Thursday, November 25, 2010

Deborah Swift: Character Study of Richard Wheeler from The Lady's Slipper **Includes Giveaway**

We are very pleased today to welcome back Deborah Swift to Historical Tapestry. A few months ago, Deborah wrote an awesome guest post for us title Why I Love Shoes. If you haven't read it yet, please click on the link and enjoy it now! Today, Deborah has done a character study for us of Richard Wheeler, one of the main characters from The Lady's Slipper. Scroll down to the bottom of the post for details of the giveaway we are announcing today!

Richard Wheeler – the strong and silent type

One of the main characters in my new novel The Lady’s Slipper is Richard Wheeler.

Like all my favourite heroes he is handsome, strong and capable, but unlike most other heroes when the novel opens he has just become a “seeker after Truth” or a Quaker. Today we tend to view the Quakers as quite conservative, but in the 1650’s when the movement began they were seen as dangerous, radical, even insane. Through the latter half of the 17th century and beyond they were persecuted for their beliefs which were seen as challenging the stranglehold supremacy of the church. Even when they fled to the New World, the persecution continued.

Richard Wheeler was brought up as the wealthy son of a landowner, but his life changed when he followed Cromwell and his parliamentary troops in the War against the King. Richard saw this as a battle for the common man and democracy, so that ordinary people could have more control over their land and property. During The Civil War the English nation tore at its own throat and the battle of brother against brother claimed thousands of lives.

Oliver Cromwell at the Storming of Basing House by Ernest Crofts RA
Basing House was attacked by Parliamentary troops on three occasions. The final assault came in August 1645 when 800 men took up position around the walls. Between forty and a hundred people were killed. Parliamentary troops were given leave to pillage the house and a fire finally destroyed the building.

Richard fought for Cromwell against his own ruling class, but the horrific bloodshed he witnessed made him vow never to take up arms again, and led him to join the fledgling Quaker movement which had made a pledge for peace. Quaker meetings are a “sitting in silence” - but the restless man-of-action Richard finds the silent reflection both refreshing and difficult. He remembers his part in the atrocities of war and wrestles with his conscience, particularly as he finds he is falling for Alice, his artist neighbour. Not only does she have radically different views from his own, but also she is a married woman.

Giving up his fine things to live a simpler life – leaving behind his luxurious lifestyle and fine clothes, is not nearly as easy as Richard anticipates, but harder still for an active man is the idea of “turning the other cheek” when threatened or challenged. The seventeenth century was a violent and bloodthirsty period, a period in which hangings and burnings were commonplace entertainment, and Richard is trained as a swordsman in an era where to be manly is to be able to handle oneself well in a fight.

So what happens when Richard becomes locked in a bitter battle against his former childhood friend, and worse, when the life of the woman he loves is in danger? Will Richard fight to defend her, or will he stick to his Quaker vow of non-violence?

My research for Richard Wheeler took me to fields where the Civil War was fought, to the Armouries Museum at Leeds, and to libraries where I looked at Quaker journals and George Fox’s diary. Richard Wheeler’s House was based on Townend in Troutbeck, Cumbria which was built in 1645.

The Lady’s Slipper is out on 23rd November published by St. Martin’s Press. To find out more about the book and the author, visit her website at

To celebrate the US release of The Lady's Slipper by Deborah Swift, we are pleased to have a copy of the book to giveaway thanks to St Martin's Press.

To win, just leave a comment.
  • open for US/Canada residents only
  • contest closes the 2/12/10 at midnight GMT
  • one entry per household


  1. Happy Thanksgiving and thank you
    kaiminani at gmail dot com

  2. I'd love to win. Thanks!


  3. I'd love to enter! Thanks!

    aikychien at yahoo dot com

  4. Thank you for the giveaway!

  5. This looks like a very interesting book, one that I would like to read. Thanks for the giveaway!

    tmrtini at gmail dot com

  6. This Civil War era is a favorite setting, and Richard Wheeler sounds so interesting. I'd love to read about the early days of the Quaker movement. Thanks for the giveaway.

  7. For the longest time I didn't even know what a Lady's Slipper was! This book does sound so interesting and I haven't actually read anything from that period. Please enter me!


  8. This book sounds fabulous! Please enter me in the contest. Thank you! gemmamoy(at)aol(dot) com.

  9. count me in! thanks!


  10. I'd love to win a copy. Also, anyone interested in Quaker characters might enjoy Margaret Elphinstone's Voyageurs, about a young Quaker man in the early 19th century who travels to Canada in search of his sister, who has eloped with a fur trader.

  11. Please enter me also. This book looks good.

  12. hmmmm, might help if I left my email address:



  13. Great giveaway! Please count me in! Thanks!

    tiger_fan_1997 AT yahoo DOT com

  14. I'd love to enter! Thanks for the giveaway!

  15. Thanks for the offer!

    sewveryblessed09 at gmail dot com

  16. Wow, what a fascinating subject, with both the English Civil War and the challenges of being a Quaker! Thanks for the contest - carrie468 -at- yahoo com

  17. Please enter me in your drawing for the book! Thanks!


  18. Thanks for the giveaway! Sounds great!

    dreamer7777 at gmail dot com

  19. The story line sounds very interesting. Please count me in for the giveaway. Thank you!

    nunezbella at hotmail com

  20. Sign me up!