns, relying on competitive and jealous tendencies of town officials to snowball her idea into fruition. In other areas she did her best to become a female politician, by constantly writing to members of parliament with bold suggestions. One example was her views against an idea which the French had tried, to stabilise food prices. Charlotte had seen, first hand, how the system collapsed in France and, when the British suggested a similar price-cap on corn, she wrote to a prominent member of parliament with her opinions.

Her contacts and information gained in France led her to approach John Reeves in 1809 who formed the administration office of the first British Secret Service. Charlotte suggested she travel to France and act as a spy, reporting back information on life post the French Reformation.

I enjoyed this book, it was an interesting snapshot of a period of history which I know little about. Few women could have lived such an independent life as Charlotte managed. She was an author, playwright, ‘female politician’, spy and inciter of propaganda, often risking her life and her health in support of her beliefs.

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Reading Progress

December 7, 2017 – Started Reading
December 7, 2017 – Shelved
December 7, 2017 – Shelved as: biography
December 12, 2017 – Shelved as: non-fiction
December 12, 2017 – Finished Reading

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