Lord John Grey
|Lord John Grey|
|Outlander series and Lord John series character|
|First appearance||Dragonfly in Amber (1992)|
|Last appearance||Written in My Own Heart's Blood (2014)|
|Created by||Diana Gabaldon|
|Occupation||Officer, British Army|
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.
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
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. 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." The Lord Grey character came to mind.
"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."
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. 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). Gabaldon would also write four additional Lord John novellas between 2003 and 2011. 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. 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.
- 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), as well as by Bantam Dell as Lord John and the Hell-Fire Club in a "Complimentary Collector's Special Edition" the same year. It was later included in the Lord John and the Hand of Devils collection (2007).
- Lord John and the Private Matter (2003), a novel. Published by Delacorte Press on September 30, 2003. 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).
- 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), and later collected in Lord John and the Hand of Devils (2007).
- Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade (2007), a novel. Published by Delacorte Press on August 28, 2007.
- 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). 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.
- 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. 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.
- The Scottish Prisoner (2011), a novel. Published by Delacorte Press on November 29, 2011.
- 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. 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. The novella was nominated for an Edgar Award by the Mystery Writers of America, for the “Best Short Mystery Story” of 2011.
Lord John Grey himself has been called one of Gabaldon's "most complex and interesting" Outlander characters. Publishers Weekly notes Grey to be "a competent and likable sleuth" and a " soldier-hero with secrets of his own." 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."
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.
Grey is described as being about five feet six inches, slight and good-looking, with fine-boned features. He has long, blond hair and "large, beautiful" blue eyes.
Born around June 1729, John William Grey is the second child of the Duke and Duchess of Pardloe, Gerard and Benedicta Grey. His brother Harold, called "Hal", is nine years older. John also has two other siblings—Paul and Edgar DeVane—half brothers from his mother's earlier marriage to Captain DeVane. When John is 12, the Duke dies in an apparent gun-inflicted suicide just as accusations surface that he may be a Jacobite. Subsequently, Harold takes the Duke's second title, Earl of Melton, to distance the family from the scandal. John continues to be called Lord John Grey, as is befitting a duke's younger son.
John's godfather had immediately enrolled him into the Beefsteak Club after his birth. He had been taught the use of a blade starting from age three, and when John was seven, his godfather had begun taking him to the Beefsteak Club every Wednesday for lunch.
In 1745, when Grey is sixteen, he informally joins the 46th Regiment, which Hal had raised to restore the family's reputation. Grey mainly serves as a forager and a scout during this time. During the events of Dragonfly in Amber (1992), he comes across Highland warrior Jamie Fraser and his wife Claire in Scotland while exploring the hills surrounding the English campsite. In the mistaken belief that Claire is an English prisoner of the Scots, Grey tries to "save" her; Jamie breaks his arm but spares his life. Information gleaned by Jamie from the encounter leads to the Highlanders defeating the English forces at the Battle of Prestonpans (1745).
As related later in Voyager (1993), to most of Grey's own regiment he subsequently "had been a pariah and an object of scorn." Around this time, Grey is raped by an unknown fellow soldier, but keeps silent. Grey's first lover is Hector, a twenty-year-old lieutenant in his regiment. Grey is still with the 46th Regiment at the Battle of Culloden (1746), but is prevented from fighting by his brother Lord Melton. Hector dies in the battle. The English are victorious and the Scottish forces are slaughtered; Lord Melton spares Jamie's life in gratitude for his sparing Grey's, and allows him to flee persecution as a Jacobite rebel.
Around 1747, Grey's cousin Olivia Pearsall is orphaned, and becomes Hal's ward. She moves in with Benedicta and lives there until marriage, and Olivia and Grey become very close. At eighteen, Grey enters into a relationship with George Everett, who takes him to the Lavender House—a discreet club in London that caters to homosexual men. In 1755, a scandal involving Everett causes Grey—now a major—to be reassigned to Ardsmuir Prison in Scotland, where he serves as Governor for a year and a half. At Ardamuir, Grey is reunited with Jamie. After Culloden, Jamie had lived in hiding for seven years, but had finally turned himself in to the English so that the starving people at his estate of Lallybroch could collect the reward on his head. Grey and Jamie begin having weekly dinners, playing chess and exchanging information related to the prisoners. Grey falls in love with Jamie, who rejects his advances. Still, Grey cannot dismiss his feelings. In 1756, after the prison is successfully rebuilt into a fortress, Grey arranges for Jamie to be paroled to Helwater, under the eye of family friend Lord Dunsany, instead of being transported to the American colonies for seven years of indentured servitude.
