One of the things that I enjoy about the characters in a story is deciding upon their name, and I will be posting more about that in relation to A Fair Prospect next weekend. However, in the meantime, I wanted to share a little more on the background to naming Darcy’s valet, Thornton.
When I wrote the first draft, the valet was named Grafton (after my father, who sadly passed away before the story was complete). It was very in Dad’s nature to look after people, to cater to their needs, to wait upon them in fact, and in my mind as I wrote was an image of him aged perhaps around 50 – the age I decided the valet would be.
When it came to the decision to attempt publication, however, I wanted to use my maiden name as my pen name, and therefore Darcy’s valet needed a new name. I tested a few out, but none seemed right. Then, one day (possibly influenced by yet another viewing of Elizabeth Gaskell’s North & South!) the name Thornton popped into my mind. I liked it (even down to the fact that the ‘ton’ at the end was also a way of keeping some of ‘Grafton’ in there!), and so that became his name.
The backstory I gave him, never intended to be part of the actual story, was that he had been widowed many years earlier, would be grandfather to the John Thornton of Marlborough Mills in North & South and that he had been estranged from his son (John Thornton’s father) for some years.
This came out briefly in an original scene near the end of Desperate Measures, but when it came to final edits, the references were removed. There were a variety of reasons for this, not least being that firstly it affected the pace of the story and secondly there needed to be more background explained to make it work ie where had Thornton come from to join Darcy’s family, and how long ago, in that Darcy did not know he had a son? I don’t suppose for a minute that even the best of masters would have cosy little chit-chats with their valet about family matters, but if Thornton had served Darcy (or someone else at Pemberley) for many years, it would no doubt be known.
I have, however, set up a page now for posting excerpts, out-takes, etc, and the expanded version of the aforementioned scene from Chapter Thirty Seven is now online should anyone wish to read it!
More at the weekend on the naming influences for the Haringtons and Seavingtons!