Lord John Grey

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Lord John Grey
Lord John series character
First appearance Dragonfly in Amber (1992)
Last appearance Written in My Own Heart's Blood (2014)
Created by Diana Gabaldon
Information
Gender Male
Occupation Officer, British Army
Title Lord
Family Gerard Grey, Duke of Pardloe (father, deceased)
Benedicta Grey, Duchess of Pardloe (mother)
Harold Grey, Earl of Melton (brother)
Nationality British

Lord John William Grey is a fictional character created by Diana Gabaldon. He is a recurring secondary character in the author's Outlander series and the protagonist of his own series of historical mystery novels and shorter works. Secretly homosexual "in a time when that particular predilection could get one hanged," the character has been called "one of the most complex and interesting" of the hundreds of characters in Gabaldon's Outlander novels.[1]

Outlander series[edit]

Grey first appears in the second Outlander novel Dragonfly in Amber (1992) as a sixteen-year-old English soldier who chances upon Jamie and Claire Fraser on the eve of the Battle of Prestonpans. The character makes subsequent appearances in Voyager (1994), Drums of Autumn (1997), A Breath of Snow and Ashes (2005), An Echo in the Bone (2009), and Written in My Own Heart's Blood (2014), as well as in The Fiery Cross (2001) by way of a series of letters to Jamie and his family.

Lord John series[edit]

Most notably, Grey is also featured in his own Lord John series of historical mystery novels and shorter works that all take place between 1756 and 1761, during the events of Voyager.[2][3] When Gabaldon was invited to write a short story for the 1998 British anthology Past Poisons: An Ellis Peters Memorial Anthology of Historical Crime, she was interested in the challenge of writing a shorter work but hesitant to use any of the main characters from the Outlander series for fear of creating "a stumbling block in the growth of the next novel."[3] The Lord Grey character came to mind.[4]

"Lord John Grey is an important character in the Outlander series, but he isn’t onstage all the time. And when he isn’t … well, plainly he’s off leading his life and having adventures elsewhere, and I could write about any of those adventures without causing complications for future novels. Beyond that obvious advantage, Lord John is a fascinating character. He’s what I call a 'mushroom' — one of those unplanned people who pops up out of nowhere and walks off with any scene he’s in — and he talks to me easily (and wittily). He’s also a gay man, in a time when to be homosexual was a capital offense, and Lord John has more than most to lose by discovery. He belongs to a noble family, he’s an officer in His Majesty’s Army, and loves both his family and his regiment; to have his private life discovered would damage — if not destroy — both. Consequently, he lives constantly with conflict, which makes him both deeply entertaining and easy to write about."[3]

That first Lord John story became Lord John and the Hellfire Club (1998); it was well-received and Gabaldon decided that she would write more Grey-centric tales in her spare time.[3][4] Her next attempt was a larger manuscript that secured the author a deal for three full Grey novels: Lord John and the Private Matter (2003), Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade (2007) and The Scottish Prisoner (2011).[3][4] Gabaldon would also write four additional Lord John novellas between 2003 and 2011.[3] The Lord John spin-off series currently consists of five novellas and three novels; though they and the main Outlander books can be understood independently of each other, there are events in each that will be more thoroughly understood having read both series.[3] They can be generally categorized as historical mysteries, and the three novels are shorter and focus on fewer plot threads than the main Outlander books.[2]

