The Country of the Past: an exegesis to 'Great and Glorious Intent'

Cooke, Alana
George, James
Johnson, Stephanie
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Master of Creative Writing
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Auckland University of Technology

This novel, "Great and Glorious Intent" is historical biographical fiction fashioned around the early life of Richard Molesworth who took part in the War of the Spanish Succession under the leadership of the 1st Duke of Marlborough. It is set between 1702 and 1716. The early eighteenth century is an era of a change in the ideology of the English populace. They are ‘hauled’ by the educated, the upper classes and the philosophers (Locke, Butler), the novelists, (Defoe, Swift, Richardson,), thinkers and writers, (Addison, Steele, Swift), and politicians of the time (Sunderland, Harley, Bolingbroke), into an era of new thought that progresses into ‘democracy’ which comes to fruition in the late 18th century in what is now known as The Enlightenment. At the time of these changes England’s trade and colonization aspirations are threatened by France and Spain who own territory in the New World. There is also the threat of Roman Catholicism and the problem of the continuing Protestant succession. France is the culprit; the ‘Pretender’ to the English throne is being protected by Louis XIV’s court. The result is the War of the Spanish Succession, 1702-1712. This is the background of my novel. Amongst this panoply of history is a story that had to be lifted from background information: letters closely read, shaped into a structure following the traditional pattern for a novel, characters and settings imagined and described, the era thoroughly researched, a “voice” created which resonates with today’s thinking and which appeals to modern readers; justice has to be done to the real character, permission sought from living descendants, and the slotting of the novel into a present day genre and reasons given for this. This is historical biographical fiction, a fashionable and controversial genre .
Historical fiction is described as “an amalgamation of accuracy and illusion…. [which] is a defining characteristic of ALL fiction [not only historical fiction] ….History is always searching for the truth. Fiction is not.” In the writing of this novel I researched for truth but wrote as fiction.

18th Century Military History , Molesworth , 1st Duke of Marlborough , Blenheim , War of the Spanish Succession , Richard Molesworth
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