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About Those House Names
and other fun facts about Billy...

these were the actual house names of men living in London in the 18th century. Caligula is there as well. it was the fashion for queer bawds to take their names from racehorses, inspiring the moll names Marathon and Dowager (you just can't make this stuff up, folks). Much of this I learned of in Mother Clap's Molly House, a comprehensive and rather hard to find queer history from 1992. 

1. Many of the characters who visit Moll’s bawdyhouse are inspired by actual people mentioned in 18th century criminal records. Thank goodness for those records! Without them we would today know little, or nothing, about them and so very much would be lost to history. I used a bit of imagination to fill in the blanks when describing such as Dip-Candle Mary (a tallow chandler) and Hardware Nan (presumably a seller of hardware goods) but

2. The lexicon of the title refers to the street, or cant, language spoken by the thieves and vagrants of London in the 17th and 18th centuries. The primary use of the language was to disguise various nefarious and illegal doings. Some terms, such as ‘hand-me-downs’ have made their way into popular usage. Fuller lexicons of the cant language can be found in two fabulously colourful books of the period (you can tell by their titles just how fabulous). These are:


The Surprising Adventures of Bampfylde Moore Carew, King of the Beggars - Containing his Life, a Dictionary of the Cant Language, and many Entertaining Particulars of that Extraordinary Man

by Robert Goadby (published 1749)


The English Rogue: Described in the Life of Meriton Latroon, A Witty Extravagant

by Richard Head (published 1665)

3.  1771, the year in which the book is set, was the year Captain Cook, commander of the HMS Endeavour, returned from his first voyage around the world. This was by no means the first time Great Britain ventured round the globe. Because of this, I wanted to draw attention to a lesser-known expedition by having one of Billy’s romantic interests participate in a previous voyage – in particular: the 1764 expedition round the world of the HMS Dolphin. No discoveries comparable to those of Captain Cook were made during this expedition, but the account of Commodore Byron in the HMS Dolphin is an exciting one.


4. Yes, Commodore Byron was a relation of that Byron. Vice-Admiral (and Commodore) John Byron was poet Lord Byron’s grandfather.

5. Brit author Alexis Hall, talented and incredibly prolific writer of queer romcoms (Boyfriend Material), is in part responsible for my taking on Billy's story. Alexis was kind enough to give my first book, Hugh, an exceptionally lovely and generous review, after which we corresponded and he suggested a follow-up story on William Dempsey. After some research, I realized William was in fact Blue Billy, and the book developed from there. I’m indebted to Alexis for caring enough about this character to ask to know more. 

Copyright © 2022 by David Lawrence Johnson
                       Broadbound Publishing


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