  1. Lord John and the Hellfire Club (1998), a novella. Originally published in the 1998 British anthology Past Poisons: An Ellis Peters Memorial Anthology of Historical Crime (edited by Maxim Jakubowski),[2][5] as well as by Bantam Dell as Lord John and the Hell-Fire Club in a "Complimentary Collector's Special Edition" the same year.[6] It was later included in the Lord John and the Hand of Devils collection (2007).[2][3][7]
  2. Lord John and the Private Matter (2003), a novel. Published by Delacorte Press on September 30, 2003.[8] Though Gabaldon had intended it to be a novella, Private Matter came in at 320 pages and secured the author a deal for two additional full Grey novels, Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade (2007) and The Scottish Prisoner (2011).[3][4][8]
  3. Lord John and the Succubus (2003), a novella. Originally published in the 2003 Del Rey Books anthology Legends II: New Short Novels by the Masters of Modern Fantasy (edited by Robert Silverberg),[2][9] and later collected in Lord John and the Hand of Devils (2007).[2][3][7]
  4. Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade (2007), a novel. Published by Delacorte Press on August 28, 2007.[10]
  5. Lord John and the Haunted Soldier (2007), a novella. Published in the 2007 Delacorte Press collection Lord John and the Hand of Devils alongside previously-published novellas Lord John and the Hellfire Club (1998) and Lord John and the Succubus (2003).[2][3][7][11] As Haunted Soldier is a direct follow-up to her novel Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade, Gabaldon pushed the publication of the Hand of Devils collection until after the novel's release.[4]
  6. The Custom of the Army (2010), a novella. First published in the 2010 Tor Books fantasy anthology Warriors, edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois.[2][12] In May 2012 it became available as a standalone eBook, and was later included in A Trail of Fire, an Outlander collection released in the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand in late 2012 and expected to be released in the United States and Canada in early 2014.[13][14]
  7. The Scottish Prisoner (2011), a novel. Published by Delacorte Press on November 29, 2011.[15]
  8. Lord John and the Plague of Zombies (2011), a novella. First published in the 2011 Ace Books "urban fantasy" anthology Down These Strange Streets, edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois.[2][16] In April 2013 it became available as a standalone eBook titled A Plague of Zombies, and was later included in A Trail of Fire, an Outlander collection released in the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand in late 2012 and expected to be released in the United States and Canada in early 2014.[14][17] The novella was nominated for an Edgar Award by the Mystery Writers of America, for the “Best Short Mystery Story” of 2011.[17]

Fictional character details[edit]

Lord John Grey himself has been called one of Gabaldon's "most complex and interesting" Outlander characters.[1] Publishers Weekly notes Grey to be "a competent and likable sleuth"[18] and a " soldier-hero with secrets of his own."[19] Comfortable with his sexuality but necessarily "discreet", Grey navigates mystery and intrigue "with characteristic élan, intelligence, and fortitude, assisted by jeweled goblets of wine and meaningful glances from fetching men."[20]

A gay man in a time when that particular predilection could get one hanged, Lord John is a man accustomed to keeping secrets. He's also a man of honor and deep affections — whether returned or not.[1]
 

Background[edit]

Born around June 1729, John William Grey was the second child of the Duke and Duchess of Pardloe, Gerard and Benedicta Grey. The couple's first child is John's elder brother, Harold. In addition to Harold, John had two other siblings—half brothers from his mother's earlier marriage to Captain DeVane—Paul and Edgar DeVane.[21] In Dragonfly in Amber, it seemed that his father was an Earl, but this seeming discrepancy was a central plot point in Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade. John's godfather immediately enrolled John into the Beefsteak Club after his birth.[22] John was taught the use of a blade starting from age three.[23] When John was seven, his godfather began taking John to the Beefsteak Club every Wednesday for lunch.[22]

On his 12th birthday, John was given a pocket watch by his father, who supposedly shot himself the day after to escape being charged as a Jacobite. Afterwards, John was sent to Aberdeen. Due to the scandal surrounding the death, John's older brother Harold had instead taken their father's second title, Earl of Melton. John, on the other hand, still preferred to be called Lord John Grey, as was befitting a duke's younger son.

Career[edit]

In 1745, when John was sixteen, he informally joined the 46th Regiment, which his older brother Harold had raised to restore the family's reputation. John mainly served as a forager and a scout during this time. He came across Jamie and Claire Fraser while exploring the hills surrounding the English campsite. In the mistaken belief that Claire was a prisoner of the Scots, he gave them information about his regiment to protect her honor. This led to a raid on his camp by the Scots and so to most of Grey's own regiment "he had been a pariah and an object of scorn."[24] John was still with the regiment at the Battle of Culloden, but prevented from fighting by his brother.

In 1755, by which time he had risen to the rank of major, John served a year and a half as the Governor of Ardsmuir Prison, Scotland, where he met Jamie Fraser again. In 1756, after the prison was successfully rebuilt into a fortress, John arranged for Fraser to be paroled to Helwater, under the eye of family friend Lord Dunsany, instead of being transported to the American colonies.

In 1757, while in London, he helped solve the murder of a fellow soldier, who was suspected of espionage. Later that year, he accepted a posting as the English liaison officer to the Imperial Fifth Regiment of Hanoverian Foot.[25]

In 1758, after John returned to the 46th Regiment, it was assigned to fight under Duke Ferdinand of Brunswick and chased French and Austrian troops around in the Rhine Valley for weeks until the Battle of Krefeld. During the battle, John took charge of a gun crew that had lost its commander and the cannon blew up after a few shots.[26] The Royal Commission of Inquiry started an investigation over the blown-up cannon and John was called to stand before a tribunal a few months after the battle.

