Scandalous Women Radio: Hortense de Beauharnais, Queen of Holland
Scandalous Women is pleased to welcome author Lauren Willig this week to talk about the scandalous life of Hortense de Beauharnais (1783-1837). The only daughter of the infamous Josephine and step-daughter to Napoleon, Hortense was married off to his brother Louis and made Queen of Holland. But she was in love with another man, the Comte de Flahaut, rumored to be the illegitimate son of Talleyrand. During the Hundred Days, her support of her step-father meant that she was banished from France. She died at the age of 54 in 1837. She never lived to see her son Napoleon become the Emperor of the French as Napoleon III.
A native of New York City, Lauren Willig has been writing romances ever since she got her hands on her first romance novel at the age of six. Three years later, she sent her first novel off to a publishing house—all three hundred hand-written pages. They sent it back. Undaunted, Lauren has continued to generate large piles of paper and walk in front of taxis while thinking about plot ideas.
After thirteen years at an all girls school (explains the romance novels, doesn’t it?), Lauren set off for Yale and co-education, where she read lots of Shakespeare, wrote sonnet sequences when she was supposed to be doing her science requirement, and lived in a Gothic fortress complete with leaded windows and gargoyles. After college, she decided she really hadn’t had enough school yet, and headed off to that crimson place in Cambridge, Massachusetts for a degree in English history. Like her modern heroine, she spent a year doing dissertation research in London, tramping back and forth between the British Library and the Public Records Office, reading lots of British chick lit, and eating far too many Sainsbury’s frozen dinners.
By a strange quirk of fate, Lauren signed her first book contract during her first month of law school. She finished writing "Pink Carnation" during her 1L year, scribbled "Black Tulip" her 2L year, and struggled through "Emerald Ring" as a weary and jaded 3L. After three years of taking useful and practical classes like “Law in Ancient Athens” and “The Globalization of the Modern Legal Consciousness”, Lauren received her J.D. magna cum laude from Harvard Law School. For a year and a half, she practiced as a litigation associate at a large New York law firm. But having attained the lofty heights of second year associate, she decided that book deadlines and doc review didn't mix and departed the law for a new adventure in full time writerdom.