East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

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Hope & Glory – Winston Churchill’s (minimal) contribution

How does it feel to have your grandmother read your book, and tell you…

It clearly shows your lack of experience with women

… Awkward, uh?
And it’s even worse, I guess, when your grandmother is Frances, Duchess of Marlborough, and you are a young army officer who wrote the book on your way to India, and your name is Winston S. Churchill.

ruritania_zenda_1938_by_mbhdesign-d8zcnf3One of the many bits and pieces that went into Hope & Glory is the literary genre (or sub-genre) of Ruritanian Romance, those stories of passion and derring-do set in unlikely small European nations, like Anthony Hope’s Ruritania or George Barr McCutcheon’s Graustark.
And right now I am working on a small sourcebook for Hope & Glory, set in one of these micro-nations that dot the post-Catastrope landscape of Lost Europe, and in particular a place called Valiria – a fantasy name if ever there was one – which is perched on the Pyrenees, between the iced plains of France and the wind-swept steppes of Spain, where the mammoth roam. Continue reading

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And talking about small imaginary European states…
I guess everybody out there is familiar with Brewster’s Millions, if not the original novel from 1902, at least with the Richard Pryor movie of 1985, directed by Walter Hill. One of the dozen or so movies based on that novel, that was written by George Barr McCutcheon.

Now, McCutcheon’s other claim to literary fame is the creation of Graustark, a Ruritania-like, romantic European micronation that he explored in six novels.


Indeed, such was the popularity of McCutcheon’s novels that if a whole genre is known as Ruritanian Romance thanks to Anthony Hope’s The Prisoner of Zenda, that same genre is also known as Graustarkian Romance. Continue reading