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Another unexpected literary inspiration – and evocative image – for my story; the traditional tale of Beauty and the Beast. Written by French novelist Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve, first published in 1740 (as La Belle et la Bête), and endlessly adapted since for book, screen and theatre. The illustration above is by Warwick Goble from a 1913 retelling of the story (appropriate timing for my story is set in the #GreatWar, #WW1!) We all know the story: A ship-wrecked merchant picks a forbidden rose and is confronted by a hideous humanoid Beast. Fearing for his life, the merchant agrees to send one of his daughters to live with the Beast. His youngest daughter (“lovely, kind, well-read, and pure of heart”) agrees to fulfil this request and lives in luxury with the Beast, enjoying his company, engaging in long conversations but refusing to marry him. After a time, Beauty becomes homesick and the Beast allows her to leave provided she returns to him after one week. Beauty breaks her promise and lingers at home, encouraged to do so (according to the original tale) by her wicked sisters. When she eventually returns to the Beast’s palace, she finds him “lying half-dead from heartbreak” amongst his rose bushes. Beauty weeps over the Beast, declaring her love for him. As her tears fall on his broken body, the Beast is transformed into a handsome prince. The prince tells Beauty that long ago an evil fairy turned him into a hideous beast and that only by finding true love could the curse be broken. (The original tale has the evil fairy attempting to seduce the prince, but Disney glosses over that detail.) The pair marry and live happily ever after. My story reflects the redemptive power of my heroine’s love for a man made ugly by his experience of war. #amwriting #writinginspiration #amwritinghistoricalfiction #historicalfiction #historicalromance
H M Hulme
Writer of literary historical fiction set in the First World War. Revising my first book, writing the next, seeking representation. Rather chuffed to be long-listed for Historical Writers Association Dorothy Dunnett Short Story Competition 2019. Mountaineer, gardener, traveller, reader. Africa, Modernism, tea, roses, and unrealistic romance. NHS midwife in a former life.