Where in the world is Iberia?
“I couldn’t figure out where Iberia was until several pages in.”
That was the comment from one of my fellow authors (who writes Women’s Fiction) when she very generously did a beta reading of my latest release, The Bastard’s Iberian Bride.
And gosh, that was a problem I had never thought of. I assumed readers had my same familiarity with Bernard Cornwell’s Sharpe series, Lord Wellington, and the Peninsular Wars.
And some of them don’t know what I’m talking about!
I knew I needed to provide that definition of Iberia front and center for readers in some non-copyright-infringing way. So I headed over to Google Books (a treasure house for history geeks) and found a few different sources that would shed light on the word for readers.
I found an 1866 edition of The Works of Virgil, and a very Byron-esque epic poem about the Peninsular Wars called Iberia Won:
See many a bark that swan-like floats the tide
Steal rapid round the fair Cantabrian shore.
Daughters of luxury, your frail heads hide!
‘Tis women’s arms that ply the lusty oar
That hostile castle’s bristling wall before.
A patriot impulse bids them proudly dare
(Was never seen the like!) the batteries’ roar,
Their fruits and wine with the besiegers share,
And bless the arms upraised to guard Iberia fair!
I longed to plop this stanza about the heroic Iberian women into my book somewhere, but print book real estate is dear, and…it still doesn’t define Iberia.
And then I came across the 1819 edition of the Cyclopaedia; or Universal Dictionary of Arts, Sciences, and Literature and found what I needed:
IBERIA, a name given by the generality of Greek writers to Spain, either from a colony of Iberians, a people bordering on mount Caucasus, planted there; or from the river Iberus, the Ebro of the moderns, one of the most famous rivers of this country.
–The Cyclopaedia; Or, Universal Dictionary of Arts, Sciences, and Literature
Glossary or no Glossary?
Which brings me to a question for you: two of my readers have suggested that I add a glossary to each of my books. What do you think?
If your answer is “Yes, give us a glossary”, what words have you stumbled over in a Regency-set story? I’d love to know!
Images: Wikimedia Commons