Monday, July 09, 2012

Male On Monday: Daniel Craig and TS Eliot

Harlequin Historical Author Marguerite Kaye explains why Daniel Craig and TS Eliot combined inspired her!

Elliot Marchmont, the hero of my forthcoming book, Outrageous Confessions of Lady Deborah, is a career soldier turned housebreaker. We first meet Elliot when he falls from a drainpipe and lands on my heroine, who writes erotic novels under the pseudonym Bella Donna. He quite literally, takes Deborah’s breath away!

Elliot suffers from survivor’s guilt. A veteran of the Napoleonic Wars, during which he reached the rank of major and sidelined in espionage, he is finding it difficult to adapt to civilian life. It’s not that he misses the bloodshed, but he does miss the thrill of war, the visceral excitement of living each day as if it might be his last, the intellectual as well as the physical challenge of combat. Elliot is angry at the way the men who fought for their country are being treated now the war is over, and is waging a one-man battle on their behalf. He is tough, fierce and intimidating on the outside, confused, isolated and vengeful inside.

I’m not a huge fan of action films, but when I first pictured Elliot, Daniel Craig’s version of James Bond came immediately to mind. He’s not classically handsome in a George Clooney way, but he’s dangerous, he’s unpredictable, he’s ruthless, and incredibly sexy.  

But Craig’s James Bond wasn’t my only source of inspiration. An unlikely Harlequin Mills&Boon hero maybe, but the poet Thomas Stearns Eliot is one of my heroes, and it is he who gave my Elliot his name. When I’m writing a book, there is usually a piece of poetry or a line from a song that evokes the essence of the story. In this case, it was those haunting lines from The Wasteland:

Unreal City,  

Under the brown fog of a winter dawn,     

A crowd flowed over London Bridge, so many,  

I had not thought death had undone so many.   

Eliot wrote this poem in the aftermath of the Great War. I first read it when I was in my final year of high school, and it just blew me away. Many years and many readings later, I still don’t understand some of it, but the essence of it, the tragedy and destruction of the 1914-18 war, still moves me to tears.

My Elliot (with a double ‘l’) spent most of his life in the army fighting the French. It was a long and costly war, during which the troops suffered dreadfully, not just on the battlefield, but through maladministration, ill-conceived economies, and disease. After Waterloo, they returned to a fundamentally changed Britain, to a government which had no money to pay their pensions, and a society which wanted to forget all about the war. Unemployment and crime soared. The soldiers were blamed for both.

The parallels between the experience of these veterans and those returning from the battlefields of the Great War are striking. And so, T S Eliot’s lines, it seemed to me, epitomised how my Elliot felt.

Outrageous Confessions of Lady Deborah is a Regency with no balls, no parties and no posh frocks. If you like your heroes dark, your heroines subversive, and your romance with the bedroom door open, then leave me a comment telling me your favourite poem, for a chance to win a copy.  

You can find out more about Marguerite Kayes's books at

Outrageous Confessions of Lady Deborah, Harlequin M&B Historical, August 2012.

Flirting with Ruin, the novella prequel to the Regency upstairs/downstairs series, Castonbury Park, is available for FREE download during July at major digital retailers in the US and Canada, and from Mills&Boon in the UK.


  1. I'll give you this one which I've quoted in one of my stories.

    We shall not cease from exploration
    And the end of all our exploring
    Will be to arrive where we started
    And know the place for the first time.
    T.S. Eliot 'Little Giddings'(No. 4 of 'Four Quartets')

    But what I'm reading at the moment in poetry is also apt.
    Only, always,
    I could but see them—against the lamplight—pass
    Like coloured shadows, thinner than filmy glass,
    Slight bubbles, fainter than the wave’s faint light,
    That broke to phosphorus out in the night,
    Perishing things and strange ghosts—soon to die
    To other ghosts—this one, or that or I.

    from Rupert Brook's 'Fragment' April 1915

    1. I love Eliot, just love him. I hadn't seen the Rupert Brook before, though I remember he was one of the first poets I read when studying WWI, and that's a really moving excerpt, thank you.

    2. I find WWI and that immediate post war world fascinating. If ever I wrote period I think that would be it. With so many lost and so many coming home shattered. Even in lightweight books like Dorothy L Sayers, Lord Peter mysteries and Agatha Christie you get a taste of it.

  2. Yes, dark and broody heros.

    Golden slumbers kiss your eyes,
    Smiles awake you when you rise
    Sleep prettly darling do not cry
    And I will sing a lullaby
    -Thomas Dekker

  3. Sheila, that's lovely. I haven't read much Dekker, but I think he was a contemporary of Donne - who wrote another of my fave poems, 'The Good Morrow' which I quoted in The Captain's Wicked Wager. Poetry is just so evocative, isn't it?

  4. Happy the man, and happy he alone,
    he who can call today his own:
    He who, secure within, can say,
    Tomorrow do thy worst, for I have lived today.

  5. He drew a circle that shut me out -
    Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
    But love and I had the wit to win -
    We drew a circle that took him in.

    By Edwin Markham, about whom I know absolutely nothing. And it took me years even to understand what the poem was about. But the firs time I read it, I thought it was fabulous.

  6. Anyone who wants to find out more about TS Eliot and his poetry should visit the site of the TS Eliot Society, at, where there are links to his works, his biography, and a recording of him reading these very lines within The Waste Land.