In 1757 during the events of Lord John and the Private Matter (2003), Grey begins investigating Olivia's fiancé, Joseph Trevelyan, whom Grey suspects to have syphilis. During the course of his investigation, Grey visits the Lavender House and has a one-night stand with a young man there. Grey also meets and is joined in his adventure by the handsome Hanoverian Captain Stephan von Namtzen, Landgrave of Erdberg, and takes young Tom Byrd into his employ as his valet. In addition to puzzling out the Trevelyan mystery, Grey helps solve the murder of a fellow soldier who had been suspected of espionage.
In Lord John and the Succubus (2003), Grey is in Prussia serving as the English liaison officer to the First Regiment of Hanoverian Foot. Briefly stationed at the town of Gundwitz with a group of English and Hanoverian soldiers, Grey is at first skeptical when he receives reports of a local succubus victimizing a number of men and murdering a Prussian soldier. While attempting to solve the mystery, Grey tries to navigate his perhaps-mutual attraction to the dashing von Namtzen, as well as to deflect the advances of the beautiful young widow Louisa, Princess von Lowenstein, at whose castle both men are staying.
Later, in Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade (2007), Grey becomes romantically involved with Percy Wainwright, the stepson of General Sir George Stanley, Grey's new stepfather. The scandal of the Duke of Pardloe's death is reignited, and despite Hal's prohibitions, Grey investigates. Secretly knowing that his father had been murdered, with Jamie Fraser's help Grey finds that his father had been innocent. He is also reunited with Stephan von Namtzen, who has married Louisa. Percy is discovered in flagrante delicto with a Hanoverian soldier by Grey and two of his men. Faced with hanging for this capital crime, Percy escapes to Ireland with Grey's assistance. Percy's Hanoverian lover allows his commanding officer, von Namtzen, to kill him rather than face the shame of dismissal. Grey returns to the 46th Regiment, which is assigned to fight under Duke Ferdinand of Brunswick and chases French and Austrian troops around in the Rhine Valley for weeks until the Battle of Krefeld. During the battle, Grey takes charge of a gun crew that had lost its commander, and the cannon blows up after a few shots.
Subsequently in Lord John and the Haunted Soldier (2007), the Royal Commission of Inquiry opens an inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the cannon explosion, and Grey is called to stand before a tribunal. He begins his own investigation as accusations threaten him and his half brother DeVane. In The Custom of the Army (2010), it is 1759 and Grey finds himself both about to be promoted within His Majesty’s Army and fresh from a gentlemen's duel in which his opponent was killed. He gladly accepts an urgent summons from his old friend Charlie Carruthers, who is facing court-martial in Canada. There Grey meets and becomes romantically involved with a Native American man named Manoke.
In 1760 in The Scottish Prisoner (2011), Grey and Jamie Fraser find themselves 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. Grey and Stephan von Namtzen finally consummate their long-simmering attraction.
Grey later marries Isobel Dunsany, in part to take care of Jamie Fraser's illegitimate son William by Isobel's deceased sister Geneva.
During Grey's journey to Jamaica, he meets Claire Fraser again, and is later re-acquainted with Jamie in Jamaica. Afterwards, Isobel and William go to join Grey in Jamaica, but Isobel dies during the sea voyage. At the end of his governorship, Grey takes William with him to visit Jamie at Fraser's Ridge, en route to a Virginian plantation that belongs to William. Later, Grey goes to North Carolina to visit Jocasta Cameron, Jamie's aunt, and is introduced to a very pregnant Brianna Fraser, to whom Grey is temporarily engaged so that she would not be bombarded by suitors.
While in Virginia, John keeps up a correspondence with the Frasers and brings for Claire several of the ingredients she needs to create ether. Grey also becomes involved again with Manoke, who takes a job at the plantation as his cook. After the American Revolutionary War breaks out, Grey goes to Philadelphia to check on the status of his nephew Henry, who had been wounded in the war. Claire, also visiting Philadelphia at the time, is able to operate on Henry and save his life. Grey and Claire then receive the (erroneously reported) news of Jamie's death, and John later marries Claire to keep her from being arrested as an American spy.
Grey has been called "one of the most complex and interesting" of the hundreds of characters in Gabaldon's Outlander novels. Publishers Weekly described him as "a competent and likable sleuth" in 2003. In 2015, Fandomania named him among their "Top 10 Crushworthy LGBT Characters in Sci-Fi/Fantasy".