In 1765, John, by then a lieutenant-colonel, had retired from military life and was appointed the Governor of Jamaica.[24] He eventually left Jamaica for Virginia and settled down there.

Appearance and personal life[edit]

Grey is about five six, slight and good-looking, with fine-boned features. He has long, blond hair, "large, beautiful" blue eyes[27] and a "beautiful" mouth.

His first lover was Hector, a twenty-year-old lieutenant in the 46th Regiment who died in the Battle of Culloden.

Around 1747, John's cousin, Olivia Pearsall, was orphaned and became Harold's ward. She moved in with Benedicta and lived there until marriage. As such, John seemed to be closer to her than his other cousins, or even his half-brothers.

At eighteen, John entered into a relationship with George Everett, who took him to the Lavender House—a discreet club in London that catered to gay men.[28] The relationship seemed to have ended by 1755, when a scandal involving George Everett caused John to be reassigned to Ardsmuir.

After meeting Jamie Fraser again at the prison, John became friends with Fraser over their weekly dinners and fell in love with him. John made advances towards Fraser but was rejected. Nonetheless, he remains in love with Fraser throughout the Outlander series.

In 1757, John began investigating Olivia's fiancé, Joseph Trevelyan, whom John suspected to have syphilis. John visited the Lavender House during the course of his investigation and had an one-night-stand with a young man there.[29] During the investigation, John gains a new valet, Tom Byrd.

In 1758, John was formally introduced to Percy Wainwright, the stepson of General Sir George Stanley, who was John's new stepfather. John and Wainwright had actually met a year before at the Lavender House and became romantically involved after their formal introduction. The relationship ended when Percy was discovered in flagrante delicto with another man by John and two other soldiers. This was at the time a capital crime. John helped Percy escape to Ireland in order to avoid being hanged.[30]

In 1760, Lord John and Jamie Fraser end up traveling together to Ireland to try to bring back an English soldier with the intent of instigating court-martial procedures against him. During this process they manage to begin to rebuild their friendship. Lord John also has a brief marmaliaison with Stephan von Namtzen, whom he has been good friends with through several other books.[31]

John later married Isobel Dunsany, the daughter of family friend Lord Dunsany, at least in part to take care of Jamie Fraser's illegitimate son, William. The boy was left in Isobel's care because his mother Geneva Dunsany—Isobel's sister—had died soon after giving birth to him. Jamie Fraser killed William's putative father, the Earl of Ellesmere, when the Earl threatened to kill the infant.

During John's journey to Jamaica, he met Claire Fraser again, and was later re-acquainted with Jamie in Jamaica. Afterwards, Isobel and William went to join John in Jamaica, but Isobel died during the sea voyage. At the end of his governorship, John took William with him to visit Jamie Fraser at Fraser's Ridge, en route to a Virginian plantation that belonged to William. Later, John went to North Carolina to visit Jocasta Cameron, Jamie's aunt, and was introduced to a very pregnant Brianna Fraser, to whom John became temporarily engaged so that she would not be bombarded by suitors.

While in Virginia, John kept up a correspondence with the Frasers and bought for Claire several of the ingredients she needed to create ether. He also became involved again with a Native American man called Manoke, who took a job at the plantation as John's cook. He originally met Manoke years earlier in Canada during the short story The Custom of the Army, which was published in an anthology titled Warriors.

After the American Revolutionary War broke out, John went to Philadelphia to check on the status of his nephew Henry, who was wounded in the war, with the bullets still stuck in him. Claire, who was also visiting Philadelphia at the time, was able to operate on Henry and save his life. John and Claire then received the (erroneously reported) news of Jamie's death, and John later married Claire to keep her from being arrested as an American spy. Though homosexual, he has had sex with a few female prostitutes[32] and the two women he married.

