Books that Inspired The Tattooed Duke

There were a few books that were quite influential in the creation of the characters of The Tattooed Duke. Most of these I first read for pleasure, and then again for research. For further reading on matters of science and scandal, girl reporters, naughty housemaids and great adventures, check out these books:

The Brother’s Gardeners by Andrea Wulf. I discovered this book on a table at Barnes & Noble (ah, bookstore browsing serendipity! Remember that?) and immediately bought it for my mother, who loves gardening and history. She insisted I read it if only for the story of Joseph Banks (a major inspiration for Wycliff). It’s a really funny, illuminating and riveting book about the plant trade in the 18th century, particularly between England and America.


The Age of Wonder: How the Romantic Generation Discovered the Beauty and Terror of Science by Richard Holmes.  This book features a collection of short biographies on some Romantic Era scientists. Lud, is this one wonderful! I had no idea about the drama, big personalities, family dynamics, love stories, rivalries, scandals and eureka moments behind things like plant exploration, hot air balloons, laughing gas, African explorations and the moon.


Rules of an Engagement by Suzanne Enoch. The novel is set on a boat sailing through the Tahitian Islands and features a ship captain responsible for a boatload of people including the heroine and her plant-hunting father.  In the end, this hero also gets some tattoos.



Off the Map: Tales of Endurance and Exploration by Fergus Fleming. I knew I wanted my hero to be an explorer and to be on a quest. I wasn’t sure what that quest would be, so I picked up this collection of historic adventures. It was here I learned about the race to Timbuktu, spurred by the French Government’s promised reward. The winner taught himself arabic, adopted a disguise and set off alone!


Pamela by Samuel Richardson and Shamela by Henry Fielding. In one scene, thee characters read selections from these novels. These are Real Books Every English Major Must Read. And one ought to. Pamela is the story of a poor housemaid who manages to reform the debaucherous (and a bit rapey) Lord B with the power of her virtue. It is often cited as one of the first romance novels and it was a massive bestseller when it was first published in 1740. I must note that in today’s terms, she’d probably be classified as “too stupid to live.” I’ve always wanted to slap her, as the housekeeper Mrs. Buxby voices my sentiments. Shamela is the hysterical satire of Pamela.

Nellie Bly:: Daredevil, Reporter, Feminist. Biographies of Nelly were few and far between–I had to order a used print copy off Amazon–but she had quite the life! She was born rich, became poor and managed to gain some college education…and then became rich and then poor again. Most of all, she had gumption. She was a famous newspaper reporter–her stories included a week undercover in an insane asylum and going around the world in 80 days. She married well, and went on to have a second career is business. Her life is fascinating and full of ups and downs. I highly recommend her!



The Age of Wonder was already on my to-read list, and now this makes me want to go read it even more! Need to go buy it soon 🙂 Rules of an Engagement also sounds really good.

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