- 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.
- "Official site: Chronology of the Outlander Series". DianaGabaldon.com. Archived from the original on October 12, 2013. Retrieved October 29, 2013.
- "Official site: Lord John Grey Series". DianaGabaldon.com. Archived from the original on October 12, 2013. Retrieved October 29, 2013.
- Donnell, P. (October 6, 2007). "From Academia to Steamy Fiction". Canada.com. The Gazette (Montreal). Retrieved October 30, 2013.
- Gabaldon, Diana (November 12, 1998). Jakubowski, Maxim, ed. Past Poisons: An Ellis Peters Memorial Anthology of Historical Crime. United Kingdom: Headline Publishing. ISBN 0747275017.
- Gabaldon, Diana (1998). Lord John and the Hell-Fire Club: Complimentary Collector's Special Edition. United States: Bantam Dell.
- Gabaldon, Diana (November 27, 2007). Lord John and the Hand of Devils. Delacorte Press. ISBN 0385311397.
- Gabaldon, Diana (September 30, 2003). Lord John and the Private Matter. Delacorte Press. ISBN 0385337477.
- 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.
- Gabaldon, Diana (August 28, 2007). Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade. Delacorte Press. ISBN 0385337493.
- Kleine, Jane (January 27, 2008). "Lord John compelling tales". PostandCourier.com. The Post and Courier. Retrieved October 30, 2013.
- Gabaldon, Diana (March 16, 2010). "The Custom of the Army". In Martin, George R.R.; Dozois, Gardner. Warriors. Tor Books. ISBN 0765320487.
- "Official site: Lord John and the Custom of the Army". DianaGabaldon.com (Internet Archive). Retrieved October 30, 2013.
- "Official site: A Trail of Fire". DianaGabaldon.com (Internet Archive). Retrieved October 30, 2013.
- Gabaldon, Diana (November 29, 2011). The Scottish Prisoner. Delacorte Press. ISBN 0385337515.
- Gabaldon, Diana (October 4, 2011). Martin, George R.R.; Dozois, Gardner, eds. Down These Strange Streets. Ace Books. ISBN 0441020747.
- "Official site: A Plague of Zombies". DianaGabaldon.com (Internet Archive). Retrieved October 30, 2013.
- "Fiction Book Review: Lord John and the Private Matter". PublishersWeekly.com. September 15, 2003. Retrieved November 23, 2013.
- "Fiction Book Review: Lord John and the Hand of Devils". PublishersWeekly.com. September 10, 2007. Retrieved November 23, 2013.
- Reese, Jennifer (November 27, 2007). "Book Review: Lord John and the Hand of Devils (2007)". EW.com. Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved October 30, 2013.
- Gabaldon, Diana (1996). Drums of Autumn (1st ed.). Delacorte Press. p. 764. ISBN 0-385-31140-0.
- Gabaldon, Diana (2008). Lord John and the Hand of Devils (Reprint paperback ed.). Bantam Dell. p. 212. ISBN 978-0-385-34251-3.
- Gabaldon, Diana (2008). Lord John and the Private Matter (Reprint paperback ed.). Bantam Dell. p. 4. ISBN 978-0-440-24148-5.
- Gabaldon, Diana (2008). Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade (Reprint paperback ed.). Bantam Dell. p. 160. ISBN 978-0-385-33750-2.
- Gabaldon, Diana (1994). Voyager (Reprint paperback ed.). Bantam Dell. pp. 893–894. ISBN 978-0-440-21756-5.
- Gabaldon, Diana (1993). Voyager. Delacorte Press. ISBN 978-0385302326.
- Gabaldon (2008). Private Matter. pp. 142–145.
- Gabaldon (2008). Private Matter. pp. 162–163.
- Gabaldon (2008). Brotherhood of the Blade (Reprint paperback ed.). pp. 400–407.
- Harris, Mandi (June 30, 2015). "Top 10 Crushworthy LGBT Characters in Sci-Fi/Fantasy". Fandomania. Retrieved July 10, 2015.
- Official website
- Gabaldon, Diana (October 2, 2006). Podcast Episode 6: The Lord John Stories (Podcast). DianaGabaldon.com.
- Gabaldon, Diana (October 1, 2007). Podcast Episode 14: The Character Lord John Grey (Podcast). DianaGabaldon.com.