Although John was a member of White's Club, he usually dined at the Beefsteak Club instead.[33] Some of John's hobbies were watching horse-racing, the theater and French novels.[34]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Silverberg, Robert (December 30, 2003). "Intro: Lord John and the Succubus". Legends II: New Short Novels by the Masters of Modern Fantasy. Del Rey Books. ISBN 0345456440. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Official site: Chronology of the Outlander Series". DianaGabaldon.com (Internet Archive). Retrieved October 29, 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Official site: Lord John Grey Series". DianaGabaldon.com (Internet Archive). Retrieved October 29, 2013. 
  4. ^ a b c d e Donnell, P. (October 6, 2007). "From Academia to Steamy Fiction". Canada.com. The Gazette (Montreal). Retrieved October 30, 2013. 
  5. ^ Gabaldon, Diana (November 12, 1998). Jakubowski, Maxim, ed. Past Poisons: An Ellis Peters Memorial Anthology of Historical Crime. United Kingdom: Headline Publishing. ISBN 0747275017. 
  6. ^ Gabaldon, Diana (1998). Lord John and the Hell-Fire Club: Complimentary Collector's Special Edition. United States: Bantam Dell. 
  7. ^ a b c Gabaldon, Diana (November 27, 2007). Lord John and the Hand of Devils. Delacorte Press. ISBN 0385311397. 
  8. ^ a b Gabaldon, Diana (September 30, 2003). Lord John and the Private Matter. Delacorte Press. ISBN 0385337477. 
  9. ^ Gabaldon, Diana (December 30, 2003). "Lord John and the Succubus". In Silverberg, Robert. Legends II: New Short Novels by the Masters of Modern Fantasy. Del Rey Books. ISBN 0345456440. 
  10. ^ Gabaldon, Diana (August 28, 2007). Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade. Delacorte Press. ISBN 0385337493. 
  11. ^ Kleine, Jane (January 27, 2008). "Lord John compelling tales". PostandCourier.com. The Post and Courier. Retrieved October 30, 2013. 
  12. ^ Gabaldon, Diana (March 16, 2010). "The Custom of the Army". In Martin, George R.R.; Dozois, Gardner. Warriors. Tor Books. ISBN 0765320487. 
  13. ^ "Official site: Lord John and the Custom of the Army". DianaGabaldon.com (Internet Archive). Retrieved October 30, 2013. 
  14. ^ a b "Official site: A Trail of Fire". DianaGabaldon.com (Internet Archive). Retrieved October 30, 2013. 
  15. ^ Gabaldon, Diana (November 29, 2011). The Scottish Prisoner. Delacorte Press. ISBN 0385337515. 
  16. ^ Gabaldon, Diana (October 4, 2011). Martin, George R.R.; Dozois, Gardner, eds. Down These Strange Streets. Ace Books. ISBN 0441020747. 
  17. ^ a b "Official site: A Plague of Zombies". DianaGabaldon.com (Internet Archive). Retrieved October 30, 2013. 
  18. ^ "Fiction Book Review: Lord John and the Private Matter". PublishersWeekly.com. September 15, 2003. Retrieved November 23, 2013. 
  19. ^ "Fiction Book Review: Lord John and the Hand of Devils". PublishersWeekly.com. September 10, 2007. Retrieved November 23, 2013. 
  20. ^ Reese, Jennifer (November 27, 2007). "Book Review: Lord John and the Hand of Devils (2007)". EW.com. Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved October 30, 2013. 
  21. ^ Gabaldon, Diana (2008). Lord John and the Hand of Devils (Reprint paperback ed.). Bantam Dell. p. 212. ISBN 978-0-385-34251-3. 
  22. ^ a b Gabaldon, Diana (2008). Lord John and the Private Matter (Reprint paperback ed.). Bantam Dell. p. 4. ISBN 978-0-440-24148-5. 
  23. ^ Gabaldon, Diana (2008). Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade (Reprint paperback ed.). Bantam Dell. p. 160. ISBN 978-0-385-33750-2. 
  24. ^ a b Gabaldon, Diana (1994). Voyager (Reprint paperback ed.). Bantam Dell. pp. 893–894. ISBN 978-0-440-21756-5. 
  25. ^ Gabaldon (2008). Hand of Devils. p. 45. 
  26. ^ Gabaldon (2008). Brotherhood of the Blade. pp. 400–407. 
  27. ^ Gabaldon, Diana (1996). Drums of Autumn (1st ed.). Delacorte Press. p. 764. ISBN 0-385-31140-0. 
  28. ^ Gabaldon (2008). Private Matter. pp. 142–145. 
  29. ^ Gabaldon (2008). Private Matter. pp. 162–163. 
  30. ^ Gabaldon (2008). Brotherhood of the Blade. 
  31. ^ Gabaldon, Diana (2012). The Scottish Prisoner (Reprint paperback ed.). Bantam Dell. ISBN 978-0-385-33752-6. 
  32. ^ Gabaldon (2008). Brotherhood of the Blade. p. 174. 
  33. ^ Gabaldon (2008). Brotherhood of the Blade. p. 32. 
  34. ^ Gabaldon (2008). Brotherhood of the Blade. p. 13. 

External links[edit]